BEN RETALLICK by E. V. Thompson
Kirkus Star


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A dandy ""prequel"" to Chase the Wind (1977)--which was about Josh Retallick and Cornish miners organizing in the mid-19th century. The hero here is Josh's father Ben, whose teenage misadventure in the mines (34 men die) forces the Retallicks to pull up stakes and set off for Megavissey village--where a try at a fishing career falls through when Ben is nearly arrested for smuggling. So Ben and father Pearson both go to work for Sir John Vincent's Happy Union Mine, a tin stream-mining works whose laborers are stirring for representation and parliamentary reform. And Ben falls in love with neighbor Jesse Henna, illegitimate granddaughter of Sir John Vincent--who is kind to the couple and warns Ben to avoid revolutionary politics. Meanwhile Ben's overseer, Reuben Holyoak, has his eye set on Jesse too. So things are tense, and when ailing Pearson hangs himself (to save his family years of nursing), tragic events start piling up: Sir John dies; the forthcoming Ben/Jesse marriage is nulled by Jesse's nasty father; Jesse is given to Reuben; raging Ben kills Reuben (or so he thinks) and flees the law, losing himself for two years in working in far-off mines. And so on--with a good strong mix of marital melodramas, political maneuverings, seductions, murders, and trials. All in all, a plain, unvarnished tale, full of homely horrors and vividly lifelike social history.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0751545473
Publisher: St. Martin's