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March, 1984. Britain’s miners face political opposition. Soon, the State will confront them, violent forces will be unleashed and the country will change forever.
The Newmans have enough on their plate without a strike to contend with. Arthur hates working at the pit, his unhappy wife, Shell, doesn’t know what she wants and their lonely son Lawrence has no say in anything – especially a late night mission to Threndle House, home of disgraced politician Clive Swarsby and his two mysterious children. When Lawrence and Arthur take an abandoned rug from the house, their family is plunged into crisis. Then there is the small matter of the pickets . . .
Taking in controversial events such as the Battle of Orgreave, The Litten Path is an exceptional debut set against the sunless landscapes of a country now lost in time. Grimly honest and tender, tough and lyrical, comic and painful, it is about class friction, the clash between the urban and the rural. It is about what happens when a decision is made, when one cannot turn back.
‘Bristling and inventive, brilliant and important – an outstanding debut.’ —Joe Stretch
‘Clarke moves easily between the registers of class and entitlement, and poverty and disappointment. The landscape, of which he writes with relish, is raw and ever-changing. When his enthusiastic use of imagery works, it is lovely and apposite: a river “golden as chip fat”, a mouth “heady with lipstick”… A ferocious portrait of a time and place, The Litten Path is an uneven book but an important one.’ —Catherine Taylor, The Guardian
‘It is a big subject to tackle, but Manchester-based writer James Clarke, who was brought up in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, chose, in what some might say was a brave move, to make it the setting for his first novel, The Litten Path, published last month. But Clarke is well up to the challenge – it is an extremely impressive debut. Set in a south Yorkshire mining village over the period of the 1984-5 strike, it combines domestic drama with intelligent, nuanced documentary observation and a pacy, page-turning plot.’ —Yvette Huddleston, Yorkshire Post