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The Moth

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Robert Bradley, a young man of independent mind and spirit, gave up his job in the Jarrow shipyards to work at his uncle's old-established carpenter's shop in a small village. Life with domineering Uncle John and his family did not always prove easy, however, and on Sunday Robert was glad to set off alone exploring the Durham countryside. At a friendly wayside inn he heard Robert Bradley, a young man of independent mind and spirit, gave up his job in the Jarrow shipyards to work at his uncle's old-established carpenter's shop in a small village. Life with domineering Uncle John and his family did not always prove easy, however, and on Sunday Robert was glad to set off alone exploring the Durham countryside. At a friendly wayside inn he heard talk about Foreshaw Park, the sadly run-down estate of the once wealthy Thorman family, and walking home in the moonlight he had his first strange encounter with Millie, the ethereal girl-child of that house whose odd ways and nocturnal wanderings had led to her being known locally as 'Thorman's Moth'. The time came when a sudden and dramatic turn in Robert's affairs brought him a much closer involvement with the Thormans of Foreshaw, and especially with the elder daughter Agnes who shouldered so many of the burdens of this troubled household and who alone of all her family loved and protected the frail unworldly Millie. But this was 1913, and anything beyond the most formal relationship between servant and mistress had to face the barriers and injustices of a rigid social hierarchy that was soon to perish in the flames of war.

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Robert Bradley, a young man of independent mind and spirit, gave up his job in the Jarrow shipyards to work at his uncle's old-established carpenter's shop in a small village. Life with domineering Uncle John and his family did not always prove easy, however, and on Sunday Robert was glad to set off alone exploring the Durham countryside. At a friendly wayside inn he heard Robert Bradley, a young man of independent mind and spirit, gave up his job in the Jarrow shipyards to work at his uncle's old-established carpenter's shop in a small village. Life with domineering Uncle John and his family did not always prove easy, however, and on Sunday Robert was glad to set off alone exploring the Durham countryside. At a friendly wayside inn he heard talk about Foreshaw Park, the sadly run-down estate of the once wealthy Thorman family, and walking home in the moonlight he had his first strange encounter with Millie, the ethereal girl-child of that house whose odd ways and nocturnal wanderings had led to her being known locally as 'Thorman's Moth'. The time came when a sudden and dramatic turn in Robert's affairs brought him a much closer involvement with the Thormans of Foreshaw, and especially with the elder daughter Agnes who shouldered so many of the burdens of this troubled household and who alone of all her family loved and protected the frail unworldly Millie. But this was 1913, and anything beyond the most formal relationship between servant and mistress had to face the barriers and injustices of a rigid social hierarchy that was soon to perish in the flames of war.

30 review for The Moth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Set in 1913 Northumbria, England, the story is about Robert Bradley, a strong-willed young worker at a Jarrow shipyard, who arrives home one day to find that his father has died. At the funeral he meets his father's estranged brother, his uncle John Bradley, and his wife Alice who offer Robert a new home and a place in his uncle's carpentry workshop. Robert accepts and after a few weeks at his new home, he is out walking late one night on the grounds of a rundown estate when he meets an ethereal Set in 1913 Northumbria, England, the story is about Robert Bradley, a strong-willed young worker at a Jarrow shipyard, who arrives home one day to find that his father has died. At the funeral he meets his father's estranged brother, his uncle John Bradley, and his wife Alice who offer Robert a new home and a place in his uncle's carpentry workshop. Robert accepts and after a few weeks at his new home, he is out walking late one night on the grounds of a rundown estate when he meets an ethereal young girl, Millie Thorman, whom the locals call the Moth, and befriends her. All seems to be going well for Robert until his cousin, Carrie, is revealed to be pregnant. Robert is immediately the suspected father, which he adamantly denies, but no one believes him. Even worse Carrie will not say who the real father is because she has always had a crush on Robert, and would rather marry him. Robert refuses to take the responsibility, shocking the townspeople, and leaves his relative's house, finding a place to work on the estate of Millie Thorman's once wealthy, now debt-ridden family. It is there that a mutual attraction develops between Robert and Sarah Thorman, Millie's older sister, but their social differences and Robert's reputation stand in their way. A movie was made based on this book and it's available at YouTube. 4* Feathers in the Fire 5* Katie Mulholland 5* The Black Velvet Gown 5* The Rag Nymph 4* The Black Candle 3* Colour Blind 4* The Dwelling Place 4* The Glass Virgin 4* The Gambling Man 3* The Girl 4* The Maltese Angel 5* The Round Tower 3* The Cinder Path 4* The Fifteen Streets CR The Moth The Mallen Trilogy: 4* The Mallen Streak 2* The Mallen Girl 3* The Mallen Litter Tilly Trotter Trilogy: 4* Tilly Trotter 5* Tilly Trotter Wed 4 Tilly Trotter Widowed TR Tilly Alone Autobiography: 4* Our Kate TR The Wingless Bird TR The Silent Lady TR Dinner of Herbs TR The Tide of Life TR The Man Who Cried

