Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan MacGowan

Published: May 26th, 2022
Publisher: Welbeck
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting piece of historical fiction. Thank you to Welbeck for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.



If you enjoyed The Familiars and The Binding, you’ll love this sweeping and empowering historical novel, set in Suffragette England.

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.



“I have seen my name become notorious. Lotta Rae. The talk of London. There was talk, much talk for sure. But was there truth? Was there justice?”

Halloween Night 1906.  Lotta Rae, a working-class girl working in a brewery, is attacked by a gentleman in a dark alley.  She bravely reports the crime and heads to court with her barrister William Linden by her side.  When the devastating verdict is announced it sparks a chain of tragic events that will alter Lotta’s life forever.  Years later Lotta still searches for justice.  Only this time it won’t be the courts that she trusts to deliver it.

The Trial of Lotta Rae is a story of power, privilege and the fight for justice.  I quickly devoured this haunting debut, the air of menace and foreboding that lingers over every page holding me captive. Siobhan MacGowan’s beguiling prose, skilled storytelling and memorable characters are a potent combination that I felt powerless to resist.  Steeped in history, the author has set the story against a backdrop of the suffragettes’ struggle, transporting you back to a time when doctors believed that only with consent could you conceive, and any woman who just walks with a man is seen as leading him on.   It all combines to create an atmosphere of authenticity that is so well done I  actually found myself searching the internet to see if Lotta Rae and her story were real. I am in awe of the fact it is not yet she crafted a character and story so convincing that I believed every word could be true.

“It seems we imagine there will be a harbinger of those days that come to shatter our lives. Will herald their arrival not with duplicitous blue sky, but a clutch of foreboding clouds. That we will be granted a sign. But the day it happened dawned comforting in its simplicity: sunny, fresh and bright. “

The story is narrated by not only Lotta Rae, but also her barrister, William Linden.  I enjoyed these very different perspectives, though it did get a little confusing going back and forth between them in the same chapter at times.  And while both sides are equally well written and both characters compelling, Lotta is without a doubt the star of this book.  Fierce, feisty, strong and resolute, she leaps from the pages.  I could feel her anguish after the attack, her shame during the court case, disbelief at the verdict, and, finally, the desire for revenge that burned in her like fire.  She is someone who manages to be sympathetic even when not likeable and I was rooting for her every step of the way.  William was someone whose character surprised me, though I don’t want to say much more to avoid spoilers.  But I will say he is fantastically written and a very believable character of the time for his class and gender.

An intense and enthralling debut, Lotta and her story is one that will stay with me.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



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.



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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