Gathering the Water by Robert Edric - review by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart

Flooding the Valley

Gathering the Water

By

Doubleday 250pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

This is the sixteenth novel from the critically acclaimed Robert Edric, a novelist who has never quite made it into the lists of prize-winners and big names. Gathering the Water marks a return to the type of novel for which he is best known: the literary-historical type. Set in the last months of 1848, it concerns the grandiose plan to flood the Forge Valley in Yorkshire, creating a new dam and reservoir. Along with this creation will go, necessarily, the destruction of an ancient village and the eviction of its sullen, almost medieval inhabitants. It is a place of ‘thirty smoking chimneys – signifying what? A hundred, two hundred people.’

This laconic, apparently passionless narrator is Charles Weightman, surveyor and overseer of the new dam, stationed in the Forge Valley in its last, bleak, dying days, and gradually coming to know its inhabitants. Or not, as the case may be. The most mysterious, and in some ways most attractive and

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