The Hat Maker

About the novel...

The Hat Maker” (pub. 2017) is Dr. Sonja Strode’s second novel. In it she traces the lives of a young female and male born in the impoverished docklands of Newport, South Wales, UK, in the 1870s. Both young people eventually leave the land of their birth: Mary takes up employment as a domestic servant in Herefordshire; William sets sail to America.

Life’s twists and turns net Mary and William into unanticipated social and cultural milieux full of tragic and wonderful consequences. The narrative simultaneously sheds light on some aspects of class and cultural divisions in the United Kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth; it also reveals how some aspects of human life can cut across such divisions, leading to more shared understanding, cooperation, and interaction.


Excerpts from ‘The Hat Maker’

“ .....For many of her fans or frequenters of her vernissages, it didn’t matter that she preferred the ‘other sex’s’ apparel, or shared her bed with ‘her own sex’. It wasn’t always like that... And in many dusty corners in London and beyond not much has changed on the attitude front, she mused: not about women like me, Clementine, and Primrose. The infamous triad!

“Watch out, Clara! That champagne is about to feed the cow!”

“Oh, yes! I was just carried away for a moment.”

Clara glanced at the black and white creature now lifelessly adorning the parquet floor. She was wondering about the poor thing’s existence in more pastoral settings before its descent into, well, semi oblivion, at least; illuminated now, though, by the waxy candlelight and enticing cigar smoke snaking through the room.....” (from Prologue in “The Hat Maker”)

“..... “God only knows when he’s going to fix that gate! Did you see it? It’s just hanging on to that bit of skinny wire.”

“Yes, Mam. I’ve got all brown stuff over me now. Look!”

“Mrs. Jones rapped loudly on the back door of the pub, noting the need for a lick of paint. She straightened up her pinny, which her daughter noticed “could do with a bit of a wash, Mam”.

“God, Mam! Hark at that! I can hear and smell their noisy birds from here!”

“Aye, well just hold your nose when you go in, love. If he was my bugger I’d tell ’im just what to do with ’em.” (From Chapter 1 in “The Hat Maker”)

“.....Thank God my George en like that! And you can say this much for Gladys’s old man, he’s not afraid of a bit of ’ard work, even if he comes from Cornwall, and likes his beer when he’s back from a trip abroad. Still, it’s ’ard at sea all that time. Like working down the pit. They need to get the salt back in them, that’s what my old man tells me.

“Funny really! You’d think sailors would get enough salt in them out on the high seas!”

The three females laughed loudly on hearing that, following Mrs. Jones’s praise of Albert Roberts.

“Formerly Captain Roberts”, as her daughter promptly reminded her.

I don’t know who she’s like, our Mary. Sipping her tea, Elsie Jones returned to the delicate subject of.....” (From Chapter 1 in “The Hat Maker”)

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Dr. Sonja Strode...
The Hat Maker by Dr Sonja Strode
Doctor Sonja Strode
Publisher: tuesdaybooks.co.uk

ISBN: 978–2–9540755–5–6
Paperback: £7.99

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