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The year is 1889. When a fire tears through the Mauricewood coal pit there is no escape. Of sixty-five men working, only two survive. Many of the bodies will not be recovered for months.
Martha and her sister have lived with their granny since their mother died, but she is not kind. The death of their father in the Disaster means an end to any chance of a better life. For Martha’s stepmother, Jess, the wait for a body to bury, and the struggle to deal with a loss that is both collective and private, is agonizing.
Martha and Jess’s stories lie at the heart of this elegy to the close-knit communities of the pit villages in a gripping tribute to resilience and courage in the face of utter catastrophe, based on true events, original source material and Alexander’s own family history.
'A beautifully written book, affecting and elegiac, by a novelist who is also a poet. It is at once desperately sad and painful, uplifting and life-affirming. What saves the lives of the characters, as much as mere physical sustenance, is telling stories, both those they tell themselves consciously and those that visit them unbidden. And the book itself is a testament to the power of storytelling. It takes a long gone, largely forgotten historical event and brings it to life again.' Alison Miller, author of Demo
'...a story that is as much a testament to human kindness as it is a powerful insight into the staggering devastation of so much loss.' Rowena McIntosh, The List
'This is an engrossing story about a vital piece of social history. If that sounds dull, be assured that Alexander's finely wrought characters are anything but. Martha and Jess sparkle among the poverty and coal dust, their voices ringing out down the years that have seen too many people lost in industrial disasters. It is an important tale, beautifully told, and deserves to be better known.' The National
The Mauricewood Devils is available from Freight Books
The Jacobean Building| 49 Virginia Street| Glasgow| G1 1TS
T: 0141 552 5303 | W: freightbooks.co.uk
Saltire Scottish Publisher of the Year 2015
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