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26 Reviews
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And Quiet flows …the Dearne
I know South Yorkshire's Dearne valley and the social and historical context of this book intimately, having grown up, worked in and studied (as an academic) the locations in which it is set. The accuracy and sensitivity with which Richard Benson renders the working class culture built around coal mining as it ebbs and flows across the generations and finally succumbs to...
Published 8 months ago by Geoff Bright

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book.
Fascinating, but somewhat politically biased.
Published 7 months ago by E. Houlder


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And Quiet flows …the Dearne, 13 May 2014
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I know South Yorkshire's Dearne valley and the social and historical context of this book intimately, having grown up, worked in and studied (as an academic) the locations in which it is set. The accuracy and sensitivity with which Richard Benson renders the working class culture built around coal mining as it ebbs and flows across the generations and finally succumbs to the cruelty of politically orchestrated de-industrialisation, is remarkable. I know (professionally) how hard it is to avoid the twin traps of nostalgia and polemic with this material and Benson navigates around both with consummate skill, at the same time always maintaining a narrative drive that extends the book's reach way beyond the title's understated ambitions as a family chronicle. The sense of life being lived and made as everyday tragedies and small-scale splendours unfold within a rich, politicised (and now disappeared) structure of feeling; the deep, almost geological continuities of family through time and place; both of these characteristics reminded me, in the very best way, of those large, ambitious and steadily flowing works of Sholokov, such as "And Quiet Flows the Don". In short, I know the literature of coal mining culture in great detail, and this book quietly and gently takes its place among the best material worked from that seam for a long time. This is an important and valuable work that far exceeded my expectations, hence five stars.
Dr Geoff Bright, Education and Social research Institute,Manchester Metropolitan University
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant reviews in the papers were all well-deserved, 30 April 2014
This review is from: The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family (Hardcover)
I thought the author must know all the journalists, the newspaper reviews for this book were so good. But for once they were justified. This is an amazing work. Compelling, warm, sad, funny, moving, and a window on a lost world. RIP the mining industry. Its demise was a scandal. This book is a must for anyone interested in social history, but also for anyone who loves a family saga. It's gripping, and to think that it is based on the author's actual family is staggering. You couldn't make it up. I thoroughly recommend this gem of a book. The only drawback? How heavy it is to carry around! Because you won't be able to put it down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 14 May 2014
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Grew up in the same village so knew of quite a few of the characters mentioned. Moved away from the area as an adult so it was quite a trip down memory lane. Found the coverage of the miners struggles over the years very informative, not something my own father (a miner himself) ever talked about.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping family and social history, 11 May 2014
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D. Cameron (England) - See all my reviews
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I found this compelling reading, from the spiritualist daughter of a miner in the early 1900s, right up to the present day. It's character "driven" but this is set against social/political and economic history - the family are therefore both a counterbalance and part of, the bigger picture. Wonderful stories, sad and amusing, deep and thoughtful. I finished this long book in a few days and i now miss the family! Excellent and highly recommended (excellent on the kindle as it means it's not too heavy to carry around :-)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Valley, a must read., 15 May 2014
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Brilliant book, written as if it were a novel.
The research has been excellent and the accuracy of events first class. Read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Valley by Richard Benson, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family (Hardcover)
Fascinating book. I am really enjoying it. It is interesting to follow the characters through the generations against the background of the industrial north.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very insightful......., 23 May 2014
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Very insightful and enjoyable. A social history.
Would recommend to Yorkshire folk and those interested in modern history and coal mining in England.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating family story, 9 Nov. 2014
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Nicola in South Yorkshire "nicola_in_southyorks" (UK) - See all my reviews
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The Valley tells the story of several generations of Richard Benson's family who lived and worked in the Dearne Valley, South Yorkshire. Most of the men in the book were miners and there's a fair bit of history relating to miners' strikes. The book is non-fiction but told in a way that is much more interesting than just a book of facts. For me it's the best kind of family story - facts interspersed with imaginings of what people might have said and done, with conversations and family folklore retold.

It's a big book at just over 500 pages, but a very human story with characters to like and some to dislike. The author writes about them without bias and I found it all really interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Benson's book, written for his family, of which, I am proud to say, am a member., 25 May 2014
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This review is from: The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family (Hardcover)
This is a sympathetic and carefully written account of four generations in a family. Very well written, meticulously researched showing a deep understanding and empathy for the problems that the family encountered.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read., 30 July 2014
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This review is from: The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family (Hardcover)
What a good book. I know this area and quite a number of the people mentioned. I recognise one character from the 'Cora" whose name has been changed in the book! I worked at Barnburgh, Hickleton and Goldthorpe pits. Did my underground training at Manvers and went to school in Thurnscoe and Mexborough. I also drank in all the local clubs and pubs. Although I was quite young, I remember the explosion at Barnburgh. My dad and grandad worked there at the time.
Richard has managed to paint a truly memorable account of the Dearne Valley and it's great people.
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The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family
The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family by Richard Benson (Hardcover - 24 April 2014)
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