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Stirling, Jessica

family trilogy set story

(British, 1935– )

Hugh Crawford Rae has written under several names, but as Jessica Stirling he writes very popular historical family stories. Begin with the Stalker trilogy, of which the first is The Spoiled Earth (1974), set in a Lanarkshire pit village in 1875. An underground explosion kills a shift of 118 men, and the story traces the subsequent lives of their families (in particular, the Stalkers), and of the wealthy mine-owner. The physical detail of the period is conjured vividly and accurately. Other sequences include a trilogy about the Beckman family; the first novel, The Deep Well at Noon (1979) is set in London in 1918 and follows Holly Beckman's life after she has been bequeathed a share in the antique shop where she works—to the rage of her employer's children. Prized Possessions (1998) is the story of an indomitable family of women in Glasgow in the Depression.

Susan Howatch, Beverley Hughesden, Norah Lofts  JR

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