The Mill for Grinding Old People Young Paperback – 3 Jan 2013
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'The mark of successful historical fiction is that it has unforced resonances for the time it is being read in. The Mill for Grinding Old People Young is such a novel . . . [the] mix of the real and the imagined gives Patterson s novel both depth and charge . . . In Gilbert Rice he has created a humane hero for his times as well as ours.' --Mary Morrisey, Irish Times
'Gilbert Rice is as complex a figure as Patterson has created. His life embodies the art of deception; he debunks stereotype; and the voice of the older Gilbert, the voice of the prose, contains all the nuance of one whose life has run the gamut from disappointment to achievement. The last dozen pages change voice and direction, framing Gilbert in others words. They bring completion to the story, along with a sense of documentary authenticity and pathos and a true sense of real lives lived.' --Tom Adair, Scotsman
'Northern Ireland's best novelist . . . [a] boisterous yet touching tale.' --Sunday Herald
'As with all good love stories, you care what happens to the characters . . . to give away the ending would be a disservice to Patterson, whose solid craftsmanship is evident throughout . . . he has fashioned a love story in which two people from wildly different backgrounds are thrown together in circumstances that will transform their lives.' --David Robson, Sunday Telegraph
'[His] finest novel. The narrator's voice is a triumph.' --Guardian
'Beautifully crafted . . . Inspired by real people and places, this novel offers a view of the city that most Dubliners will never have seen before, and it s a sight for sore eyes, and a joy besides.' --Irish Times
The Mill for Grinding Old People Young, by Glenn Patterson, is at once a novel about a young man who is caught up in the political fever of the times and a love story about discovering who you are and how you define yourself.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The Mill For Grinding Old People Young is basically a history lesson for Belfast. Narrated in 1897 by an old man, Gilbert Rice, looking back at his youth, we find ourselves in Belfast pretty much as the Industrial Revolution arrives. If you love Belfast, it will be a treat to visit familiar streets and see them in such a different context. And it may be shocking to realise how little of that history we ever knew. For example, we find Castle Place dominated by (who would have thought it) a Castle. The castle of the Chichesters, no less, one of whom (Lord Donegall) gave his name to so many of the streets. Instead of the City Hall, we have the White Linen Hall - hence Linenhall Street and the Linenhall Library. Ormeau is the country seat of the Chichesters; Ballymacarrett is a separate and rural settlement across the river; the docks were tidal sludge; Shankhill had an H, Glengormley was all farms, and Belfast was 100% Protestant. Almost...
The story, such as it is, concerns plans and schemes to upgrade the harbour and docks. Plus, Gilbert discovers what's inside his trousers as he falls for a serving maid at the wonderfully named inn: The Mill For Grinding Old People Young. The story is told in Gilbert's voice, a pastiche Victorian language.Read more ›
The Mill for Grinding Old People Young is narrated by Belfast man, Gilbert Rice, in 1897. At the age of 85, his health is failing yet he has vivid memories of his youth in a rapidly changing city. In the 1830s the city's population was expanding rapidly in response to industrialisation and the influx of a vast new workforce. Gilbert has had a relatively sheltered childhood, brought up by a strict but kindly grandfather, but he enters a new exciting world when he starts work at the Ballast Office at the Port of Belfast. There is the constant fear of a cholera epidemic which leads to a wariness of foreigners. There is a wide chasm between the landed gentry and the ordinary working folk although both like to indulge in a bit of gambling at cock-fights! Gilbert makes his way through an ever changing world, making mistakes en route, growing up in a city which is also finding its feet.
Written in an easy, accessible style, this intriguing novel opens a window on the past of a city which has constantly had to reinvent itself. From the opening pages, you have a sense of Belfast as a living, breathing organism and there's a lot of affection and humour from Gilbert as he takes you on a tour of a city in its heyday.Read more ›
Patterson expertly tells the tale of the youthful misadventures of Gilbert Rice, in the early 1830s, against the backdrop of a singular Irish town which is beginning its transformation into an industrial imperial powerhouse. One can almost taste the saltiness in this outward-facing and decidedly maritime Belfast, its harbour the point of entry for all sorts of exotic influences.
The narrative is framed by the much older Gilbert Rice, now venerated as one of the titanic Victorian builders of the industrial city that Belfast has become in the meantime. With this clever device, and a wonderfully imaginative use of a fantastic bit of architectural trivia (one example of many, of meticulous research), Patterson gives us a century-and-a-half of Belfast, from the United Irishmen through to the Luftwaffe.
It's a stunning achievement of creative imagination; it is perhaps Patterson's best work yet, which is saying quite something, since his place among the finest living Irish writers is undisputed. With this novel, he has created an evocative version of his native city that will surely come to be known as 'Pattersonian Belfast'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More a 'Travel tour' of Belfast and its environs which was interesting but storyline was weak and lacking in substance. Ended abruptly.....Published 11 months ago by Brian O'Reilly
This was a very good and interesting way of introducing the reader to life in the old city of Belfast - up to around first decade of 20th Century. Read morePublished 19 months ago by fingers finnucane
really good read we used in our book club for discussionPublished on 2 July 2014 by MRS SHEELAGH WALSH
Belfast, a city that has (it seems) always had more than it's fair share of problems ( trouble has a much more complex definition when applied here) seen through the eyes of the... Read morePublished on 22 July 2013 by R A Marsh
This is a well researched historical novel which really holds the attention and has quite a thrilling climax. Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2013 by M. Chan
An unusual book, very well written; the historical references were fascinating. It is the first book I have read by this author and would like to read more.Published on 15 Jan. 2013 by Mr. Michael Jude Kelly