The village is called Mount of Zeal. It's built in a bowl like an amphitheatre, with the winding gear where the stage would be. The pit lies below. Ted Howker's school is on the edge of Lower Terrace next to the chapel. Upper Terrace - in a thunderous echo of the Bible so loved by Ted's grandfather - is Paradise. Ted and his father and his brothers live in Middle. In the beginning: a household of men, all of whom work in the pit...Susan Hill is an exceptional writer at the height of her powers. Every word is precisely right: the descriptions of the village and the pit, the people and the farm are exact and true; the heartbreak is inevitable yet new; and the imagery and imagination take your breath away.
"This is a story of people living hard lives, narrow lives which nevertheless have their own dignity. It is beautifully, even lovingly, told, with not a superfluous word... Characters are sketched in a couple of sentences, and fixed in your imagination. Manner is perfectly matched with matter; it's impossible to suppose that the story could be better told" -- Alan Massie Scotsman "A perfectly judged story of people living hard, narrow lives" Observer "A very slender novella, but one in which Susan Hill deploys her not inconsiderable power to weave a haunting story" -- Victoria Moore Daily Mail "Hill's beautiful, soulful descriptions of pit village life make this every bit as gripping as her longer spine-chilling stories" Sunday Mirror "In this taught, tense story, written with that unsparing economy which is such a feature of Hill's recent fiction, everyone longs to escape... Ted is thoughtful, compassionate, loving and misguidedly chivalrous... The sparseness of Hill's style provides the perfect medium for exploring his predicament" East Anglian Daily Times
Susan Hill has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won awards and prizes including the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Somerset Maugham; and have been shortlisted for the Booker. Her novels include Strange Meeting, I'm the King of the Castle and A Kind Man; and she has also published autobiographical works and collections of short stories. The play of her ghost story The Woman in Black has been running in London's West End since 1988 and was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Honours. She is married with two adult daughters and lives in North Norfolk.