I picked up Lucy Ribchester‘s debut novel The Hourglass Factory solely because of the first sentence of the blurb on the back: “Meet Ebony Diamond: trapeze artist, tiger-tamer, suffragette.” What’s not to love about a glamourous circus performer who also campaigns for women’s rights?
The novel follows another woman,. aspiring journalist Frankie George, as she tries to unravel the mystery of Ebony’s disappearance during a performance at the Coliseum. What follows is a competent thriller, full of bumbling police, aging courtesans and suffragettes smashing windows. The women’s suffrage movement is an interesting setting for a novel. It enables Ribchester to explore small-c conservative values throughout the whole of society, and the contemporary differences of opinion about how radical the women’s suffrage movement should be.
From the acknowledgements it’s clear that Ribchester has done her research. This is a slick and well-plotted thriller. But for some reason, it struggled to engage me as much as I was hoping.
Goodreads rating: 3*