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Novel set in early 20th Century RYHOPE, Sunderland

1st July 2020

Pearl of Pit Lane by Glenda Young, novel set in early 20th Century Ryhope, Sunderland.

Check out our author interview via Zoom, below.

Novel set in early 20th Century Ryhope, Sunderland

Pearl Edwards is living in reduced circumstances with her aunt Annie, her mother’s sister. Her mother died when she was younger and she has no knowledge of her father. Her aunt, however, has to make ends meet by wearing a small red feather in her black hat, which shows that she is offering herself to any customer who wants to avail himself of her services. When the landlord turns the screws, Annie has no recourse but to encourage her niece into the same profession. They cannot even afford to feed Pearl’s little dog, Boot, and so he is sold off as a ratter, to a local farm.

Solace to date has been found in Pearl’s friendship with Joey, to whom she offers her job, as she has another job lined up but her luck is running out. Her new job is no longer an option.

Pearl, after agreeing to Annie’s proposal, has various difficult encounters and resolves to escape this sordid life and make an attempt to make a new life for herself. She arrives at Watsons, a grocery store and is offered work and accommodation. Soon she is falling for Billy, the son of family, and her feelings are reciprocated but his harridan and social climbing mother, Renee, determines he should marry the daughter of the local doctor. He is a little wimpish and goes along with her wishes, although his heart strings are firmly attached to Pearl.

A little local gossip goes a long way and soon Pearl is out on her ear. Misunderstandings abound, stoked by Renee. Once again Pearl has to decide her next steps.

This is very much a story about the plight of women, just after WW1 and describes life in a typical north eastern pit village. I have visited Beamish Open Air Museum (a must visit for anyone visiting North East England), which tells the story of local life in the 1820s and early 20th Century, and I could thus really imagine the setting of the book. Pearl is also busy working on clippy mats, a traditional way to create floor coverings. There are twists and turns and it is a nicely constructed story for readers who like determined womenfolk and passion and romance in their reading.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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