Young love confronts the juggernaut of History as two miner's children, caught up in the birth struggles of the trade union movement among Cornish copper miners in the 1840s, must choose between their passion and their dedication to the cause. Determined not to follow his friends to early death in the mines, Josh Retallick gets an education from radical Preacher Thackeray and secures an engineering apprenticeship in a distant foundry. Childhood sweetheart Miriam Trago, ""as wild and untamed as the moor itself,"" vows to wait for him. But pregnancy and the lynching of her father send Miriam into the marriage bed of Preacher Thackeray, and Josh sorrowfully weds spoiled, rich Sarah. His return to the mines with ideas for man-lifts, air-pumps and such catapults him to the head of the Union movement, and his popularity angers Thackeray, whose idealism masks a lust for power and resentment that Josh is father of Miriam's child. Union agitation, rebellions against the hated Corn Laws, brutal suppression by the Militia, Sarah's insanity and suicide, and foul betrayal by Thackeray follow as the situation spirals out of control, landing Josh in jail, convicted of treason, condemned to transportation to Australia for life. But of course a love like Josh and Miriam's isn't so easily destroyed, especially when there's a new world waiting. Thompson's debut is earnest, unadorned, and solidly crafted, capturing the tempers, the turbid politics, and the milieu--from damp candlelit mines to the windy, boggy moors.