I had never heard of this book until Lucy suggested it as a read for the inaugural meeting of the Bicester Booklings, and so I had little idea of what to expect from it.
It’s not the easiest book too get into though, I found, being written in the thick dialect of rural Shropshire. It is absolutely beautifully written though, and reminded me in many ways of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie. Unlike though with that book, Precious Bane takes its time to keep going and I had to really to force myself to keep going. The way that Mary Webb uses the characters surnames a lot in preference to their first names didn’t help me keep track of the story.
Persevere I did though and once I got half way it was a rollercoaster of white that I was fully engaged with. During the second half, whilst I had previously likened the story to Cider With Rosie, now I was finding it on a par with Halldór Laxness’ Independent as people for unrelenting depressiveness.
Precious Bane does at least have a happy ending and one that brings joy to your heart.