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. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In 1931 Carbon Hill, Alabama, a small 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, centered on helping anyone in need during the Great Depression, the apparent murder forces them to face the darker side of their community and understand the motivations of their family and their friends. Most townspeople have no money for a newspaper and backbreaking work keeps them busy from dawn until well after dusk. For parents, it is a time when a better life for your children one that involves clean fingernails and a desk likely means sacrificing health, time, and every penny that can be saved. For a miner, the thought that you might not make it home from work is as much a part of the morning as a cup of coffee. But next to those daily thoughts of death and hard work are the lingering pleasures of sweet tea, feather beds, and lightning bugs yet to be caught.
"A tight-knit miner's family struggles against poverty and racism in Phillips's evocative first novel, set in Depression-era Alabama. Throughout, she moves skillfully between the points of view of miner father Albert, hard-working mother Leta, young daughter Tess and teenage daughter Virgie, and small son Jack. They see men who are frequently incapacitated or killed by accidents in the local mines; neighbors live off what they can grow on their patch of land; and blacks like Albert's fellow miner and friend Jonah are segregated in another part of Carbon Hill and often hauled off to jail arbitrarily. When Tess witnesses a woman throwing a baby into their well, no one believes her until the dead child is found, and few are shocked. Tess, hounded by nightmares, and Virgie, on the cusp of womanhood and resistant to the thought of an early marriage to the local boys who court her, begin making inquiries of their own, visiting wives who've recently had babies and learning way more than they imagined. With a wisp of suspense, Phillips fully enters the lives of her honorable characters and brings them vibrantly to the page." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"When you close the book, you'll miss these characters. But The Well and the Mine doesn't just give you characters who'll stay with you it gives you a whole world." Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
"If you've been waiting for a new voice to rise from the South, here it is. Gin Phillips is the real thing. Her novel, The Well and the Mine, is a stunning triumph: haunting, lyrical, a portrait of the southern family, a story of the human predicament." Vicki Covington, author of Gathering Home and The Last Hotel for Women
"The Well and the Mine weaves the multiple voices of a Depression-era family into a tale that's both tragic and affirming. Gin Phillips evokes the coal-mining country of rural Alabama its poverty, racial tensions, and labor loyalties with startling vividness. Like a Gee's Bend quilter, Phillips stitches tradition, color, and necessity into every sentence of this superb first novel." Peter Donahue, author of Madison House,winner of the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction
About the Author
Gin Phillips is a freelance writer whose features have appeared in American Profile, American Spirit, Platinum, and Woman's World. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama. The Well and the Mine is her first novel.