Set against the blistering heat and grinding poverty of the Black Country, this compelling love story charts the struggle of young Anna Gibson to forge a new life from the remnants of betrayal by her lover, and a tragic marriage of convenience. A simple offer of work as a model proves to be the catalyst for complete change, taking Anna from the sunny beaches and liberal attitudes of an artist's colony in Brittany, to the struggle to make good and survive in the immigrant community of downtown New York. Anna learns her lessons well, and she finds herself still making chains, but now chains of restaurants, leading to wealth if not happiness. The comes Prohibition, and Anna's decisions involve her in a gangland feud which threatens her family and friends in a frightening web of intrigue and violence.
Helen Spring was born in the Black Country, in the industrial Midlands of England, and after a successful business career she decided to concentrate on her first love, writing fiction. Her four published novels are: The Chainmakers, and its sequel Blood Relatives, Strands of Gold, and Memories of the Curlew. She has also published a book of short stories entitled 'Pick 'n Mix. She lives on the Wirral in England, and also teaches Creative Writing.
This is a rather remarkable quote I came across during the research for this book. As you will see, it was written in 1896 by Robert Sherard, who was a factory inspector charged with reporting on the conditions of workers in the chainmaking industry.
Here he is describing a small girl, who was jumping up and down on the huge pair of bellows in the chainshop, to provide blast to the furnace for the blacksmith. To him, it appeared she was dancing, but in fact what she was doing was very hard work .She had to keep this up for most of the day, for which she was paid only three pence. Mr Sherard's description struck me as very beautiful, and I wanted to try and find out more about this small girl, and what happened to her. This book is the result.