Set in the 1830s, Alice moves to Lowell, Massachusetts, to create a future for herself- a future brighter than the one she will face with her father if she stays on the farm and allows him to abuse her.
Alice likes her new-found independence and the girls she rooms with, but realizes quickly that the job she must do is one filled with danger and little reward.
Alice isn't afraid to speak out, and quickly becomes the voice of the workers at the mill. In addition, Alice has attracted the attention of the mill owner's son, a prominent and wealthy bachelor. The two are from vastly different social circles, yet are attracted to each other.
Lovey, Alice's best friend, a loud and daring young lady, is discovered strangled one day. Although the girls want the killer brought to justice, there are powerful people in Lowell, Massachusetts, who have the ability to influence the evidence and the outcome of the trial.
Alcott has based Lovey's death and subsequent trial on the real-life murder of a mill girl and 1833 trial that followed, creating a wonderful historical fiction account of a little known event in history.
Alice and her friends are inspirational for their determination and the role they played in helping women in the work force. I couldn't help but root for Alice and hope that she would find happiness.