Synopses & Reviews
When Harriet, a working-class girl who, with her friend Mary has left her coastal job of collecting and gutting fish, stops on a bridge in her newly adopted home in York, she is approached by an upper-class gentleman. Samuel is a Quaker, a good soul, and a man interested in the new science of photography. He also collects photographs of working-class girls in their working clothes. Samuel invites the girls to come to his friend's studio. While Mary is almost instantly lost to the art of photography, Harriet, a sturdier sort, goes on to get a job in the Quaker-owned Wetherby's Chocolate Factory. She soon catches the eye of a young clerk who is one of the favourites of the owners and through him discovers the deadly rivalry between the chocolate-makers.
Samuel is also taken with the young Harriet, though because of class, he watches her from afar, until his sister "mad Grace" locked away in an asylum becomes part of their mutual story.
Set in York in the early 1900s, The Sweetest Thing is a true Victorian novel with a large cast and wonderfully intriguing subplots, set at a moment of great social change.
"The Sweetest Thing captures all the mouth-watering sweetness of desire (for freedom, for cocoa, for a face in a photograph), as well as the dusty grit it leaves on the lips." Emma Donoghue
"[R]ichly researched, warmly characterised and admirably humane." Daily Mail
A brilliant historical novel about working girls and upper-class men; about photography and chocolate factories; about mad women and Quakers.
About the Author
Fiona Shaw lives in York. She is the author of the extrarordinary memoir of post-natal depression, Out of Me.