Set in Cumbria and covering the period from 1898 to the early twenties, this is the powerful saga of John Tallentire, first farm labourer, then coal miner, and his wife Emily. John's struggle to break free from the humiliating status of a 'hired man' is the theme of a novel which has been hailed as a classic of its kind - as meticulously detailed as a social document, as evocative as the writings of Hardy and Lawrence. First published in 1969, it was widely praised by critics and later adapted for a successful West End musical by Howard Goodall.
An intensely moving, deeply worked book - Sunday Telegraph
It is an extraordinary blend of delicacy and harsh simplicity which makes Melvyn Bragg a remarkable novelist. The perception with which he traces the currents of feeling between John and Emily, the gathering and receding of emotion, have a cumulative power of enormous conviction, a steady hardening of experience which is deeply unsetting and moving - The Times
A magnificently strong and sinewy novel - Sunday Mirror