BOOK CLUB: The Low Road

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 3 Average: 4.7]

The Low Road by Katharine Quarmby is a fictional story based on Hannah Tyrell’s life. There are a lot of historical facts packed into this book.

Hannah was born in England in 1785. Unfortunately, her father dies before he can marry her mother. Shunned by her father’s family, her mother is all Hannah has in the world.

As a child, Hannah considers herself lucky. She has never wanted for anything. She and her mother live and work on a dairy farm and Hannah attends the local school.

Unfortunately, the farmer’s wife dies. Then, Hannah’s mother suffers a terrible event, not uncommon in these times, which leads to her death. After witnessing and understanding what happened, at the age of eleven Hannah’s life as a child ends.

She is taken in by the doctor and his wife where she remains in the village for the next four years. But, Hannah is caught stealing a ribbon and is sent to a refuge in London.

The second part of her story is her time in the refuge. The aim of the refuge is for the girls to repent and be able to go into service. Hannah’s time in service leads to a chain of events, not all of her making, that see her tried and spending time in Newgate Prison.

The Low Road

Part three is set in the mid-1820s and onwards in Australia. Hannah arrives on the convict ship Julia in Sydney Cove. She is assigned to work as a servant to Frank Emerson a farmer near Newcastle.

The attitude of the Church towards unmarried mothers and their children sets Hannah up for a life of hardship, poverty and injustice.

The descriptiveness of Hannah’s thoughts, her environments, the conditions, the women she meets, and the controlling men that impact her life, all make this story so credible and riveting. You feel as if you are there with her.

Her story is one of resilience and making the best of each situation. It is important that stories like Hannah’s are preserved. It is a very thought-provoking read. 

In the acknowledgements at the end of the book, I was fascinated that Katharine Quarmby heard about this story in her hometown in Norfolk when she was seven, and planned to one day tell the story of Hannah Tyrell.

Her research has been extensive, tracing real-life journeys and experiences of her characters in the UK archives. She has also visited Colonial-era properties in Australia.

It is worth noting that the publisher Unbound is the world’s first crowdfunding publisher, if you wish to donate there is a link at the end of the book.

A selection of our members are reading The Low Road by Katharine Quarmby. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Low Road

  1. The Low Road by Katharine Quarmby (Unbound publishers)is a harrowing story that revolves around the main character, Hannah who loses her mother whilst still a child, and her efforts to survive against the injustices life throws at her.

    This is a historical novel set in the 1800’s when to be poor, illegitimate or destitute was hard enough, but being female makes it much worse. A well written and vividly descriptive account of what life was like in those times and the terrible losses and hopeless despair that drove people to do desperate things.

    Hannah’s efforts to get by sound very typical of the era – circumstances lead her to steal, she is sent from the country to a reform school type refuge in London where she meets Annie, the love of her life, ends up in Newgate Prison (twice) and is sentenced to transportation. Hannah and Annie’s relationship is tested throughout – separated and reunited several times. Both women suffer terribly.

    Told with great empathy this is a sad story full of anguish.

  2. Oh my gosh – Karen, you have a wonderful gift of storytelling! Such detail and patience, the research you must have done. You take the reader by the hand and lead them on a journey from one country to the next, you tell of sadness and at times, joy and we are right there with them. Cannot wait until your next book is released.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book which depicts the harsh and cruel societal constructs of the 1800,s . Hannah shows great strength and endurance as she confronts the many injustices on her journey. The terrible pain and guilt of her mother and sisters death was an unnecessary burden to carry throughout her life.- a burden placed upon her by a strict patriarchal society which had no compassion for unwed mothers. I enjoyed the writing style and although it is difficult to read about such harshness and cruelty , the author has portrayed the times with great skill.

  4. I am sorry to say that I wasn’t able to get into this book at all and wasn’t able to finish it. It was a bit too “wordy” and not the relaxing ready that I usually prefer, it just wasn’t my kind of story. That being said what I did ready was meticulously detailed and it was clear that the author went to great lengths to ensure the writing was as accurate as possible. I am glad to be seeing positive reviews from others who did greatly enjoy it.

  5. This book has a lot of historical facts to begin with. Poor Hannah’s mother dies and she is taken in by the local doctor and his wife. She gets into trouble and is sentenced to travel to Australia. She is given to a farmer as a servant but has a hard time in this new country.

  6. The Low Road is a somewhat sad read which captures your heart from the start. Hannah, the main character, has a hard life and one which is difficult to overcome, from a young age. A life similar to others in the nineteenth century. From being orphaned at a young age her life becomes one of turmoil as she tries to live knowing she is basically outcasted.
    A read based on real life situations and tragedies.

  7. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read and review The Low Road by Katharine Quarmby.
    Anyone who is a fan of historical fiction should definitely read this novel.
    Katharine had a way with words that kept me reading as did the fact that real life events were in there.
    It was definitely a harsh reminder of how things used to be and how far we have come.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Thank you!

  8. What an amazing book!!
    Set in the 1800’s, author Katharine Quarmby has ensured it is as Accurate as you can get!! A must read for historical buffs. This was a great book to read, especially as the 1800’s is when my own family came to Australia

    Thankyou Beauty and Lace, Katharine and Unboune Publishers for the opportunity to read and review The Low Road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *