We’ve received a number of reader reviews and comments about The Miner & the Viscount. Here is a selection of recent submissions:
“Tam Kernewek”, the newsletter of the Cornish American Heritage Society
For anyone looking to read a Cornish novel, “The Miner and the Viscount” by Richard Hoskin is a good way to go. It is set in an area of Cornwall which will be familiar to most of you who have Cornish roots or have travelled in Cornwall.
Set in mining regions from Redruth to Port Eliot, it tells the story of a mining family and two upper class landowners with opposing ideas of social values in the 18th century.
Mr. Hoskin has done a fine job of research and has written a page turner!
The Historical Novel Society
The wild and beautiful landscape of the Cornish coast and countryside forms the backdrop for Hoskin’s long and engrossing novel set in 18th-Century Cornwall, where the lives of two fictional Cornish families, the Penwardens and the Trenances, intertwine with the lives of two of the region’s most powerful and influential families, the Eliots and the Pitts (from whom sprang both William Pitt, the Elder and the Younger). “Real life was right here in Cornwall,” a character thinks early on in the story.
Hoskin excels at connecting his local events to great swaths of broader English history as social and technological upheavals strain the fabric of what had been an intensely traditional area. “I don’t need to meet a mine captain!” scoffs one of Hoskin’s well-drawn noble-born characters as the plot gains momentum, “Viscounts don’t mix with riffraff.”
As the Pitt family rises to national prominence, it becomes harder and harder for the old guard to maintain such separations, and since Hoskin portrays all of his characters, high-born and low-born (among the latter especially outspoken Addis Penwarden, the book’s standout figure), with very believable humanity, a whole period of history with which his readers may not be familiar comes intensely to life.
This is a deeply rewarding and fascinating book, fit to stand beside the great Cornish novels of Winston Graham and Daphne du Maurier. Recommended.
Amazing comment from Cornish poet and story teller!
I’ve read many ‘Cornish’ novels. Many simply use the landscape as a hand-painted backcloth to a little drama, some, like Daphne du Maurier, project a mystique and occasionally deploy some Cornish ‘extras’. Occasionally one comes along which is written from ‘within’ which embraces elements of Cornish story telling, evokes the Cornish morality, captures the contrasts and the divides and the ultimate unity which geography dictates. Du Maurier’s Rule Britannia comes to mind, or the stories of Ann Treneer, the stories of Lee and Tregellas, Crosbie Garstin’s ‘Penhale’ Trilogy, Q, Simon Parker, Martin Philp, Jane Nancarrow and Richard Hoskin.
I think you’ve cracked it and managed your material into a very large story – and one that promises much – you’ve got the technique, the tale and the overview of an editor (I guess that came from days in The Cornish Times).
Book Signing at Joseph-Beth
A lively and engaged audience asked so many interesting questions at my presentation. How does one become a viscount? Where did you come up with the story of the miners under the storm sea? How long did it take to write the book? Will there be a sequel? How soon will it come out? What inspired your characters? Did you meet the descendants of the historical characters? See a video clip at http://bit.ly/1v4lOHL
The Historical Novel Society
A wonderful review from the connoisseurs of the genre. An extract: “Hoskin excels at connecting his local events to great swaths of broader English history as social and technological upheavals strain the fabric of what had been an intensely traditional area. This is a deeply rewarding and fascinating book, fit to stand beside the great Cornish novels of Winston Graham and Daphne du Maurier. Recommended.”
Visit http://bit.ly/1wpYjN4 for the full insightful review.
Sig Lonegren, SunnyBank Centre, 9 BoveTown, Glastonbury, Somerset, UK
While this is a work of fiction about life in Cornwall in the last half of the eighteenth century, it is about the relationship between peasant workers and the landed gentry and the impact of the beginning of the industrial revolution. Along the way, there are numerous historical events woven in to give an accurate picture of those times. There is enough pre-historical information given to interest to give Earth Mystery fans some food for thought. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Go to http://www.geomancy.org/ to learn about Sig’s work as a dowser and geomancer. He and his wife Karen spend summers in Greensboro, VT
Bert Biscoe, Truro, Cornwall. Cornish Council, Bard of the Gorsedh
I have read The Miner and the Viscount from cover to cover. It is an exceptional piece of work – you have managed a large cast and layers of plot with great skill – at no point did I feel that things were happening which I didn’t understand either in the context of the narrative, or in relation to the historical picture you paint. In terms of organisation, clarity and structure it is a really good book.
