When Rose McKay convinces her brother, Ewan, to invest in a pottery business, she’s determined to assist him in making the endeavor a success. A recent graduate of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, she believes she can design pieces that will sell well. Rose also reconnects with Joshua Harkness, who oversees his own family’s pottery works and promises to help her.
Rylan Campbell has never liked change, but the new owners of the pottery seem to be decent folks. He just wishes Rose wouldn’t insist on changing the way they do things. Then McKay Pottery begins to lose business to the Harkness company, and Rylan suspects Joshua may be secretly taking advantage of Rose.
When Franklin Hotels announces a design contest, it could be the opportunity McKay Pottery needs to achieve recognition and clients. Rose and Rylan work together to create something magnificent. With Joshua’s company as their main rival, can Rylan convince Rose her trust in Joshua may spell ruin for them all?
Read on for my thoughts on The Potter’s Lady and also for an excerpt from the book.
There are a lot of Christian historical fiction novels about the Irish diaspora, but I hadn’t really noticed until I read two of them in a row. I suppose it makes sense in a way: the Irish were one of the largest emigrant groups for about 100 years starting in the mid-1840s. I have ancestors who moved to northern England from the Emerald Isle between 1840 and 1850, for example. Fiction tends to look at the lives of Irish immigrants and their American-born children. The Potter’s Lady looks at the first group.
In the first book of Judith Miller’s Refined by Love series, we met newcomers Ewan McKay and his aunt and uncle. Now, in this second book of the series, we are introduced to his sisters and others more recently arrived from Ireland. Life has not been fantastic for Ewan between the books. He’s happily married, but his widowed aunt has forced him out of the family brickworks business. He must now look for another investment, preferably one that will accept his Irish background. His sister, Rose, has also faced discrimination. In her case, it was in the form of merciless teasing at the Philadelphia school she attended.
Although The Potter’s Lady is written around a contest for a lucrative hotel contract, it’s impossible not to see the contrast between the Irish haves and have-nots. Despite Ewan and Rose’s difficulties they have become people of means. Distant cousins are not so fortunate. Two work for Ewan’s bitter Aunt Margaret, a woman who would be delighted to see Ewan fail both at business and life. This is a woman who counts every penny so she has more to spend on herself, and who turns family members into little more than indentured servants. She’ll only grudgingly give pay increases when they threaten to seek employment at a local hotel that’s looking for hard workers. There are also pottery employees who hire their own children to assist them and are, therefore, reluctant to send them to the school Rose sets up. Saddest of all perhaps, is the story of Beatrice, the nanny who risks it all in an unwise attempt to improve her lot.
Before picking up this book, I do suggest reading first The Brickmaker’s Bride. Not only does it start the Refined by Love series, it will also help you understand the family dynamics. Going by the release dates of these two books, I would guess you’ve got another 10 to 12 months before the next one comes out.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of The Potter’s Lady, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read The Potter’s Lady? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 04 August 2015
Page Count: 336