by Glenn Patterson - £7.99 Faber and Faber (2013)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780571281855 | ISBN 10: 0571281850
In the cold dawn of Christmas Day 1897, Gilbert Rice, 85-years-old and in failing health, recounts his journey into manhood in a city on the cusp of great change.
Belfast in the 1830s was a city in flux. Industrialisation had led to an increase in population as workers flocked to the newly created jobs. Gilbert, a young man with prospects, begins work with the Ballast Office, supervising Belfast Port.
But in the course of his days - and nights - abroad in the town, Gilbert becomes aware of tensions old and new. When he meets Maria, a Polish exile from Russian persecution, he is drawn into a love affair that will drive him to an act that could change his life, and the town's, for ever.
The Mill for Grinding Old People Young is a brilliantly imaginative and moving historical novel. It evokes a vanished city that resonates powerfully with our contemporary anxieties.
(Price & availability last checked: September 2019)