on July 1st 2018
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1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath's leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath's premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father's iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington's into a new decade, embracing woman's equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington's plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
The Mistress of Pennington’s is the first book in the Pennington’s Department series by Rachel Brimble.
Set in 1910 a time when huge change is happening with regards to women’s rights, Elizabeth Pennington can see changes are needed in the department store her father owns, ‘Pennington’s’ in order to move with the times and to cater to every person, not just the rich. Changes that will help the store to flourish and more importantly help bridge the class divide. One day Elizabeth will inherit the store and all decisions will be hers. In the meantime, her father is in charge and he is fighting every change with all his might. She finds it difficult to stand up to her father but she knows she has to if there is any chance of the store flourishing.
Joseph Carter and his father own a small store that makes and sells hats and gloves. Joseph knows that the shop is going to end up closing as the bigger stores like Pennington’s make the smaller shops obsolete. He can see that is the future and he wants part of it. He wants Pennington’s to take him on as a supplier. He wants them to sell his gloves. He wants to make a name for himself and he wants to use his profits to help the poor.
When Joseph approaches Elizabeth not only is her business sense excited, but also personally she is intrigued by him. He has so much in common with her with regards to the progression of the store. He is talented at what he does, and he can see all the ways like Elizabeth can that Pennington’s is stale and needs fresh ideas brought forward and implemented. Maybe with Joseph’s support, she can convince her father that progression in the store is very much needed.
Elizabeth and Joseph find working together delightful, and it doesn’t take long for them to realise that they have a mutual attraction. Unfortunately, Edward Pennington isn’t at all pleased when he finds out that Joseph is working for the store. He is even less pleased when he thinks that Elizabeth and Joseph are attracted to each other. The Pennington’s and the Carter’s have history, bad history, and there can be no way that a Carter will work for him, or have a relationship with his daughter.
Will he throw Joseph out on his ear, or will his business mind see some sense in keeping him on at the store because since he arrived profits and customers have increased? Maybe he can keep Joseph on but make sure that Elizabeth knows she isn’t to have a personal relationship with him or risk being cut off and not inheriting the store. What happened between the families to cause so much animosity? Will it come between Joseph and Elizabeth?
This book has me very much in two minds. On the one hand, I enjoyed the story involving Pennington’s, reading all about the staff, how the store worked, how changes were implemented and how the public embraced them. Elizabeth’s character is commendable, pushing forward with what she knows is right and trying to prove to her father that just because she wasn’t born a boy doesn’t mean she can’t be a huge asset to Pennington’s. Joseph’s character is great too, he has ambition and to make a name for himself, but he also wants to help the poor, so it’s not selfish ambition. On the other hand, I got a bit annoyed at all the times they couple said they couldn’t/shouldn’t be together only to seem to forget all those reasons just as easily. At one point Joseph insists he can’t have a relationship until he finds out who murdered his wife, and Elizabeth promises to use her resources to help him find out. Then it’s never mentioned again!! Who did it? How could Joseph just forget how important it was for him to find out. So yes, a little bit of inconsistency there that put me off somewhat, but on the whole, I still very much enjoyed the story. I would definitely read the next book in the series, so that says something!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book.