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An absorbing, beautifully told story of wealth, family ties, and class conflict during the 19th century.
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Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many bestselling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.From Kirkus Reviews:
The families in Cookson's period novels shout a lot and are unhappy as only Cookson's families can be (The Obsession, p. 659, etc.) when they wrestle with the problems of class, backstreet affairs, and the leaking away of money through profligate sons. Here, in the late-19th-century environs of Newcastle, Samuel Fairbrother, a rough-hewn grandson of a cobbler and now a successful owner of shoe stores, looks ``beyond his station'' and buys a ``gentleman's residence'' in order to raise his eight children to better things. With the house comes the elegant butler Roger Maitland, who'll eventually teach them all a lesson about class and character. And yet Samuel makes an uneasy adjustment to his new circumstances, in spite of the elegant efforts of Maitland to smooth out some of those rough edges. Wife Alice, meanwhile, soon feeling neglected, is about to rebel, even to flirt with--of all people--the attractive Maitland; son Howard, liar and cheat, falls deep into gambling debt; the flighty Alicia has cast herself at a stable groom and is now pregnant; and Jessie is headed for a convent. But two sons are off to sea, one promising to take to studies, and then there's daughter Janet, a chip off the old tough block, Sam's anchor in domestic storms--and there are plenty: Sam takes a mistress, Alice leaves, and Howard the Horrid is up for murder. The last straw is the attraction between reliable Janet and none other than Maitland the butler, with passion stirring. Sam the ``upstart'' is enraged that Janet the ``lady'' would marry a ``servant.'' Again, Cookson characters are noisy and broad-brushed, in plots that are formulaic, but there's also that raw energy and those displays of that gutsy, yeoman slang of the last century, ``common as muck'' but gritty as an oatcake. A reliable Cookson production. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Bantam Press, 1996. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110593028481
Book Description BCA, 1996. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0593028481