"COPPER KINGDOM is set at the turn of the century in the South Wales town of Sweyn's Eye - the old name for Swansea, where Iris Gower has lived all her life. The story centres around two families and one woman. The families clash through years of class welfare, drama, heartache and love affairs, for in every way they stand opposed. The Richardsons are copper barons - lords of the Sweyn's Eye copper smelting industry, rich, powerful, facing only reluctantly the possibility that their wealth may be in jeopardy as the demand for copper wanes. The Llewelyns are a poor family, facing every day the prospect of unemployment and all its attendant miseries - too poor to afford more than a pauper's funeral when Mrs Llewelyn dies, too proud to allow the neighbours to know. Linking these two very different families is one fiery and determined woman - Mali Llewelyn. On her shoulders rest the burden of the family fortunes. When she is offered a job in the local laundry she takes it - determined to fight her way to prosperity as a businesswoman, while in secret she battles with her hopeless love for Sterling Richardson, heir to the copper kingdom of Sweyn's Eye."
The familiar, unrefined ore: a turn-of-the-century South Wales copper-mining-village romance - complete with cottage lass, handsome mine-owner, one-shot pregnancies, upper-class scandal, and the capping mine explosion. Pretty Mali Llewelyn and her mine-worker father Davie are on the outs because Da (recently widowered) has been keeping company with flossy Rosa. But meanwhile Mali herself has been uncomfortably attracted to sterling mine-owner Sterling Richardson, who plans a new mining future by switching to zinc. . . but faces some hefty problems. First of all, unbeknownst to Sterling, his real father was mine-partner James Cardigan - so brother Rickie (a rotter) is the true Richardson heir. Furthermore, Sterling (again unbeknownst) has impregnated his half-sister Bea Cardigan - who learns the truth and has a secret, near-fatal abortion. And even more disaster looms when Mali (now office-manager for a laundry) slides into Sterling's arms "like a startled faun." Her Da is critically injured with molten copper - thanks to the slimy boyfriend (errand-boy for Rickie Richardson) of Mali's chum Katie; Davie's compensation money - with which Mali had planned to buy a partnership in the laundry - is stolen by Rosa; Rickie plots against Sterling's mining ventures; lovers' misunderstandings abound. (Mali thinks Sterling was responsible for Davie's death; Sterling glowers about, believing Mali to be promiscuous.) But after a mine explosion - engineered by Rickie & Co. - the wicked (and a few of the pure) will be out of action, all secrets will be revealed. . . and Sterling and Mali meld mettles. An unseasoned serving of old chestnuts, unconvincing but serviceable. (Kirkus Reviews)