Abridged from Richard Benson's epic family saga The Valley, the focus of this Book of the Week is on the story of the author's grandmother - Winnie Hollingworth (1909 - 2002) - and her life in the mining villages of the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire.
This remarkable social history draws on years of research, interviews and anecdote which chart generations of carousing and banter, tears and fights all set against the background of a close-knit community where almost everybody worked either in the mines or the mills.
Richard Benson's first book, THE FARM which related the story of his own parents and brother and their livelihood in the Yorkshire Wolds was described as ' an extraordinary mixture of hardness and tenderness, wit and slog.. wonderful ' Ronald Blythe author of Akenfield. It went on to be a no.1 bestseller.
This new book is a powerful and moving achievement - it follows Winnie from her first romantic encounter: 'her heart beating hard and fast down in her whalebone and elastic' to her final years sitting in the lounge of a long rubber-tiled room with high-backed chairs around the walls.. ' where 'the residents either roost mutely or chat while their eyes search the room for a younger person who might play the piano for them.'
Ep. 1 : Miner, Walter Parkin brings his wife Annie to the Dearne Valley; at the age of fourteen their daughter Winnie goes into service, but her father's unpredictable temper exacerbated by war injuries, does not make her life easy.
Read by Richard Stacey
Producer: Jill Waters
Abridged and directed by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.