3 out of 4 stars
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Henry’s Mill by Vic Veale is a fictional novel set in Yorkshire, England. The story begins in 1903, with the three Henry brothers working together to join the industrial revolution. They buy a local mill in the hopes of building upon the weaver’s cottage business of their parents. They aim to “modernize” the family business of hand-producing yarn and woollen cloth by using mechanical production methods. This novel chronicles the lives of four generations of the Henry family and the challenges of running a production-based business over approximately a century.
This is not an action-packed, edge of your seat type of novel. It is a cosy read about the interesting lives connected to the three Henry brothers and the changes in the industry over the years. We learn about the directions different family members take and who steps up to the plate to deal with the ever-changing needs of the business. The Henrys continuously work to determine how their product fits with the market of the time. They also aim to meet the current demand both cost-effectively and with a quality product.
I really appreciated that the people in the story felt real. The characters went through the regular trials of life but they were not stereotypical or over-exaggerated. The Henry family and friends were a varied bunch of people. They were also thoughtful and worked through their lives and business challenges with integrity. I enjoyed reading about travel throughout the book. The characters that travelled met some interesting and life-changing people along the way. By being open to new ideas and new people, the Henrys were able to find new business opportunities and forge life-long relationships.
The author, Vic Veale, ran a textile business for many years and this book often reads more like a memoir (albeit a fictional one) than a typical fiction novel. I did feel that I would have enjoyed the story being fleshed out a bit more with additional dialogue between some of the characters. It would have been good to feel a part of some of the scenes instead of having them related to me afterwards. I would also have appreciated a graphical family tree. It was hard to remember who everyone was and how they were all connected sometimes. I did not find the list at the beginning of the book very helpful for my visual mind.
I rate Henry’s Mill 3 out of 4 stars. I only noticed a few typos and/or grammar errors while reading the book. After going through the book again, to meet the new review requirements to note the first ten errors, I did notice more minor issues than at first. I enjoyed this novel, especially getting to know the characters. I would have liked to have had more detail to the story as a novel. If this novel had called itself a fictional memoir, I may have been more inclined to give it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to people who enjoy learning about several generations of a family, those that are interested in character development, and those who like learning about how a particular industry changes over a significant length of time. I am not sure that readers with a strong preference for fast-paced horror/action/thriller type novels would appreciate this book.
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