The Courteous Cad is the third book In Catherine Palmer’s Miss Pickworth series. I didn’t get to read the second one yet because it was checked out. This one tells the story of Sarah’s younger sister Prudence.
Prudence is a beautiful girl with riotous blond curls and pink cheeks. Add this to her rather curvaceous figure and habit of flirting, and you get a girl everyone thinks is a “hen wit.” But Prudence has more to her than expected. She has been thwarted in love and has decided to devote herself to Christian works.
On a trip to Otley, Yorkshire she becomes acquainted with William Sherbourne, the owner of the local worsted mill. If, like me, you aren’t sure what that is, it’s a mill that produced a type of wool yarn used in lightweight cloth. Being a romance novel, they of course are attracted to each other but have to overcome a variety of problems.
Prudence finds the cause she needs in William’s mill. The mill workers, including children, are forced to work all day with inadequate food and the threat of beatings, not to mention the threat of life and limb from the mill’s machines. Prudence disguises herself as a peasant and gets a job as a spinner in the mill in her efforts to bring reform.
At the same time her influence is working on William who begins to mend his ways and become a better man. He has confessed his love but maintains that they can never marry. He believes her to prefect, than a fiend capable of the most terrible lies. Somehow they have to overcome their mutual misunderstandings and rely on faith to see them through. And what does Miss Pickworth have to say?
This novel illustrates some of the horror of the lives of mill workers and the steps that were taken to improve their lives. It is also an examination of the reforming and absolving power of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Unlike The Affectionate Adversary, The Courteous Cad is more story and less lecture. That made it more fun to read. I am now waiting for the second book to be returned so I can read it…..