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.
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.
I love to read, any book on any topic. I now love ebooks as they are easier to store, I was running out of bookshelves! My other interests are family, gardening and our beautiful King Charles spaniel dog who is my reading companion.