Originally published: 26 May 2022
Author: Siobhan MacGowan
Published by: Welbeck
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Reading Dates: 24-28 May 2022
On Halloween night, 1906, young working class Lotta Rae is attacked by a wealthy gentleman. She seeks justice at an Old Bailey trial alongside her barrister, William Linden, who she believes to be her ally.
The verdict is devastating and Lotta Rae soon realises the guardians of justice do not support her. But what none could foresee were the shocking consequences.
Twelve years later, as the suffragettes rise and the ghost of WW1 looms large over London, William is joined again by Lotta Rae. Now they will travel to a fateful destination, where truths must be faced and wrongs will be righted.
The day in court is done. But tonight he will hear her testimony.
Often when I blog about historical fiction, I mention how I had no idea about the historical event in question – but to my delight, I knew a little of the period in which The Trial of Lotta Rae is set, having studied this period for A-level history, many years ago and it was a period I particularly loved learning about.
In The Trial of Lotta Rae, we meet 19 year old Lotta, who works at the local brewery. She has loving parents and a comfortable home and is courting a respectable young man. During a Halloween party at the brewery, Lotta is attacked by a wealthy and influential gentleman. Her family are distraught by what has happened to her and take the unusual step of taking him to court so he can be punished for what he has done. She is assigned a barrister, William Linden who becomes a good friend to Lotta an her family and promises to get justice for her.
When the verdict isn’t in her favour, the repercussions are devastating and far reaching for Lotta and her family. Some years later, Lotta meets William’s son Raff and she thinks to punish her barrister for everything she has lost despite his promises and becomes friendly with Raff thinking she can get some sort of revenge on William.
The book starts in 1906, covering events on the run up to World War 1 as well as the political goings on in the United Kingdom with the suffragette movement which both Lotta and Raff become involved with.
The Trial of Lotta Rae will make you furious. The way poor Lotta is treated by the judicial system is atrocious – the blame is for what happened is firmly at her door and the advantages of money and privilege work against her. Her happy life is ripped apart and she struggles to survive but makes good friends along the way. Lotta is a heroine you can’t hep but want to get behind.
Told from the viewpoints of both Lotta and William Linden, it is a moving and memorable tale. I really enjoyed the historical setting but I am thankful for how far we have come! The Trial of Lotta Rae is an engaging debut from Siobhan MacGowan.
Thank you to Maddie at Welbeck for the gifted proof copy. Please check out what these other wonderful bloggers are saying about The Trial of Lotta Rae!
About the author:
Siobhan MacGowan is a journalist and musician who lived and worked in London for much of her life before returning to Ireland several years ago. She is from a family of great storytellers, the most prominent of which is her brother, Shane MacGowan, of The Pogues.