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 4. Life in the Dearne changes with the outbreak of the Second World War. Harry continues to develop his musical and entertaining career, with more nights out on the circuit.
Read by Richard Stacey
Abridged and directed by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.