The Coal Gatherer
Callie is one of many children born to Mary and Ebeneezer Ingram, fisher-folk who scratch a precarious and impoverished living on the north-east coast of England. Every day she goes to the shore to collect coal that washes up with each high tide. One day she meets middle-class Patricia Lazarus and her brother James which changes her life forever, creating friction, jealousy, heartache and ultimately happiness. On the surface this would seem a typical ‘poor but honest girl makes good’ novel. And so it is in some ways, but several aspects lift it above the mundane. The writing is more stylish than most novels of this genre, the social history that underpins it is well-researched and fascinating.