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Precious Bane by Mary Webb

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Christina
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Precious Bane by Mary Webb

Post by Christina » Thu November 6th, 2008, 2:02 pm

I am sorry if this has already been written about - I am new here and have looked for it but cannot find it.. :)

The story, set in Shropshire, in the early years of the 19th century is so fascinating and moving on so many levels. Not only does it bear reference to the effects of the industrial and agricultural revolution on a rural community, but it also has the over-riding atmosphere of ancient mystical rites, superstitions and the cruelty to women accused of being witches.
The story of Pru Sarne, a gentle and kind girl, suffering from a facial disfigurement from birth, is so touching. Because of ther disfigurement, she is repeatedly told (in a 'kindly' way) that she will never marry and she accepts that until she meets a wonderful journeyman weaver with whom she falls in love.
The climax of the book combines both the horror of the way people could be accused of witchcraft, on no grounds other than an accusation taking hold, the cruelty with which people dealt with anyone who was different, and - to my mind - one of the most romantic and beautiful lines in all historical fiction, spoke so simply by the weaver. I would not like to give away the story for anyone who hasn't read it, but it is such a wonderful story with so many layers of meaning.

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diamondlil
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Post by diamondlil » Thu November 6th, 2008, 8:07 pm

I don't remember hearing about this one before.

Thanks for the review!
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Spitfire
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Post by Spitfire » Thu November 6th, 2008, 8:15 pm

Sounds like a great book! Another one to add to my TBR list! :)
Only the pure of heart can make good soup. - Beethoven

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Thu November 6th, 2008, 11:12 pm

It is a lovely book :-) . It takes some getting used to the dialect but the depths of it are lovely. If it comes at the end of a long line of 'TBR's, and you want a glimpse of it, it is completely available online here:
http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/etexts/E000112.htm

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Post by annis » Fri November 7th, 2008, 7:21 am

Thanks, Christina- this sounds really interesting. I see that it was first published in 1924, which might account for the fact that we haven't come across it, even though it appears to be something of a classic.

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Fri November 7th, 2008, 11:48 am

I read this book not long ago. I loved it once I got used to the colloquialisms. I thought it was poignant but written with some humour. The descriptions of the surrounding area, mere, wildlife and harvest were wonderful.
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Fri November 7th, 2008, 3:39 pm

[quote=""Vanessa""]I read this book not long ago. I loved it once I got used to the colloquialisms. I thought it was poignant but written with some humour. The descriptions of the surrounding area, mere, wildlife and harvest were wonderful.[/quote]

And didn't you just love the ending? :)

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Lady Macbeth
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Post by Lady Macbeth » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 6:33 am

I also loved this book and I think I settled into the dialect quite easily after a couple of pages. Pru is a gentle soul in deep contrast to her dangerously ambitious brother Gideon and I felt Sarn Mere was so beautifully described that it almost felt like another character.

Did you know that this is the novel that inspired Stella Gibbons parody Cold Comfort Farm?
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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
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Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 8:16 am

[quote=""Christina""]And didn't you just love the ending? :) [/quote]

I've only just seen this post! :o Yes, I did love the ending. :)
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Leo62
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Post by Leo62 » Sun August 2nd, 2009, 10:00 am

I love this book! I think it's lovely, and Stella Gibbons can go *&^% herself :D

Her other stuff is worth checking out too, if you can get hold of them: Gone To Earth (made into an hilariously OTT 40's movie with Jennifer Jones) and The House in Dormer Forest.

Virago reprinted a lot of her novels in the 80's - sadly they've gone out of print again now, but you can still get them fairly cheaply.

ETA: There was a BBC version of Precious Bane about 20 years ago, featuring a very young Clive Owen. Don't know if it's available anywhere...

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