What did I like about this book? Easy: its authenticity. This is what I expect from historical fiction: an authentic, realistic account of the time period with all the uncomfortabilities that go with it. I haven’t read The Quarry Bank Runaways (Book 1 of the series) yet but Mules; Masters and Mud can be read without having read the first book. Give this book a chance and don’t feel daunted by the dialect! The dialect adds flavor and flair and it may be challenging but I don’t want to be spoon-fed a story. I feel this is a very loving tribute to those western European workers of the 19th century that fought to make our western 20th century factories safer and somewhat human to work in. Highly recommended!
Here’s the book blurb: WARNING! This book may contain NUTS! (Non-Uniform Text Speech) In other words speech in what some have called “Olde English Vernacular.” It is spoken by characters in the book from the North, the Midlands and the South of England. There is a glossary at the end of the book to help if you can rise to the challenge. It adds shades of colour to this 19th century story that you may not be expecting.
When Mrs Alexander wrote about “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate” and declared that “God made them, high or lowly, and order’d their estate” in the ever popular hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful, she was probably reflecting one of the mores of the times. It would fit in well with prejudices and beliefs of the middle and upper classes that paternalism had indeed been intended by God, thus laws protecting the workers in their fields, mills and factories were not necessary. In the words of Browning so long as “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world!”
The continuing story of the Quarry Bank Runaways is about what happened to two cotton apprentices over three decades during the Industrial Revolution; first as qualified young men with hopes and later when they are full grown. By the start of the Victorian period the fates and their ambitions would have collided. Serious events and incidents, both personal and national, were about to impinge upon the lives of Thomas Priestley and Joseph Sefton, who had earlier run away from their apprentice master, Samuel Greg. What would cause a qualified mule spinner to give up his comparatively safe job and risk failure, ridicule or destitution? Ambitious and determined working class individuals like Tommy and Joe had to carefully step through a pathway involving love, loyalty and legal persecution and prejudice, from within the social hierarchy of the times.
The inspiration to write The Quarry Bank Runaways and Mules; Masters & Mud came about after reading The Real Oliver Twist by John Waller, a biography of Robert Blincoe, and acting as a tour guide around the Quarry Bank Mill Museum in England. There to discover the existence of the real apprentices and the lives of many child cotton apprentices during the Industrial Revolution.
Check out G. J. Griffiths’ home page here: https://www.gjgriffithswriter.com/
About the Author:
His first novel was Fallen Hero and the So What! series of three books followed and which are all focussed around the fictitious Birch Green High School. They include: So What! Stories or Whatever!, So What’s Next! and So What Do I Do? Each book is quite different in its overall context, e.g. a collection of the teachers’ experiences, creation of a school nature corner, and arson, fraud and murder. More recent works include poetry: Dizzyrambic Imaginings, two illustrated children’s sci-fi stories about ant-size aliens and a historical fiction based upon real characters from the Industrial Revolution period: The Quarry Bank Runaways.