Gathering The Water

Written by Robert Edric
Review by Cathy Kemp

Imagine how you would feel if your home was put under a compulsory purchase order and the area turned into a reservoir to facilitate neighbouring towns to develop. Charles Weightman was the overseer whose task it was to act on behalf of the company and ensure that the evictions were undertaken in addition to acting as recorder of the flooding of the valley.

Set in the North of England in 1847 with a people who, in the main, have not travelled far from their own valley and with winter on the way, it is far from hospitable for a stranger. The task is a thankless one and unsupported by the bailiff who is arrested for embezzlement of the funds allocated for compensation. Charles, as an outsider, feels isolated and vulnerable but finds some support from the company of Mary Latimer. Though born and raised in the area, Mary is also excluded from the local community because of her sister, who has recently been released from a mental institution against medical advice. There is some comfort to be found in the odd relationship which develops between the two of them, though Mary remains the more aloof.

The reader is drawn to empathise with the two main characters as they struggle with the challenges which beset them but there is no equivalent empathy elicited on behalf of the unfortunate inhabitants being evicted. Edric gives realism to the harshness of an alien environment with some conviction and has turned out a credible story.