The Well and the Mine

( 78 )

Overview

A novel of warmth and true feeling, The Well and the Mine explores the value of community, charity, family, and hope that we can give each other during a time of hardship.

In a small Alabama coal-mining town during the summer of 1931, nine-year-old Tess Moore sits on her back porch and watches a woman toss a baby into her family’s well without a word. This shocking act of violence sets in motion a chain of events that forces Tess and her older sister Virgie to look beyond their ...

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Overview

A novel of warmth and true feeling, The Well and the Mine explores the value of community, charity, family, and hope that we can give each other during a time of hardship.

In a small Alabama coal-mining town during the summer of 1931, nine-year-old Tess Moore sits on her back porch and watches a woman toss a baby into her family’s well without a word. This shocking act of violence sets in motion a chain of events that forces Tess and her older sister Virgie to look beyond their own door and learn the value of kindness and lending a helping hand. As Tess and Virgie try to solve the mystery of the well, an accident puts their seven-year-old brother’s life in danger, forcing the Moore family to come to a new understanding of the power of love and compassion.

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    The Well and the Mine  

Editorial Reviews

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"After she threw the baby in, nobody believed me for the longest time. But I kept hearing the splash." So begins The Well and the Mine, a magnificent debut novel set in 1930s Alabama. The place is Carbon Hill, a small coal-mining community, in the midst of the Depression. The Moore family, a loving brood of five, is better off than most, generous to their less fortunate neighbors. But darkness arrives at their doorstep when a mysterious woman throws a baby down the Moores' well, and the story slowly unfolds, through the alternating voices of nine-year-old Tess (who witnessed the crime); her older sister, Virgie; her brother, Jack; and her parents, Albert and Leta.

The mystery of the baby and why the Moores' well was the chosen location for its disposal is the catalyst of this intimate novel -- the splash whose ripples widen to reveal a community divided by race and class. The revelation of this shadowy side of life in Carbon Hill is leavened by the awakening conscience of a family that survives adversity with pluck and determination. In her first novel, Phillips has found beauty, depth, and the promise of salvation in one strong Southern clan. (Summer 2008 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

A tight-knit miner's family struggles against poverty and racism in Phillips's evocative first novel, set in Depression-era Alabama. Throughout, she moves skillfully between the points of view of miner father Albert, hard-working mother Leta, young daughter Tess and teenage daughter Virgie, and small son Jack. They see men who are frequently incapacitated or killed by accidents in the local mines; neighbors live off what they can grow on their patch of land; and blacks like Albert's fellow miner and friend Jonah are segregated in another part of Carbon Hill-and often hauled off to jail arbitrarily. When Tess witnesses a woman throwing a baby into their well, no one believes her until the dead child is found, and few are shocked. Tess, hounded by nightmares, and Virgie, on the cusp of womanhood and resistant to the thought of an early marriage to the local boys who court her, begin making inquiries of their own, visiting wives who've recently had babies and learning way more than they imagined. With a wisp of suspense, Phillips fully enters the lives of her honorable characters and brings them vibrantly to the page. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594484490
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/8/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 308,866
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.05 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Gin Phillips

Gin Phillips lives in Birmingham, Alabama. The Well and the Mine is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 78 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2008

    Terrific Debut Novel

    Gin Phillips deserves every ounce of attention she receives for The Well and the Mine. This is a breathtaking first novel. Phillips paces the story in perfect rhythm with the lives of these deceivingly simple characters. Her research into the everyday details of 1931 rural Alabama is matched only by her deft craftsmanship and pitch-perfect voices. The plot here (which is very compelling) moves at the pace of the river, slowly unraveling each member of this vividly rendered family into fully realized human beings, wrought with their own loves and hopes and worries and fears. We face heightened racism, poverty, and suspicion in Carbon Hill, Alabama, but we also witness the irresistible goodness of a devoted family holding each day to a standard long lost in modern culture. Late in the novel, the youngest child in the Moore family says, â¿¿Iâ¿¿d listened to Pop good enough to make his story mine.â¿ Phillips has listened well, very well, and while her story navigates a gulf of southern traditions, this gorgeously complicated novel is entirely her own.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    Superb Debut Southern Novel

    It's no wonder this book is getting huge buzz--it's a fantastic read that would appeal to anyone who loves Southern literature from the work of Fannie Flagg to Flannery O'Connor's from Anne Rivers Siddon's books to William Faulkner novels. Really, this book appeals to anyone who loves a good story, rendered well. Phillips writing is somehow simultaneously fluid and hard-edged, and she knows her characters well enough to make their lives feel real to readers. This is one of the best books I've read in 2008. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    WOW.