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books The rating, any status updates, and those bookshelves, indicate my feelings for this book. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

    This is my third Cookson novel, & I don't think I'll be reading any others. My first Cookson was 'The Whip', & it contained what I thought to be an inordinate amount of Life Suffering(tm)...however, I liked the MCs & assumed the onslaught was in homage to Victorian fiction where the poor heroine barely survives to reach her HEA. I still like 'The Whip' & remember it fondly. But I've since discovered that Cookson's copious Life Suffering style isn't making a statement about the ge This is my third Cookson novel, & I don't think I'll be reading any others. My first Cookson was 'The Whip', & it contained what I thought to be an inordinate amount of Life Suffering(tm)...however, I liked the MCs & assumed the onslaught was in homage to Victorian fiction where the poor heroine barely survives to reach her HEA. I still like 'The Whip' & remember it fondly. But I've since discovered that Cookson's copious Life Suffering style isn't making a statement about the genre -- no, it's her authorly kink. The endless pile-on of gloom, doom, & shitty life events NEVER ENDS, & I can't deal with such a thundercloud. Now, y'all know I'm the first to criticize an author who chickens out rather than putting their characters through legit plotting quandaries. Hardship makes stuff happen -- I don't read solely to experience happy emotions. But Cookson's continual landslide is just too much, & it ruins my ability to care. She's the cheesy romantic equivalent of depressing post-modern lit-fic. Example: reading The Lord of the Rings is a visceral, gut-wrenching thing for yours truly. There are chapters where JRRT rips my heart from my chest cavity, jumping up & down on my feels like a sadistic mofo. Yet such woebegone sadness is NOT A CONSTANT. There are brief periods of hope, contentment, & (most important) an overall aura of "Yes, it hurts, but I KNOW these people will make it to something better." Even old-skool rippers like This Other Eden or Stormfire, while epic in their suffering, embrace that oh-so-important glimmer, that pride in an as-yet unrealized period of "this too shall pass." Cookson, on the other hand, lacks that spark. Her characters continually mope, moan, & wallow in suffering even while they're (supposedly?) fighting to reach that future contentment. Yet even when (or if) it manages to arrive before the final page (literally), they ARE STILL UNHAPPY. Yeah, I get it -- life is a veil of tears, blah blah blah. But there's a line, y'know? In particular re: my distaste for The Moth, the final straw (spoiler beware) was when a formerly loyal family retainer goes insane & sets fire to the house, then runs inside to his death after realizing his beloved Unbalanced Daughter of the House was still in the bedroom with her dog. Why did he do this? Because he couldn't face the Older Daughter of the House marrying a commoner who used to work for him in the stables & would therefore become higher than him on the servants' social ladder. Are you fucking kidding me? No. STFU.

