The Coal Miner’s Wife (The Deerness Series)

Written by Elizabeth Gill
Review by Douglas Kemp

This is the second in the Deerness series, set in the industrial north-east of England. It is the turn of the century in the small cathedral city of Durham. Vinia is a spirited and intelligent lass, but against her better judgment agrees to marry Joe. Joe owns the local coal pit and is thus a man of comparative wealth and position. While Vinia knows she does not love him and doubts she ever can, the marriage brings her stability and the assurance of a good standard of living. Unfortunately, Vinia has always held a candle for the local ne’er-do-well, Dryden, and matters reach a crisis point when Dryden’s wife dies. He decides that he needs to make up for lost time and reignite the passion that he and Vinia hold for each other. Dryden is rather like a north-eastern Heathcliff in his emotions and irresistible passion, and while Vinia is no Catherine Linton, the regard they have for each other threatens all manner of problems for the main protagonists.

Elizabeth Gill’s fiction is easy to read and the plots zip along. This is not profound, literary fiction, but is eminently suitable to beguile an hour or so and the reader can enjoy the problems surrounding this love triangle, providing that you can suspend disbelief and just immerse yourself in the narrative.