Handloom weaver Henry Wakefield, his wife Sarah and their five children live in abject poverty in northern England in the early 19th century. He hates the new factories and won’t let his family work in them. He clashes with Sarah, a factory agent, a local priest and reformers, and son Albert runs away. They move to Manchester and are even worse off, living in a cellar in a terrace and have another little mouth to feed.
Henry’s passion for money overrides his hatred of factories and he starts one of his own, but it is beset with problems. The Wakefields, or rather Henry eventually becomes quite wealthy, and this has a devastating effect on the family. Albert is caught stealing and is transported to New South Wales. Her baby’s death, Albert’s unknown fate and society parties become too much for Sarah, who hears voices and is taken to the lunatic asylum. Son Benjamin falls in love with an orphan girl and they have a baby. Henry is furious.
Family members have had enough. Sarah, who got out of the asylum, and Albert, who returned to England unbeknown to Henry, plan a fiery night at Henry’s factory. But he keeps his money there and goes inside to retrieve it. Albert tries to rescue him.
UK literary agent The Susijn Agency compared it to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, “but with the poor family finding its wealth. The location of Manchester during the industrial revolution dictates the action excellently and I can see why readers could not put it down.” See Preface for more comments by agencies and readers.
Chris Pearce was born in Surrey, UK in 1952, and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. He has qualifications in economics, management/marketing and writing/editing. He worked as a public servant (federal and state) for 25 years and in the real world for 12.5 years. His inspiration for writing A Weaver’s Web was a postgraduate creative writing course he topped from 30 students in the mid 1990s. After unsuccessfully targeting many literary agents, including one who compared his manuscript to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, he decided to publish it as an ebook. He also has a non-fiction book (print only), Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway, which he plans to publish as an ebook later in 2014. He is writing a book on the history of daylight saving time around the world and has some notes towards a novel set 80 years into the future. His other hobbies include family history and tenpin bowling. Chris and his wife live in Brisbane, Australia.
Review: This historical novel is an emotional roller coaster filled with hardship, love and amazingly written characters with different - but equally strong - values. Chris Pearce captures the human psyche very well and A Weaver's Web will have you gripped from the very page. Henry is a difficult character to like, but his view on the world drives the plot well and he makes the book a much more unique read. Absolutely fantastic and highly recommended.