THE PETERLOO AFFAIR: A TALE OF THE ST. PETER’S FIELD MASSACRE by Lucinda Elliot portrays this historical event through the eyes of a young girl as she and her family navigate the hardships of the period. Joan, desperate to escape the tedious life of textile production, dreams of becoming a doctor with her best friend Marcie. Her herbal skills prove sufficient for healing sick villagers. However, gender rules of a woman’s role in early 1800 Lancashire hang like a dark cloud upon her dream. Young love, too, threatens the girls’ future beyond their current lifestyle. Corn Laws imposed by Parliament have left most scavenging for food, leaving little to feed the multitude. Starvation is a real possibility. A protest march with neighboring villages against Parliament leads to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, where 18 are killed and more than 400 innocent people are injured according to historical accounts.
Elliot brings to light a piece of history long forgotten. However, reading through the dialogue proved to be a challenge. I struggled, often re-reading the conversations between the characters to fully understand their meanings. The number of egregious grammatical and punctuation errors did not help. The beauty of the story is touching and still comes across despite the strain upon my brain to unravel the dialogue. The characters are not lacking in depth or purpose. Joan is thoughtful, compassionate, and head-strong. Her interactions with fellow villagers and her family ring true. Absolutely love her. The villagers’ struggle and hardships are felt throughout the reading, and the author has portrayed their unjust treatment by Parliament with ease. This story is exceptional! I believe it would be a best-seller were it not for the laborious wading through difficult dialogue.
With adequate revision, this novel has the potential for a 5-star rating.