  4. 5 out of 5

    An Odd1

    "The Moth" nicknames a flighty young lady, eccentric to the point of madness in the eyes of the men of her family, but well loved by longtime servants and her repressed 26 year old sister, Agnes. After he first glimpses the girls by moonlight, charismatic carpenter Robert, confident (upstart, say some) in his well-read, clear-speaking intelligence, escaping concupiscent nymphomaniacs, joins the minimal unpaid staff of the decaying estate. Catherine Cookson, experienced from impoverished birth in "The Moth" nicknames a flighty young lady, eccentric to the point of madness in the eyes of the men of her family, but well loved by longtime servants and her repressed 26 year old sister, Agnes. After he first glimpses the girls by moonlight, charismatic carpenter Robert, confident (upstart, say some) in his well-read, clear-speaking intelligence, escaping concupiscent nymphomaniacs, joins the minimal unpaid staff of the decaying estate. Catherine Cookson, experienced from impoverished birth in 1906 NE England, deservedly a most popular UK author, envelopes us in old-fashioned romance crossing rural class divisions, as WWI breaks. She conveys deep passion in a glance, a style I heartily endorse.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dorcas

    Loved this book! (and if you get the chance to see the BFS film version (Jack Davenport and Juliet Aubrey 1997 its well worth a viewing and is faithful to the book). There is some cussing of the British variety (calling into question one's parentage mainly) but no sex. It's a classic "two people who arent social equals fall in love...". Great story And by the way, if a hero doesn't end up half dead, blind, scarred and crippled by the end of a CC novel someone hyjacked it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    As in most of Cookson's books she writes with strong female characters overcoming some miserable circumstance or misfortune. I also love the English accents given her characters. If you like books set in old England and well developed characters, you will enjoy books by Catherine Cookson!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This was the first book by Catherine Cookson that I have read and have since read many others. This book was an unusual love story and so engrossing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    Loved every word that was written on the pages of this book. Storytelling at it's best.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I can almost cut and paste the review for "The Glass Virgin" and put it here. The main difference is that Agnes must choose between being a poor spinster within the gentry class or being a tradesman's wife without title or upper crust ties. For those of us who haven't lived in turn of the century England, the choice seems like a no brainer, but at that time, the conflict was great. Once again the reader is left wondering if love can overpower disinheritance and social isolation. What also makes I can almost cut and paste the review for "The Glass Virgin" and put it here. The main difference is that Agnes must choose between being a poor spinster within the gentry class or being a tradesman's wife without title or upper crust ties. For those of us who haven't lived in turn of the century England, the choice seems like a no brainer, but at that time, the conflict was great. Once again the reader is left wondering if love can overpower disinheritance and social isolation. What also makes "The Moth" unique is the WWI setting and the theme of mental illness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caralyn Rubli

    Had this book on my shelf unread since 1991. I assumed it was about a ghost, like the girl in white who appears to driver's on some road or a story in that genre. After 22 years of thinking this way, I had a real hard time at the beginning getting it through my skull it wasn't that type of story. Once my brain accepted it, it was a good book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Beautifully written, positively spellbinding! Catherine Cookson had such a talent for bringing her characters and the localities to life. Many authors have a talent for it, but hers was more than outstanding!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samar