You also have a pacey narrative style which captures the attention and draws the reader into the book. I did not feel that I was needing to push myself to complete a chore – it kept me entertained, alert and engaged – very few, if any, skipped pages (other than a bit about Joshua Reynold’s racey feminist pals and edificashun).
You have done a magnificent job in proof reading and your editor has worked extremely well to achieve pace, narrative cohesion and well-timed action. Balancing one strand of plot and characters against another is a job requiring artistic timing, and it is the achievement of the book that, at no time did I feel any discomfort about juxtaposition, interplay between plot lines, geography or, importantly, the emotional development of characters and events. I particularly liked the way the Viscountess developed as we went through, maturing and developing confidence – this not only helped to convey the passage of time (without saying ‘Twenty years later’!!!) but drew one towards different characters as the drama unfolded.
My few quibbles are niggling when seen in the context of the way in which you have marshalled historical narrative, a dramatic cast of fictional characters (you have fleshed out the ‘factual’ characters as part of the overall cast), portrayed society realistically, demonstrated the profound change that came over Cornwall when the turnpikes revolutionised accessibility, and illustrated the very clear division between Whig and Tory – the great social debate of that time.
So, I think it is a major work in the Cornish canon –
Dr. Jill Waterhouse, Historian, Canberra, Australia
I was truly delighted to receive a copy (of the book). When it arrived, I was immediately taken by the splendid cover and, of course, by your own photo on the back which shows a fit and vigorous author! I am very impressed by the way you have immersed yourself in Kernewek and used it in a way that truly enhances and does not distract. It was a formidable task to deal with such a range of characters in their differing social settings. You certainly taught me much about the Pitt lineage, just as you did in the beginning with your account of St Piran. The clever device of the webbed toes keeps the story moving along well, and I was much taken with the travails and successes of Catherine and Mary. The landscape of Cornwall comes alive under your pen. I know much more about such things as pyramid cuts. I am amazed that it only took you five years to write this story, even if it may have been bubbling away for longer. I must say, too, that it has been beautifully proofread.
Susan H., Author, descendant of the Hornblower family, builders of Thomas Newcomen and James Watt steam engines
I did get a chance to start on Miner & Viscount yesterday—only two chapters, but what joy! I’ve read so much history on Cornwall and mining and realize there is nothing like a good historical novel to put life into all the factual information.
The Miner and The Viscount is a wonderful tour de force by a very talented author and historian – Richard Hoskin. From the Houses of Parliament to the depths of the Cornwall mines; from the privileged homes of the rich and mighty to the hovels of the poor and oppressed; from the cruel and uncaring aristos to the socially minded benefactors; Hoskin catches it all and presents it to us in a style and structure that carries us along through the onrush of social and political change. No dry historical tome, this! The characters are beautifully and realistically drawn and the settings are vivid and realistic. In a universe of historical novels, this one truly stands head and shoulders above. An excellent read.
Peter Eliot, New South Wales
Richard Hoskin’s sweeping story is a treat for the lover of English history, and a very special personal treat for me. In 1965 I emigrated from England to Australia, discovered a relative who had constructed a genealogy of our Eliot family connections in Cornwall, and developed a fascination with researching the people and places of my ancestry. This culminated in going to the village of St. Germans in Cornwall, visiting Port Eliot, and meeting with my distant cousin Peregrine Eliot, the Earl of St. Germans. I was delighted to share my materials with Richard and to see how he has drawn on them with descriptions of the house that was formerly a priory, the great park, and the church that was once the cathedral of Cornwall. It is intriguing to see how he has woven the local history of Cornwall into the history of England, and more than that to enjoy the gripping story he has told and the parts Eliots played. Richard, now it’s your turn to do something for me. Sink a pint of bitter and eat a pasty at The Eliot Arms next time you’re in St. Germans!