    Most amazing book Ive ever read! Ive probably read this around 15 times now, honestly. Favorite book growing up, too. The charecters are so REALISTIC AND LURING.
    WORD OF ADVICE: GET THE BOOK.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    Not Very good :/

    I thought that this was an OK book. Not really that great. The ending was pretty lame, and the book kept straying off-topic. Also, the switching from character to character got a little confusing from time to time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The What and the Who?

    I did not care for this book. After I finished reading it, I thought Ok, that was lame.
    It was not thrilling, or dramatic or even really interesting. I was hoping it would get better but it stayed slow and dry.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2013

    I don't know why anyone wouldn't give this book a 5-star rating!

    I don't know why anyone wouldn't give this book a 5-star rating! The writing is fascinating and I love it that she wrote it in different perspectives of each character involved, especially the little girls persepective. Phillips carefully thought out this novel. The depiction of life during the depression years and in a mining town in the south is unique. When you think of miners, you think of West Virginia, so this book gives a unique look at values and subjects uncomfortable to talk about, that were/are prevalent in the south, not to mention how it was to be poor in the south. Living near this area in the north half of Alabama, has given me insight on the culture as it was back then, and how it translates to now. Don't let me forget to mention the mystery involved-- it keeps you reading. It's nearly like finding out in the end what happens in To Kill a Mockingbird.--yes it's that good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Good mystery

    Wonderful look at the Southern poor during the depression. Family, love, mystery and a very well written, descriptive narrative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    In the novel, The Well and the Mine, author Gin Phillips explo


    In the novel, The Well and the Mine, author Gin Phillips explores the value of community, family, hope and determination during times of hardships. The setting of Phillips’s first novel takes place in a small coal mining town of Alabama in the year of 1931. Written in third person omniscient, Phillips allows readers to see the thoughts, emotions, hopes and dreams of each member of the Moore family. In using this style of writing, Phillips is able to bring her characters to life in a manner that makes each person unique and part of our lives in no time at all.
    Parents, Albert and Leta are hard working people who have faced many trials and tribulations as they struggle to make ends meet in times of shortage. Wanting nothing but a better life for their three young children, Virgie who is fifteen, Tess age nine, and young Jack who is only seven, the Moore’s are a prime example of how the human race can provide compassion to those they love. The novel begins with Tess witnessing a woman toss a baby into their family well and run away. The town is soon consumed with this horrific crime, but with no leads as to who it was, Tess and Virgie begin conducting their own investigation which leads to a surprising turn of events. Along the way the characters all face internal and external problems of their own as the children begin to grow up and explore who they really are and what they want to do in life. Readers will suffer along with Virgie as she begins to mature and faces the problems of love. Readers will cheer Tess on as she takes a stand for what she believes in and stays true to her values. Readers will hold their breath when Jack is nearly killed by a hit and run truck while walking to a baseball park. Most of all, readers will encourage Albert and Leta as they face economic hardships—performing back breaking work at the coal mines, striving to provide a stable home and positive life lessons to their children.
    The setting of The Well and the Mine also provides insight into the world of racism that existed during 1931 in the Deep South and how it affected people of all ages, races, and class systems. We also see firsthand how different levels of poverty were present despite skin color and sex. Life was not easy for anyone; no member of the community was left untouched by poverty’s hand.
    Gin Phillips’s attention to detail brings her novel to life. Readers will remember the characters long after they have finished and closed the book. Her style of writing transports you into the plot itself and the theme of love and family is evident on every page. Phillips’s writing technique focuses on symbolism and metaphors that will leave the reader thinking and questioning aspects of their own life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    Excellent!

