It's January 1871 when Edith, the sheltered daughter of a wealthy widow, pays her first eventful visit to the workhouse for the poor.
There she meets Rosie, a rebellious, quick-tempered orphan who is always getting into trouble. Edith soon finds herself drawn into Rosie's wild schemes and both their lives are never the same again.
Reading this book has made me really glad of a few things, one is that we have WINZ in New Zealand so in theory there is no need for this type of establishment.
The characters were well written, from Edith who just wants to help and make things better to Rosie who is struggling through life and the very deceitful workhouse master who is more than happy to steal from those who have nothing and make life a lot more unbearable . I did like the photos at the end of the book, it is a part of history even if the residents were treated disgraceful and most felt like they were less than worthy and a lot let pride stand in the way of asking for help.
The book is rather short and I managed to read it in a few hours. I would have liked to know what happened to some of the characters, did the kids manage to find a better life? Did Edith grow up and continue to support the workhouse and encourage the residents to find employment and education ? The book might be fiction but it is close to actual events. I am glad I took a chance and read it, makes me realise how much worse life can be.
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)