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The Well and the Mineby Gin Phillips
Set in Depression-era, small-town Alabama, this novel opens with a baby being tossed into a well. Don't let the gruesome beginning stop you from savoring this compelling, beautifully written book; the beginning really does have an important purpose. This poignant, slice-of-life tale is really about poverty, racial tensions, labor conditions, and the ties of family. Gin Phillips has an excellent ear for dialect and an absolutely tactile feel for setting.
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A novel of warmth and true feeling, The Well and the Mine explores the value of community, charity, family, and hope that we can give each other during a time of hardship.
In a small Alabama coal-mining town during the summer of 1931, nine-year-old Tess Moore sits on her back porch and watches a woman toss a baby into her family’s well without a word. This shocking act of violence sets in motion a chain of events that forces Tess and her older sister Virgie to look beyond their own door and learn the value of kindness and lending a helping hand. As Tess and Virgie try to solve the mystery of the well, an accident puts their seven-year-old brother’s life in danger, forcing the Moore family to come to a new understanding of the power of love and compassion.
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In 1931 Carbon Hill, a small Alabama coal-mining town, nine-year-old Tess Moore watches a woman shove the cover off the family well and toss in a baby without a word. For the Moore family, focused on helping anyone in need during the Great Depression, the apparent murder forces them to face the darker side of their community and question the motivations of family and friends. Backbreaking work keeps most of the townspeople busy from dawn to dusk, and racial tensions abound. For parents, it's a time when a better life for the children means sacrificing health, time, and every penny that can be saved. For a miner, returning home after work is a possibility, not a certainty. However, next to daily thoughts of death, exhausting work, and race are the lingering pleasures of sweet tea, feather beds, and lightning bugs yet to be caught.
When Ren was twelve years old, she lost her older brother to a car accident. For twenty-five years he’s been a presence in her life, appearing with a song or a reflection in the moonlight. Her connection to the ghosts around her has made her especially sensitive as an archaeologist, understanding the bare outline of our ancestors, recreating lives and stories, and breathing life into those who occupied this world long before us. On the cusp of the most important find of her career, it is the ghosts who are guiding her way. But what they have to tell Ren about herself, and her developing relationship with the first man to really know her since her brother’s death, is unexpected—a discovery about the relationship between the past and the future, and the importance of living in the moment.
About the Author
Gin Phillips lives in Birmingham, Alabama. The Well and the Mine is her first novel.
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