The village is called Mount of Zeal. It's built in a bowl like an amphitheatre, with the winding gear where the stage would be. The pit lies below.
Ted Howker's school is on the edge of Lower Terrace next to the chapel. Upper Terrace – in a thunderous echo of the Bible so loved by Ted's grandfather – is Paradise. Ted and his father and his brothers live in Middle. In the beginning: a household of men, all of whom work in the pit...
The reader follows Ted as he reaches for Paradise, and his sister Rose as she seeks personal happiness below. And in the end it is the women who, sadly, inherit the earth.
Susan Hill is an exceptional writer at the height of her powers. Every word is precisely right: the descriptions of the village and the pit, the people and the farm are exact and true; the heartbreak is inevitable yet new; and the imagery and imagination take your breath away.