August 25, 2020

#BookReview: The Mill Of Lost Dreams by Lori Rohda

Synopsis: Between 1870 and 1900, twelve million people immigrated to America. Hundreds of thousands of them came to work in the textile mills of Fall River, Massachusetts. The Mill of Lost Dreams is a story of love, friendship and sacrifice that provides an inside view into the world of textile mills and the daily life of seven courageous souls who leave home and risk everything for their shared dream of a better life: Angelina and Guido Wallabee, who have left their family’s failed farm in Italy; eleven-year-old Miranda Alysworth and her fifteen-year-old brother, Francois, who have escaped from indentured service in Canada; twins Phoebe and Charlie Dougherty, the children of Irish immigrant parents, who, though not yet thirteen, are forced to work in Troy Mill to support their family after their father’s untimely death; and eleven-year-old, Anne Kenny, an orphan who’s never known where she came from. All but one take jobs in Troy Mill in Fall River. Over the course of seven decades, there are marriages, births, secrets exposed, friendships tested, and innocence lost. Some succeed in making a new life away from harm but pay a terrible price. Many cannot build the life they dreamed of and the consequences impact and shape the lives of their children―and their children’s children.


Rating: ⭐⭐
My Review: 
It was hard to figure out how to rate The Mill of Lost Dreams - not because any part of it was that good, but more because so many parts of it were that bad. The final chapter was the only chapter I sort of enjoyed, but the fact that there was sexual violence which served no purpose, the fact that the author’s writing felt like she was 100% disconnected from the characters and the story, despite claims that it was a personal story for her to be telling… It was such a relief to finish the final sentence and close the page.

At no point did I find myself invested in any of the characters. Heck, the final chapter was the POV of someone who wasn’t even mentioned (that I can recall) in the entire rest of the book, and she was somehow the most interesting character of them all. Had it been told in a series of “memories” through her eyes, I might ave actually cared more.

But I didn’t and, as a result, honestly cannot recommend this book. Sweeping generational saga it was not, as it honestly felt like the author lacked the skill or connection to anything that was going on - which, I’m not exactly sure. 

And to add insult to injury, she had so many chances to make references to things that were happening (everything from the massive immigration surge toward the West through World War 2, in fact) and the only world-changing event that even got a word in was World War 1, and even that was such a brief mention that you could blink and miss it. It’s hard to believe that 0% of the characters would be effected by such events as the Civil War, Women’s Suffrage, or the Great Depression. Again, the disconnect between the book and literally everything was the only real and profound thing I felt.

It was disappointing, to say the least.


“...richly told historical tale.”
Kirkus Reviews

“...I was really impressed with how perfectly paced the book was and found myself hooked from beginning to end, racing through it relatively quickly, always keen to read on.”
―Diary of a Bookish Mumma

About the Author

Lori Rohda is a former Assistant Dean of Students at Boston University and management consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Since retiring in 1998, she has divided her time between Boston, Massachusetts, and Whistler, British Columbia. She loves skiing, hiking, landscape design, reading, and traveling.

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