The coal gatherer by Janet Woods

  Regina  Review by:  Regina

Title:  The coal gatherer

Author:  Janet Woods

Collection:  Adult Fiction

Callie Ingram, one of the many living children of Mary and Ebeneezer, has higher hopes than to marry young, bear babies, and gather coal from the sea. She has watched her mother, once from a family of respectable shopkeepers, carry and then mourn the death of her babies and suffer the blows of her father. Befriending the local gentry opens the doors to another life that Callie can only imagine. Can Callie escape this impoverished and brutal life before Ebeneezer marries her off to cruel Sam Brown?

Being from coal country, the title pulled me in. I had never heard of coal being carted off from the sea and had to do a little research. Sea-coal is coal that has been washed up on the beach, coming from coal seams in sea cliffs or underwater deposits. For centuries this coal was collected and used for cooking, heating, and forging metals. It is probable that European cultures back to the Romans and before used sea-coal. In places where this coal occurred it could be a dependable source of fuel and there were professional sea-coal gatherers and small local industries existed to gather and sell the coal. This continued in many areas, particularly in northern Britain and parts of Scotland as other sources of fuel were expensive and more difficult to obtain.

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