    This writer is unique and disturbing enough to make the reader jolt out of their comfort zone. She shows different class perspectives that are honest and believable. An exquisite read. Lovely.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    This is one of those stories where a man and a woman from different classes fall in love. However, there is so much more to the story than that. Agnes Thorman has a younger sister, Millicent, who has some unusual qualities. Today she would likely have been determined to have some sort of disability. In her time, her quirks made her the object of scorn, ridicule, and other peoples' ignorant jokes. Members of her own family want to lock her away, not only so that they won't have to deal with her, b This is one of those stories where a man and a woman from different classes fall in love. However, there is so much more to the story than that. Agnes Thorman has a younger sister, Millicent, who has some unusual qualities. Today she would likely have been determined to have some sort of disability. In her time, her quirks made her the object of scorn, ridicule, and other peoples' ignorant jokes. Members of her own family want to lock her away, not only so that they won't have to deal with her, but so that her existence won't cast dispersion on the sanity (and therefore suitability) of their pedigree. (Agnes is her sole advocate and spends her days saving her from being institutionalized or wandering off somewhere.) The family was once wealthy, and that is not the case now. Agnes' and Millie's three older brothers are looking for ways to continue living the lives their titles indicate, even at times if it is only a facade. They overlook the repayment for recurring debts and continue scheming in order to keep up appearances. They care little for the welfare of their younger sisters. Their mother is sickly and detached. Their father is selfish and lacking in many qualities - among them integrity and maturity. At the same time, Robert Bradley is a working man, mostly skilled as a carpenter. His father has died, and his long-lost uncle offers him a job in his wood-working shop and habitation to patch up a past family squabble. At one time, Robert finds out, his uncle was engaged to Robert's mother, but she fell in love with his younger brother and married him instead. A grudge was held even after his own marriage and birth of a daughter. Now the uncle wants to make amends, and Robert takes the job. A misunderstanding occurs which sends Robert looking for employment again, and he becomes entangled with the Thorman family when he accepts work at their estate. Agnes treats him with the mild contempt that has been modeled by her peers and family toward men of Robert's class. There have also been scandalous rumors spread about Robert before he arrived, and the staff treat him with skepticism in response to these rumors. Robert comes to the rescue on several occasions, proving his character. However, class keeps the recipients of mercy from showing the amount of gratitude that was appropriate for Robert's compassion. One reason is that Robert is proud, and does not allow those of higher or even equal stature to talk to him as though he is worth less. He reads a lot and speaks as an educated man, which puts off those in his class and above it. He dresses as fine as he can afford to do, but not to prove anything. He takes pride in himself and tries to be the best that he can be, disregarding the heckling from others he often receives. The book becomes a story of two people who are very different, reacting to life through the eyes of what they have learned within their respective classes, finding themselves questioning it. What if all men in Robert's class are not ignorant? How is it that he treats me better than my own family does? Robert find Agnes a woman that he can talk to about serious subjects (such as in books), absent the games he has been subjected to by a number of women of his acquaintance. In short, he finds a woman who actually interests him. Both are aware of the result if they step over the line. There are plenty of others around them to remind them. People talk, even about situations that are not actual but imagined. This book is about how the two of them navigate some very choppy waters toward mutual understanding.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mookie

