As is often the case with historical novels, setting is extremely important in Lyddie. Much of the book is devoted to recreating the lives of the young women who worked in American factories during the first half of the nineteenth century. The novel, which begins in 1843, is set both in rural Vermont and industrial Massachusetts. The protagonist, Lyddie Worthen, has been raised in a cabin surrounded by pastures dotted with sugar bush. Isolated from society and providing little shelter against wild animals and the harsh weather, the cabin becomes a prison for Lyddie and her younger brother, Charlie, who must spend a winter there alone. Later, it becomes a temporary hideout for the runaway slave, Ezekial Abernathy.

When Lyddie is finally forced to leave the farm, she journeys to an industrialized world, first working in Cutler's Tavern, which is three times the size of the Worthen Cabin. Lyddie eventually goes to Lowell, Massachusetts, where she takes a job with the Concord Manufacturing Company, working in the weaving room. Like the Worthen cabin, the mill also imprisons Lyddie. At first, the factory seems like a nightmare with gigantic looms that have come to life and noise which sounds like "a hundred stagecoaches all inside one's skull, banging their wheels against the bone." The weaving room is also prison like, with locked windows and closed doors. While the wages Lyddie earns at the factory seem her only hope for buying the Worthen farm, she...

(The entire section is 309 words.)