"What lines would you cross for the ones you love?
Miner’s wife Mandy is stuck in a rut. At twenty-three, and trapped by domesticity, her future looks set and she wants more from life. Husband Rob is a good-looking drinker, content to spend his days in the small town where they’ve always lived – where Mandy can’t do anything other than bake cakes and raise her children.
When Mandy’s childhood friend – beautiful, clever Ruth – and Ruth’s Falklands war hero husband, Dan, return to town, their homecoming is shrouded in mystery. Like in their schooldays, Mandy looks to Ruth for inspiration – but Ruth isn’t all she appears.
As conflict with the Coal Board turns into war, the men come out on strike. The community and its whole way of life is threatened. Mandy abandons her dreams of liberation from the kitchen sink and joins a support group. As the strike rumbles on, relationships are pushed to the brink, and Mandy finds out just who she is – and who her true friends are."
I read (and enjoyed) Laura's first book a few years ago, and so thank you to Laura for offering me the chance to review her latest novel which was released by Accent Press on 9 March 2014.
As the name suggests, the book follows Mandy as her family and friends struggle to cope during the miners' strike of 1984 to 1985. Mass walk-outs and strikes took place following Thatcher's long term plan of mine closures was announced. However, the book also focuses on Mandy's private battle - as a mother of four young children, with a husband who drinks heavily, she turns to her best friend who has just returned to the village.
Wilkinson really captures the sense of community that existed during those difficult times, and the story follows Mandy as her confidence grows as she becomes more heavily involved in the public protests against the government. However, this puts a different kind of strain on her private life, and it's only a matter of time before things begin to unravel in a way Mandy never imagined.
Whilst the miners' strikes sets the background for Mandy's story, it isn't overwhelming and allows the characters to shine.
Told thirty years on, Public Battles, Private Wars captures the unstable time from the miners' wives perspective and illustrates the impetus for change which radically altered so many people's lives.
If you'd like to read more about the women of the miners' strike, a recent article in the guardian describes some of the moments that you will see captured by Wilkinson in her latest book - you can read the Guardian article here.