Harriet escapes the harsh life of a 'flither-lass' in a Yorkshire fishing village, to York in search of a new one.
Samuel is a gentleman. He is a Quaker, a philanthropist; and he is a collector of photographs showing working-class girls in their working clothes. He wants Harriet's photograph for his collection.
From their meeting in a chance encounter comes an extraordinary tale. Set in York in the late 1800s, The Sweetest Thing is an intimate story played out in the shadow of the cocoa factory and the asylum, the photographic studio and the Meeting House; a brilliant contemporary novel about late-Victorian life. It gives us a world of morality, espionage and cocoa, where one man believed he could make his fortune from a mouthful of sugar and a pin-up girl.
"The Sweetest Thing captures all the mouth-watering sweetness of desire (for freedom, for cocoa, for a face in a photograph), as well as the dusty grit it leaves on the lips." Emma Donoghue 'richly researched, warmly characterised and admirably humane' Daily Mail
Fiona Shaw lives in York. She is the author of the extrarordinary memoir of post-natal depression, Out of Me, also from Virago..