It is 1847, northern England, and Charles Weightman has been given the unenviable task of overseeing the flooding of the Forge Valley and evicting its lingering inhabitants. Weightman is heartily resented by these locals, and he himself is increasingly unconvinced both of the wisdom of his appointment and of the integrity and motives of the company men who posted him there. He finds some solace, however, in his enigmatic neighbour, Mary Latimer. Caring for her mad sister, Mary is also an outsider, and a companionship develops between the two of them which offers them both some comfort and support in their mutual isolation.
As winter closes steadily in and as the waters begin to rise in the Forge Valley, it becomes increasingly evident that the man-made deluge cannot be avoided; not by the locals desperate to save their homes, nor by the reluctant agent of their destruction, Weightman himself.
In a masterful new novel, Edric captures powerful human emotions with grace and precision. The hauntingly resonant backdrop to this story of David and Goliath marks Edric's dramatic return to historical literary fiction.
Gathering the Water belongs with a group of his (Edric's) novels whose artistry and resonance constitute one of the most astonishing bodies of work to appear from a single author for a generation.
Gathering the Water is a small novel but one that packs a mighty punch. Stylistically it is superb .....above all though, it is in his marshalling of his themes that Edric proves himself such an accomplished novelist. At one level a book about loss and guilt, loyalty and ambition, madness and reality, Gathering the Water in fact ranges even further in its concerns, contrasting the immutability of nature with the similarly crushing immutability of money and business ........a power-packed, stunningly crafted novel.
Booker judges take note.
Gathering the Water is an admirably serious novel, written in prose as spare as its setting. Its lament for the death of the community is subtle and powerful.
A compelling story ......Robert Edric writes with a steady rhythm that, like the flow of the diverted dam waters, fills in a picture of horror and loss with a sustained and unrelenting force.