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Review of "Ring of Clay" a novel by Margaret Kaine.
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel, 401 pages, published by Coronet books, ISBN 0340828234. Genre General Fiction, cover price £6.99.
Ring of Clay is set in the Pottery towns of Great Britain in the period from 1947 to the late 1960's. The plot follows the life of a young girl, Beth Sherwin and her family. Beth's father returns from war and struggles to return his family to normality. He resumes is work in the packing department of one of the large 'pot banks', the local name for the pottery workshops.
Ill health causes Harry Sherwin to seek alternative work out of doors and he takes a position as a post man, a job he enjoys and which takes him out of the stale, dust laden environment of the potteries. Sadly, he dies at a young age, leaving his wife and two children, Gordon and Beth to manage alone. Beth is a very bright girl and has won a scholarship to a private school. Her mother and brother both work every hour they can to ensure Beth can continue her education. Beth faces discrimination at school as most of the other pupils come from well heeled families . Beth is one of only a handful of working class girls at the school and as a result has to work doubly hard to keep her dignity as slurs and slights are commonplace from her classmates.
When Beth attains the position of head girl, this is s very proud moment for her family, but life takes a turn for the worse when Beth finds herself in a predicament which has no solution that she can see. A staunch Catholic. Beth throws herself on the mercy of Father O'Neill, the local priest. He comes up with a solution for Beth's problem, which although helps in the short term, leaves Beth with mental anguish that never really leaves her.
When Beth reaches adulthood, she goes to work as an assistant manager in the marketing department of one of the many potteries in her home town. Her hard work and intelligence soon get her noticed and her career goes from strength to strength. Beth forms a relationship with one of the sons of the pottery owner and her problems from the past return to haunt her, social prejudices and her personal past experiences all have to be overcome before any chance of contentment is hers.
I won't say more here for fear of spoiling the plot for future readers.
Ring of Clay is the first novel from Margaret Kaine. Margaret was born and brought up in Stoke on Trent, in the heart of the area known as 'The Potteries'. She came to writing quite late in life following a career as a lecturer in secretarial subjects. Prior to writing her first novel, Ring of Clay, Margaret had short stories published in various women's magazines.
She was married at the age of 21 and has two grown up children and a grand daughter and grandson. She still lives in the Midlands area that she writes about so knowledgeably.
More information on the author and her work can be found on her website www.margaretkaine.com
This was the source for my research for information about the author.
Ring of Clay can be purchased from www.amazon.co.uk for £5.49 new or from 0.01p used.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
At first glance, Ring of Clay seems to be the usual female fiction, 'poor girl tries hard to better herself', a tried and trusted formula. However, on getting 'into' the book, it really is far more than that! The author has captured the essence of life for working class people in England in the years after the second world war and has explored the social discrimination many working class people encountered. Her richly described scenes of living at poverty levels versus the lifestyle of luxury and opulence enjoyed by the upper classes of the time, are remarkable. When added to an interesting plot with very well drawn, believable characters this makes for an excellent piece of fiction.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and have re read it several times.
I would recommend this novel to others.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 August 2009
NB My reviews can be found on other review sites under the same name, brittle1906.