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Captain Swing and
the Blacksmith  

A Novel 

Beatrice Parvin’s debut novel Captain Swing and the Blacksmith, is set in the West Country in the 1840s, a time when the area was in the grip of poverty. It is haunted by memories of the Swing Riots 10 years before, when labourers caused extensive damage in a desperate attempt to increase starvation wages. Sue Trindall, the protagonist, is a character shaped by the trauma of the riots and the devastating effects that they had on her community.

Sue, a 17-year-old laundry presser, lives in Amesbury with her alcoholic father, a man known for his talent for persuasion. When Sue’s father is asked by protestors to write threatening notes signed ‘Captain Swing’, his family’s fortunes are changed forever. In order to earn money after her mother’s death, Sue starts selling buttons. One day, after finding a pair of pearl buttons embedded in mud outside the Town Hall, her fortunes start to look up. The attention of an apprentice blacksmith, Jack Straker, promises a brighter future. But when Jack abandons Sue in favour of her wealthy friend Eleanor, and she loses her precious buttons as a result of her father’s actions, Sue leave Amesbury, pregnant and devastated. And thereby begins her fight for survival…

Beatrice’s book takes inspiration from British folk music and tells the story of working class people through the songs that they wrote and sang. The book is accompanied by a collection of traditional and original tracks, performed by talented musicians, including the esteemed folk singer Emmie Ward and singer/songwriter Rebecca Hollweg. One of the accompanying tracks was the final piece of music written by Dave Swarbrick, fiddler and songwriter for Fairport Convention. Captain Swing and the Blacksmith will appeal to fans of historical fiction and those with a local interest in the West Country.

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Listen to the Music that Inspired the Book

Two original tracks from the album: Betsey Bobbin is an old nursery rhyme set to music by the late Dave Swarbrick and sung by Emmie Ward, and Captain Swing and the Blacksmith was written and composed by singer songwriter Rebecca Hollweg to accompany the novel.

‘What a talented group!’ 

‘Superb playing and singing.’

‘We really enjoyed the whole evening
thanks so much.’

Live Audience Reviews


‘Captain Swing and the Blacksmith’ has been launched as a special edition which includes the soundtrack CD. The print edition was published on September 2017, and has been getting great reviews. Get yours here with the free captivating soundtrack of original and traditional songs.

Book and CD: £12.99
£9.99 + £3.00 P&P)

What the readers say:

‘I so enjoyed the book and Sue’s tale….the writer kept me absolutely engrossed in her story and the historical detail and observation added to the realism and rawness in part.’

‘What a fabulous book this is – I think it has been extremely well written. There is a superb description of the horrors of the conditions in a workhouse which has brought tears to my eyes!’

 ‘A magnificent novel that I didn’t want to put down. I read with bated breath and savoured every word and felt bereft when it ended. Now I too want to wander the plain…’

‘I loved it – towards the end I couldn’t put it down. It raised so many issues and questions, and I loved the style, with just a few colloquialisms, but not so many that the narrative got bogged down.’

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