Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: Jim Bayliss

King Coal

Pages: 216 Ratings: 5.0
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Queen Victoria is on the throne when a young lad loses his father to the deadly black lung disease and a young farmer loses his family to influenza. The two are destined to meet with long lasting consequences for young Ephraim who now has to live with his uncle, a coal merchant in Newport. Chance and ambition allow Ephraim to begin to build what will become a business empire. When his wife dies, a disillusioned Ephraim takes a sabbatical and a passionate affair with the daughter of his agent in Recife leads to a new chapter in his life. He passes his empire to his family who introduce the import of frozen food from the antipodes and build their first refrigerated cargo ship, Takapuna Princess.

During a career in the Merchant Navy as a young man, followed by a stint in the building industry, he studied electronics and eventually spent much of his time working ashore in this field. An artist and music lover, working in his home in the rural county of Dorset, this is his first novel.

Customer Reviews
5.0
1 reviews
1 reviews
  • Nicholas O'Dwyer

    I enjoyed the multi-generational and epic sweep of the book and I was extremely impressed with the depth of knowledge you had brought to it - about coal routes, cargo ship structure, navigation, sea commerce, Brazil - which I’m guessing you have mined from your previous lives.
    I also liked the fact that the book didn’t wander into a How Green Was My Valley idealisation of the past - it’s realistic about the harshness and poverty of the lives of miners in the 1800s and the realities of life in societies without modern medicine or the NHS. There’s a lot of deaths in there which continue through the generations - deaths in childbirth, mining accidents, industrial disease and deaths from epidemics - and we need only wander round an old graveyard to see how true that picture is. I was struck by the relatively stoic acceptance (Tom excepted) of this by the main figures in the book - death was very much a part of their lives wasn’t it.
    I also liked the smaller details - the fact that after losing two children in the mine, Sarah would also lose her home.
    So well done you, Jim: it’s very impressive, you can plainly write well.

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