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This is one of A.J. Cronin's classic early works, describing the lives of miners in northern England. Long, but deeply interesting, even though it tells of a period [1909 to mid 1930's] which seems remote to us now. Coal mining, although very changed since then, has never been without danger or poverty. Cronin tells, basically, the stories of three families: Arthur Barras and his mine-owner father; David Fenwick, whose father and brothers are all miners, and his mother; and Joe Gowlan, who's determined to stop at nothing to amass as much power and money as he can. There is a huge number of subsidiary characters as well.
The narrator does the dialect very well, but to be frank, it is so thick in places as to be difficult to understand [I think Cronin meant it this way; at the time, that was the way the people spoke]. Cronin's style is both descriptive and terse; his dialogue is very believable, and the narrator does a very good job with both.
This is a book about several topics, not about miners alone. It's about the morality of power [absolute power corrupts absolutely], about war, about social injustice. A true classic, which stands alongside Cronin's other huge book, The Citadel.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I'll be honest, I bought this book because it was so cheap I thought it must be a mistake. I've bought some for full price I hated so figured I couldn't go wrong. It was a good choice as I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
This book was written in 1935 and is about the lives of coal miners. It covers the time period just before WWI and ends sometime before WWII. There are 3 main characters, two who begin as coal miners and the other the son of the mine owner. Their lives are all dramatically changed by the end of the story.
The narrator does well, except you can hear the paper rustling from his text. Additionally, some of the accents are so realistic it is difficult to understand much of what was said.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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A classic A.J. Cronin saga really well read by Arthur Blake. His voice is clear and he uses the Newcastle dialect for the speech sections, which I found gave it a lovely feel to it. This recording had a warning beside it, as it is an old recording. If you listen closely, you can hear the turning of the pages, but I found Arthur Blake's reading quite engrossing and after a while did not notice the failings. I have loved the books of A. J. Cronin for many years. This is another of his well known and good books. It is a story of a community living in dire poverty, yet with a degree of pride. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. If only books like this were written today, even better if they were dramatized. In the absence of either, we can revisit such authors as A.J. Cronin.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Bit distracting at first to hear pages being turned but got used to it and then liked that it felt like the reader was in the room rather than in a studio somewhere.