Cast your mind back to the 1970s when Britain still had a coal industry
and Margaret Thatcher had yet to do her worst. The Price of Coal by Barry Hines brings the
Yorkshire miners' existence vividly to life in a novel by turns tough, humorous and chilling.
Centred around the daily grind at Milton colliery, a visit by the Prince of Wales provides
the opportunity for well-aimed swipes at middle-management as they grass over the slag heaps,
whitewash the blackened walls and put soft soap in the toilets. But when disaster strikes,
Hines brings the reader face-to-face with the horror.
On its original publication, The Price of Coal was rightly lauded by New Statesman as "a
rare novel that stands out" and it has lost none of its stark power. Adapted for television
as two linked plays, directed by Ken Loach as part of the much-missed Play For Today strand,
the novel ranks alongside Hines' uncompromising classic A Kestrel for a Knave.
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