By Alice Jolly
Published Jun 2018
Tiny, hare-lipped orphan Mary Ann Sate – persecuted for her ‘devil’s mark’ and dismissed as a half-wit – is taken in by Mr Harland Cottrell as a servant in the Stroud Valleys of the 1830s. Living in total obscurity, she dies without leaving a trace, it seems, beyond a single line in the local death register- ‘Mary Ann Sate, 9 October 1887, Imbecile’. But Mary Ann was cleverer and more observant than those around her credited and, towards the end of her life, she took up a pen to write her own truth. Set against the upheavals of enclosure and the weavers’ riots, we are granted an immersive, domestic view of history, a vivid and poignant account of what it was to live through those times, amid the haunting landscape she so lovingly evokes. In this fictional found memoir, novelist Alice Jolly casts an unflinching female eye on real events, and gives joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.