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The Lost Women of Mill Street – welcoming Kinley Bryan and her latest release!

Today, I am happy to welcome Kinley Bryan to my blog, as part of her Coffee Pot Book Club blog tour. I am also happy to have signed up for a review, as The Lost Women of Mill Street was a very enjoyable read. Find my review further down!


1864: As Sherman’s army marches toward Atlanta, a cotton mill commandeered by the Confederacy lies in its path. Inside the mill, Clara Douglas weaves cloth and watches over her sister Kitty, waiting for the day her fiancé returns from the West.
When Sherman’s troops destroy the mill, Clara’s plans to start a new life in Nebraska are threatened. Branded as traitors by the Federals, Clara, Kitty, and countless others are exiled to a desolate refugee prison hundreds of miles from home.
Cut off from all they’ve ever known, Clara clings to hope while grappling with doubts about her fiancé’s ambitions and the unsettling truths surrounding his absence. As the days pass, the sisters find themselves thrust onto the foreign streets of Cincinnati, a city teeming with uncertainty and hostility. She must summon reserves of courage, ingenuity, and strength she didn’t know she had if they are to survive in an unfamiliar, unwelcoming land.

Inspired by true events of the Civil War, The Lost Women of Mill Street is a vividly drawn novel about the bonds of sisterhood, the strength of women, and the repercussions of war on individual lives.

Buy it HERE

My review:

It is 1824, and in the town of Roswell the predominantly female workers at the town’s cotton mill are getting worried. The Union troops are creeping closer and closer to this Georgian town, and while most of the affluent inhabitants of Roswell have fled, the mill workers do not have that option: they are not paid in money but in kind, which sort of ties them to the place. Besides, where would they go?

Among the women are Clara and Kitty Douglas, two sisters. Clara is the eldest and constantly worries about Kitty who at only fifteen has developed a constant cough brought on by all the lint in the mill. Since some years back, the sisters only have each other, but Clara hopes this will change soon—her Benjamin set off a while ago to claim land in Nebraska, and soon enough he’ll send for them. Not that Clara necessarily hankers for the hard life of a homesteader: she dreams of becoming a milliner but dismisses this as being impossible. After all, she is dirt poor and uneducated—even if she does know how to read and write.

The Union soldiers take Roswell. They burn the mills and take all the women prisoners, saying they’re traitors to the Union. Soon, Clara and Kitty are transported due north, away from the life they have known. After some time in a detention centre in Louisville, they end up in Cincinnati—the biggest city west of Pennsylvania.

The Lost Girls of Mill Street highlights a facet of history we rarely talk about, namely the displacement caused by the Civil War. Met with scorn or open distrust, Clara and Kitty are to realise that in the northern states, a southern accent can have people spit “sesech” after you, refusing to even consider hiring someone from the Confederate states.

Clara is constantly anxious, constantly overprotective, while Kitty chafes at being so smothered by her sister.  It is Kitty who dares dream—for both of them. It is also Kitty who knows the truth about Benjamin, a truth she tries to keep from Clara for as long as possible.

Ms Bryan offers vivid descriptions of her various settings, especially of Cincinnati, still part frontier town, part industrial hub. She describes the rising tensions leading up to the 1864 election, spirits running so high people get shot in the street—and Lincoln, of course, gets shot at the theatre. But the Lost Girls of Mill Street is also about ice skating for the first time, of two young women growing into their own in a world that may at times be dangerous but is also full of opportunity—for those that dare.

An evocative read, warmly recommended!

Kinley Bryan’s debut novel, Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury, inspired by the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 and her own family history, won the 2022 Publishers Weekly Selfies Award for adult fiction. An Ohio native, she lives in South Carolina with her husband and three children. The Lost Women of Mill Street is her second novel.





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1 thought on “The Lost Women of Mill Street – welcoming Kinley Bryan and her latest release!”

  1. Thank you so much for hosting Kinley Bryan today, Anna, and for your lovely review. I’m glad you enjoyed The Lost Women of Mill Street.

    Take care,
    Cathie xx
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

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