The Valley : A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family
The close-knit villages of the Dearne Valley were home to four generations of the Hollingworth family. Spanning Richard Benson's great-grandmother Winnie's ninety-two years in the valley, and drawing on years of historical research, interviews and anecdotes, The Valley lets us into generations of carousing and banter as the family's attempts to build a better and fairer world for themselves meet sometimes with triumph, sometimes with bitter defeat. Against a backdrop of underground explosions, strikes and pit closures, these are unflinching, deeply personal stories of battles between the sexes in a man's world sustained by strong women; of growing up, and the power of love and imagination to transform lives.
- Hardback | 544 pages
- 158 x 236 x 50mm | 939.99g
- 24 Apr 2014
- Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- London, United Kingdom
It's hard to imagine a more compelling account of its generational aftereffects than the one contained here ... Profoundly moving ... To be allowed to share all of those secrets is, as Benson notes, a privilege for the writer - but it's a privilege for the reader too. This is social history at its very best * GQ Magazine * The moving history of four generations of one Yorkshire mining family. Through them emerges the story of 20th century working-class England * Woman & Home * This rare and finely tempered work serves up a devastating combination of memory and imagination ... The Valley is a landmark history * Literary Review * The detail is delivered in a fine poetic rhythm ... Wonderfully evocative ... Not for a heartbeat is there a false or faltering note as various life stories unfurl and conflate, invariably amid hardship and leading to heartbreak * The Times * Could not be more meticulous or magically intimate if it tried ... Exquisite, finely worked texture of petit point ... the reader comes to feel he is holding not a book of social history in his hands, but a fat and vivid novel ... The Valley is a masterpiece of empathy and good writing, and I hope that in months to come it will be on the receiving end of a great deal of reciprocal love * Observer * Benson captures the hard graft and constant perils of colliery life with cinematic vividness ... For an unvarnished, well-crafted obituary of the human side of mining, there won't be anything better than The Valley * Independent * The early sections of The Valley recall the world described by D. H. Lawrence in Sons and Lovers but, with her spirit guides and secret passions, Winnie could have wandered in from the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude ... The Valley is an extraordinary book about hidden lives ***** * Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph * Intensely enjoyable * Sunday Times * How many social reports have you read that combine the epic sweep of Gone With The Wind with the microscopic intensity of Tolstoy ... Extraordinary ... There is no need for photographs to put a face to the individuals so compellingly captured by Benson **** * Sunday Express * Fascinating * Daily Express * Vivid * Daily Telegraph * Remarkable ... Benson's book is a masterpiece of empathetic imagination * Lucy Lethbridge, Financial Times * I wish I'd written it. Richard Benson's new book, a sprawling masterpiece chronicling 100 years in the life of one mining family in the Dearne Valley, is social history as it is meant to be. Neither novel nor documentary, it is a compelling hybrid of both * Yorkshire Post * Benson relates more than the story of a hard land and proud culture; this is a saga about hard-working men and strong-minded women who bolstered one another through the many strikes and struggles of the 20th century * Saga * Epic ... Benson captures the hard graft and constant perils of colliery life with cinematic vividness, especially in the set-pieces on mining accidents. For an unvarnished, well-crafted story of the human side of mining, there won't be anything better than The Valley * Independent * Intensely enjoyable * Sunday Times, Must Reads * The Valley is like one of those photographs brought vividly to life in prose ... While the book is meticulously researched, there is never a sense of the political or historical taking over from the stories of the family members Benson describes * Yorkshire Post * Benson is a true writer - at times, a poet ... It is hard not to be reminded of certain works by D. H. Lawrence ... The Valley is a wonderful achievement, alive with characters, a rich social history as much as a family memoir * Economist * He transforms the long littleness of life into an epic, and a masterpiece * Intelligent Life * Benson's writing is a constant pleasure in this rich oral history of a century in his mining family life * Sunday Times, Summer Reading * Meticulous, vivid, engrossing * Evening Standard Summer Reading * An epic, century-spanning work that considers the rise and fall of the mining industry (and the working class) in one Yorkshire Valley * Big Issue * An intriguing and moving history * Nick Curtis, Evening Standard Books of the Year * Remarkable ... Evokes a century of his family's life in the South Yorkshire coalfield with the sensual power of a novel * Alison Light, Observer Books of the Year * Beautiful and amazingly empathetic * Rachel Cooke, Observer Books of the Year *
About Richard Benson
Richard Benson is the author of the number one bestseller The Farm, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2005 and a 2006 Richard and Judy Book Club choice. He was born in the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire, and lives in London with his wife and two daughters.