It is fitting, that a year on from the Olympics that I want to introduce you to a splendid Yorkshirewoman. You may recall that if Yorkshire was a country it would have been in the top 10 countries for the medal haul, so this grit and determination to succeed is hewn from the very ground of “God’s own Country”.
It’s 1903 and Eve Williams, a miners wife with three young children, spends her days cleaning, cooking, scrimping and saving to provide a good home and life for her family. Then tragedy strikes when her husband is killed in an accident in the pit. She has to cope with the grief and shock of her loss but is now the sole breadwinner. The coal mine is one of three owned by Lord Netherwood who resides in splendour at Netherwood Hall, and because he feels a responsibility towards his employees, eventually employs Eve at the Hall.
The sequence of events leading up to Eve working at the hall are a fascinating and informed history of the coal mining industry in South Yorkshire at the turn of the century and this is what makes this novel much more than a clogs and shawls saga. Sanderson acknowledges that she was prompted to write this after reading the wonderful Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey. Politics are a key theme running through this, particularly the formation of the NUM but on a lighter note, we are taken into the upstairs/downstairs life in Netherwood and the heart of the house; the kitchen! Eve is a talented cook and her “piece de resistance” is of course the Yorkshire Pudding – so much so, that after creating teeny, weeny puds for “them upstairs” to pop in the mouth at social gatherings, she ends up cooking for the King in London away from her beloved Yorkshire.
Now read on… to Ravenscliffe. One of the key characters that Eve forms a bond with in Netherwood is a Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich, a very politicized and creative woman. Her talents combined with the cooking skills of Eve have enabled them to set up a business, so now Anna is determined to invest in property. In this sequel we see the stirrings of the suffragette movement which has a profound effect on the family at the big house.
These two books have some extremely endearing characters and the best thing about a series is meeting up with them all again in Eden Falls. This time we travel to Jamaica 1909 where Silas (Eve’s brother) has opened a luxury hotel, BUT you’re going to have to wait until September for this, so do order and my lovely friends at Hive will keep your order and send it out to you when it’s published.
This is also the perfect opportunity to tell you about the best book on Yorkshire Puddings that I have seen; Great Book of Yorkshire Pudding by Elaine Lemm. All your puddings will rise to the occasion if you follow Elaine’s recipes.
Oh and one more Yorkshire Olympic reference, did you know that the amazing, stunning cauldron at the opening ceremony was built in a shed in Yorkshire… well there’s now’t so good as a Yorkshire shed.
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