The Last Ballad

Helen Cannam, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-312-06388-7
British author Cannam's seemingly interminable second novel (after A High and Lonely Road ) alternates a flowery, effusive prose style with didactic descriptions of lead mining in 19th-century England. Young Jenny Emerson has a bleak life. Having lost her fiance in a mining accident, she now must care for her terminally ill father and her two brothers, all workers at the Weardale lead mines, owned by wealthy, corrupt gentry and church officials. The arrival of aristocratic, idealistic curate Rev. Edward Selby seems to offer Jenny a means of escape from Weardale. With dramatic suddenness the two become engaged; Jenny tries to adopt Selby's social pretensions while finding herself increasingly at odds with him during a mineworkers' strike. Salvation for Jenny appears in another abrupt plot twist, as Rowland Peart, the village rabble-rouser turned evangelist, helps Jenny balance her conflicting loyalties. Insights into the conditions of miners' lives are not enough to hold readers to this trite romance. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Hardcover - 497 pages - 978-0-7505-0697-7
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