The Mistress of Pennington'sby Rachel Brimble
Published on July 1, 2018
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath's premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father's iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington's into a new decade, embracing woman's equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
This book takes place in 1910 in Bath.Â I read a lot of historical fiction but I don’t see many books set in this time period.Â I was interested to read about a woman who is trying to take over her family business at a time when this was not an acceptable thing to do.Â This is also a time of great changes in retail.Â Ready to wear clothing is becoming more popular.Â Being able to touch the merchandise without a clerk helping you is a new idea.
I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book.Â In the beginning the writing was a bit clunky.Â There was a whole lot more description of what people were thinking than showing their actions on the page.Â I set the book aside for a while because of this.Â I don’t know if I would have picked it back up if it wasn’t a review book for me and if I wasn’t really interested in the premise.
I’m not sure if the writing improved as I got into the story or if I just accepted it as I went along but it didn’t bother me as much as I got deeper into the book.Â There are several conflicts here:
- The heroine who wants to run the store versus her father who wants her to marry and live the life of a rich housewife.
- The hero who wants to expand from a small family store to selling their merchandise in department stores over his father’s objections.
- There was conflict between the heroine and hero’s families in the past.
- Should department stores continue to cater to the wealthy or should they bring in lower price clothing for the new middle class customers?Â Would the wealthy continue to shop there if you let lower classes in the same stores?
It was interesting to see the ideas that were considered so progressive (and potentially alarming) that are commonplace now. The anti-woman rhetoric was as expected. Women aren’t smart enough to be in business. Suffragettes are just rabble-rousers causing the downfall of society.
This is a good book for anyone who loves historical fiction where you learn a lot about a topic.