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There would be times when Riah Millican came to regret that her husband had learned to read and write and then shared his knowledge with her and their children  For this was Durham in the 's when employers tended to regard the spread of education with suspicion  But now Seth Millican was dead and she w When Riah is given a job at Moor House she feels her prayers are answered She has not only found a home a job her and the Master of the House develop a friendship Mr Miller her employer tells Riah that he wishes to teach her children Riah feels blessed by his seeming kindness but learns that the kindness has a cost and horrifying cost I notice that many people miss a important story arch in this book It relates to the Black Velvet Gown given to Riah by Miller She believes he is to bed her but to her horror discovers that he has a disturbing interest in her eldest son Davey The Black velvet gown was his payment for her son it s so subtly done many miss it but once you realise Miller s motives much of the previous dialogue and odd things he says suddenly become alarmingly clear The revelation comes to light when Davey s reward for being a good pupil grooming him for his silence isn t presented and begins to paw at the frightened boy who realises that the man s affection is anything but Fatherly The sudden realisation of what had happened during his lessons causes a mental break and begins to attack his abuser Riah tells Miller that she is going to take the children away from him He blackmails her by saying that he ll tell the Police of Davey s attack on him In those times position and wealth helped nefarious creatures get away with all kinds of terrors Poor Riah is trapped with having to look after the injured Miler Davey leaves home and finds work safely away from Moor House She keeps her youngest sons away by keeping a watchful eye Since Riah s daughter is blissfully unaware of the sorrowful events and sees Miller as a fatherly figure a mentor Her naivety makes her assume that Davey is nothing but a thug and a lout This is another sick act Miller inflicts on the innocent family By tearing a Mother and daughter apart Riah s need to protect her daughter Biddy from the horrors of the housedrives a wedge between the pair All biddy sees though her innocent eyes is that her mentor was attacked by her angry brother and that her mother fathers Davey above her The sad truth being that Riah just wants to protect Biddy from the heartbreak on discovering that her father figure is a child abuser Biddy grows up and becomes a accomplished heard working young woman With her mentor who taught her French and Latin now dead she leaves home to become a laundry servant in a grand Manor Her kindness intelligence draw much attention much negative die to it being considered vulgar for the lower classes to develop airs and education She teaches several of the other maids how to read and write Davey also works at the Manor as a Stable lad In contrast to Davey who hides his education to fit in Biddy defiantly flaunts it This leads to a dreadful attack by two of the houses young Lady and Master who string her up and beat her She is thankfully rescued by Lawrence who has also noticed Biddy but in a positive way Definitely one of Cookson s strongest literary pieces This gripping read features focuses on the difficulty in being a educated working class Cookson was often given the label of a Romance writer A term she detested due to its condescension and the fact she saw her work as Historical fiction I d agree in the case of this book Although Biddy finds romance within her story arch the stark and thoughtful style gives this novel this some depth

Free read The Black Velvet Gown

The Black Velvet Gown

With her daughter Biddy who was not only bright but witfulTHE BLACK VELVET GOWN is the story of a mother and daughter often at odds with each other facing the need to challenge and fight the prejudice of an age a narrative of great power and diversity that is one of Catherine Cookson's major achievements Just arrived from USA trough BMPage 165Books books books I d like to burn the lot People are right the gentry are right the working class shouldn t be allowed to handle them the re disturbers trouble makers Page 218In the main ye happy because they are satisfied with their lot but teach them to hold a pen and to read from a page then you are dropping seeds of discontent into their otherwise content livesThis is the story of Riah Millican and their children specially her daughter Biddy who has a natural gift for learning and readingWhen her husband dies Riah found shelter for her family in Moor House where the master Percival Miller a reclusive former teacher who will teach their children to read and write Biddy became his favorite since she learned to love books through her dead fatherBut then Riah sent Biddy to work in a laundry of a great house where she continues her passion for books which will bring her a lot of pain and troublesThis is another magnificent book by Dame Cookson with has a TV movie based on this story The Black Velvet Gown 1991

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As a widow with the need to find a home and a living for herself and her childrenThe chance of becoming a housekeeper didn't work out but it led to Moor House The Black Epuband a scholarly recluse obsessed with that very book learning that could open so many doors and yet create so many problems especially I didn t realize that the education of the lower ranking classes in the late 1800s was such a controversial issue till I picked up this book For a Cookson novel it was a tad disappointing I have come to expect a bit out of her It had an interesting enough start beginning with a woman named Maria and her four children Her husband has just passed away of Cholera leaving her with two sons two daughters and a small bag of money in a mining town that wishes to kick them out After being turned aside by her own family Maria takes a journey that leads her to a manor house with a peculiar master The master provides a roof over her and her children s heads in exchange for her housekeeping skills He also takes it upon himself to educate her children This is not without its price however At this point it gets interesting The master has an inappropriate attraction to Maria s older son There are some scandalous occurences and the famly is split apart as blackmail enters the picture The last half of the novel is about Maria s daughter Biddy who at this point is educated and according to the gentry and their servants doesn t know her place As she enters the laundry service at a larger estate up the road readers see how badly educated lower class people were treated Biddy makes a stand tho and begins teaching others to read At this point it is a war between upper and lower class and educated versus uneducated Can Biddy survive the struggle at the big house Will Maria find happiness despite the restrictions her master has put upon her Interesting but not one of Cookson s best


10 thoughts on “The Black Velvet Gown

  1. says:

    I grew up thinking that Catherine Cookson was sort of a lightweight romance author and thus I never really bothered with her Imagine my surprise when I picked up The Black Velvet Gown and found it to be intricate than I expected and written in an intelligent sometimes stark fashion Riah is a young 1830s widow who finds that the f

  2. says:

    When Riah is given a job at Moor House she feels her prayers are answered She has not only found a home a job her and the Master of the House develop a friendship Mr Miller her employer tells Riah that he wishes to teach her children Riah feels blessed by his seeming kindness but learns that the kindness has a cost and horrifying cost I noti

  3. says:

    I absolutely loved this book and I really didn't expect to Based on the cover and various descriptions of it and its author I really expected another shallow crappy 'historical fiction' really a romance in pseudo intellectual clothes This to my mind was nothing of the sort No nothing sweeping or epic happens none of the characters change the world But they do change their worlds and that alone was enjoyable

  4. says:

    I have read many Catherine Cookson novels over the years This writer is exceptionally prolific and it's difficult to categorize her style; they are certainly historical with a bit of a Gothic flair; however many deal with deprivatio

  5. says:

    I am forever buying books to get home to find I have already read the book I just purchased It's so disappointing to sit down ready for a new story to find you have bought the book than onceI can only think that

  6. says:

    I didn't realize that the education of the lower ranking classes in the late 1800s was such a controversial issue till I picked up this book For a Cookson novel it was a tad disappointing I have come to expect a bit out of her It had an interesting enough start beginning with a woman named Maria and her four children Her husband has just pa

  7. says:

    Just arrived from USA trough BMPage 165Books books books I'd like to burn the lot People are right the gentry are right the working class shouldn't be allowed to handle them the're disturbers trouble makers Page 21

  8. says:

    I am a great fan of Catherine Cookson and read most of her booksIn the 1830's in northern England Riah Millican a widow with three children takes a job as housekeeper to a reclusive former teacher Percival Miller Miller m

  9. says:

    First time I have read Catherine Cookson Excellent writer This book is about rising above your social standing If you are poor you should not rise to greater heights and you should not learn to read or write no goo

  10. says:

    I love this book and have read it at least 5 timesI love the last line it just showed you that people should be careful before they do a kindnessjust got done reading it again 7915

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