Mr. and Mrs. A.D.G. Fortescue
Richard Hoskin has surpassed the challenge of writing an historical novel that interlaces meticulously researched history with a compelling story. We are delighted to read of the leading roles of the Pitt family at Boconnoc. We have devoted decades to restoring this great house to its former glory and it is gratifying to read of the historic part it played. Richard’s descriptions of the house and its occupants are so vivid – they should tempt a filmmaker!
Maureen Fuller, Grand Bard of Cornwall
As I travel visiting Bards of the Cornish Gorsedh all over the world, I know how much they love the story of Cornwall. The Miner & the Viscount tells of the great role Cornish people, miners and mariners, played in the eighteenth century. This book will be a best seller around the world! I am delighted to have helped in telling parts of the story in Kernewek, our ancient Cornish language.
Paul Holden, National Trust, Cornwall
This book is an amazing testimony to tenaciousness. Like a fine wine it has matured with age, benefiting from copious research and many first-hand visits to Cornwall which have resulted in an accuracy that can only come from experience. The author must also be congratulated on his meticulous and engaging approach to story telling and his natural ability to embrace the people and places of eighteenth-century Cornwall. I swear you can hear the sea lashing against the harbour wall as I read.
Tom Luke, Bard of the Gorsedh (Colon Hag Enef yn Bendygo), Past President Cornish Association of Victoria, Australia
One thing we Aussies know is where to dig for precious metals, and for sure there is gold in your novel! We love stories of our homeland, its history and culture and the enterprising Cornish people. Come and join us here in Bendigo, which we believe is the largest city of Cornish descendants in the world. When Gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851 miners from South Australia walked overland to the diggings and as the largest ethnic group in the copper mines of South Australia it goes without saying they formed by far the majority on the alluvial diggings. When in Bendigo alluvial digging gave way to quartz deep reef mining in 1870 where better to look to than Cornwall with its miners expert in hard rock mining and steam winding-machinery. They flocked to Victoria and particularly Bendigo in their thousands. They became more than miners in their adopted homeland and over 200 were mining managers. 13 of the former Mayors of Bendigo were Cornishmen and their descendants and 9 members of Australia’s first Parliament were Cornish. We have never forgotten the homeland and support it wherever possible in fact the Worlds largest Cornish Festival (Kernewek Lowender) is held every two years on the Copper Coast of South Australia. Kernow Bys Vykken!
Margaret McEwan, Scriptwriter, Cape Town, South Africa
The Cornish, my fellow Celts, take just pride in being pioneers in the development of South Africa. It’s their skill in hard rock mining that made profitable diamonds in Kimberly, gold in Johannesburg and Witwatersrand, and copper in O’okiep. They’ve made their mark – names, pasties, saffron cake, and rugby football! I loved Richard Hoskin’s historical novel and learned much about Cornish achievement at home and abroad. It’s a sweeping story about fascinating characters in a beautiful place – it should be made into a movie!
Barry Raut, Author, Creative Writing Teacher (University of Cincinnati OLLI Division)
I’m not a history scholar, but as a teacher of creative writing and an author of historical fiction I know great work when I see it; Richard Hoskin’s The Miner and & the Viscount is great work. Richard’s love of words, his Flaubert-like obsession with le mot juste, his writer’s gift for the music of language and, above all, his passion for his boyhood home of Cornwall guarantee the reader a riveting armchair adventure of epic proportions—a genuine “fly on the wall” experience for savoring with a glass of sherry by the fire.
Tom Rusch, Past President, Cornish American Heritage Society
Richard Hoskin’s historical novel is not only a grand yarn but a heart warming resource for Cousin Jacks and Jennys scattered around the world who yearn to know about “home” and where their families came from. His descriptions of the beautiful scenery (seaside cliffs, remote moors, mine buildings, ancient churches, country lanes, great houses) will inspire us all to visit our heritage. My pride in being Cornish swells at the stories of the historic world-wide leadership of my ruggedly independent people.