    There's some line in Anne of Green Gables where Anne describes the ocean as something that blows out the cobwebs of her soul. This is what Catherine Cookson books (at her best) do for me. I'm always sort of driven up and outward when reading my favourites by her, particularly The Moth and Fifteen Streets, and she expresses in me a wonderful sort of restlessness. Maybe its that she's able to pen words to abstract feelings. I dunno. I just know I'm grateful to have read her books. The critics are There's some line in Anne of Green Gables where Anne describes the ocean as something that blows out the cobwebs of her soul. This is what Catherine Cookson books (at her best) do for me. I'm always sort of driven up and outward when reading my favourites by her, particularly The Moth and Fifteen Streets, and she expresses in me a wonderful sort of restlessness. Maybe its that she's able to pen words to abstract feelings. I dunno. I just know I'm grateful to have read her books. The critics are justified, but at the end of the day, sometimes you gotta accept the formula, roll with it, and see it for the web of feelings it is. The Moth is the usual Cookson prototype of a woman burdened with thankless responsibilities and a-hole relatives. Agnes is tethered to the place and her situation due to the precarious situation of her developmentally-delayed sister, Millie. All she wants is marriage to her long-engaged partner James, not simply to free her from the place, but so that she could feel like an actual woman. But even then, marriage to James is a murky future. Once while trying to provoke a passionate kiss from him, he made a joke so rude she later tried to wash off the dirt it provoked from off of her. She fears spinsterhood, and sees it as something to be endured. "What a waste of life." Cookson often alludes to this fear of spinsterdom in her books, and I can understand it from two angles. There's the realistic one, in that women of a certain era (i.e. anytime pre-1960s) were **nothing** if not married. They were meant to be both invisible and laboriously useful. Secondly, I sense in Cookson's portrayal of spinsterhood a fear of life without passion, without love. It is one thing to be invisible to society, and a whole other thing to be invisible to love. I often wonder why it is people often lump Cookson books as the 'U.K's Danielle Steele', i.e. romantic trash, when I never see the romance in CC's books. It's never really a love story, but more of an elemental attachment that needs to bridge, whether you like it or not. I'm not articulate enough to explain why, but I sense that Cookson's books are in a way subversive to Romance. Speaking of subversive, I adore Robert Bradley. CC often writes men as either brash or gentle, Robert is neither of these things. A middle-man who doesn't want to walk the line or play the field. He is just incredibly interesting to read. He lives life for himself, not selfishly as some of the townspeople think, but thoughtfully. Why waste his life in mediocre marriage, or in subservience? Why be a soldier, when war is a construct made by powers that don't serve him? He's not an activist in these opinions, but simply and quietly reflected his understandings onto his life goals and is happy to go along his way living life for him. Just sucks for him that he goes ahead and falls in love with someone absolutely cloistered in the same classist structure that he happily dismisses. Anyhow, his pain is our pleasure. I'll stop rambling but quickly add that I hope there's a book out there where CC really unravels what she means by "how dirty people could make life. How they could stain a beautiful thing, and once stained by slander it was indelible, it was there for always". YASSS. I want to explore this more. This book, and its movie, is YUM pour moi.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shaista

    Another page turner by the author

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rowlie

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Gripping until the very end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I have been stuck on this one for months, and I am calling it quits on this one. I kept feeling that the storyline does have promise, and yet I just can't force myself to continue this book. I feel it is dragging so slowly that I just don't care enough to continue. I hate to be a quitter, but several months is just too long to keep struggling with it. I desperately need a fast page turner novel to carry me away afar off.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lili

    I read all of Catherine Cookson's books some years ago and enjoyed them immensley. I recently re-read all of them and find that on a second look I found them all so very predictable, and was rather disappointed. However I'm sure that it is my tastes that have changed not the calibre of her story telling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Smith

    Bought the original hardback as I could never wait to read Catherine Cookson's books even then. A great read in my opinion. The story of Robert Bradley whose encounter with Millie "The Moth" led him to a change of employment from self-employed due to a falling out with his uncle to a servant in Millie's house and his prickly relationship with the Butler and at times Millie's eldest sister Agnes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I didn't enjoy this book at all. I found it slow, poorly written, and lacking in good morals. However, I loved the movie by itvDVD! Usually, it's the other way around: I'll love the book and feel the movie fell short. Not in this case, apparently.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbra

    As a diversion from his job in his uncle's carpentry shop, newly arrived Robert Bradley began to explore the Durham countryside. It was on one of these walks that he met Millie, the ethereal girl-child whose odd ways and nocturnal wanderings has led her to be known locally as Thorman's Moth.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Cookinham

    Catherine Cookson was a light candy snack while I continue to tackle Ulysses...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cws

    F Coo

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This is one of the most beautiful stories I`ve ever read. This is one of the most beautiful stories I`ve ever read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    4 stars until the ending, which I found a bit too harsh. It's supposedly a happy ending, but it's definitely not in every sense.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    3.5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ileen Warren

    Know that I am a hopeless romantic, I love this book. Or author writes with the most pure romances.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    One of Cookson's finest.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    i couldn't get into this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carol H.

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