    Very well written. Sentences so beautiful, it could move you to tears.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    It drags!

    My bookclub picked this book. It sounded interesting, but it was pretty boring. I did not like how the author split up the characters and the ending was very dissapointing! There was no ending... I was not pleased! She also kept going back and forth to the future... she should have kept everything in order.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Touching and Insightful. A story that stays with you long after you close the book.

    Although written about a mining town during the Great Depression, this book is very appropriate for today. It weaves the story of a family's struggles during difficult economic times...of going without the "wants" in life simply to have the "needs", of sharing what little you have with those who have even less, of providing kindness and assistance in a way that preserves the recipient's dignity and of realizing that gossip is not truth. The story begins with a mystery of a dead baby being placed into the family's well. The children try to solve the mystery and, while doing so, learn lessons of generosity that will last a lifetime.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I cared about these characters!

    A good story - great point of vew. Loved the writing style, first person from all characters.

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  • Posted January 21, 2010

    Well done....

    I'de just like to say that Gin Phillips has written a very good book. I read a lot fokes and this book flat out was outstanding. From start to finish her pace of the story was top notich. After finishing the book I have to admit that I was thinking about the story for day's and weeks after, it was that good. I'de have to say it was the best book I have read this year. And as I said before I read a lot. There are a lot of good books out there fokes but this one will stay in your hart along with making you find space for in your book shelf. The book is well worth your time to read.

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

    Good read

    This book was off the beaten path from what I normally read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't want it to end. Will look for more of Gin's books in the future.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2009

    Sad, warm & hopeful

    A story with a twist ...although I had a sense the last pages were rushed as if the author had a last date to meet...it touches on humanity; how each family member has a different story to tell about the same memory.....poignant, funny, sad. The author has a marvelous turn of phrase and the words could evoke the imagery of a poor mine town - one could smell the smoke and here the clang of the bell....

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  • Posted July 31, 2009

    Tough kids!

    Its amazing how one traumatic event can affect the lives of so many people! I devoured the book in anticipation of a resolution!

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Apparently I'm the lone curmudgeon

    Let me start off by saying I liked this book. That said, there were a few things that kept me from loving it.

    I thought the premise that kicked off the whole story was terrific -- a young girl witnesses a woman dropping a baby down a well. There's an immediate promise of conflict that never really seems to materialize. It's a very gentle book, perhaps too gentle for the deep and emotional topics it tries to take on. This is that rare family without conflict.

    The writing is good enough; there are lots of evocative details and the author seems to capture the period and the place well enough. But the characters seem lackluster. One of the problems is that when the author switches from one "voice" to another, there's not enough difference to tell them apart. The entire story might as well have been told in one voice. I would also say that the author does not succeed in capturing the thoughts, psychology, or conversation of her male characters.

    The climactic scenes of the book (Tess and Virgie's confrontation of the Well Woman, and Papa's defiance of interracial restrictions) come too late and are too weak to be more than lukewarm and marginally satisfying. This reader, having stuck with it to the end, hoped for just a little more.

    Recommended for genteel readers and maybe even young readers of the "Little House on the Prairie" ilk. Most other readers will find the whole thing a little too tame and a little too sweet.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful period writing that takes you back

    Gin Phillips crafts a story which unfolds in Depression era Alabama that stays with its readers long after the book is finished. It is an exceptional first novel which leaves you anticipating Phillips' next release date like a child waiting on Christmas morning. Her characterizations are solid and ensure that readers know each of THE WELL AND THE MINE's main characters as well as they know their own neighbors. The prose is clean and somewhat sparse, but it is lyrical when least expected. I consistently tell students, "To write better, read better." THE WELL AND THE MINE is a must read for anyone who wants to write well.

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  • Posted May 11, 2009

    This is Literature

    The best written book I have read in years. The stunning story is told from several perspectives and touches on social issues in unexpected ways. A truly great read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    Great character description.

    I liked this book..however it did move a bit slow.
    Gin Phillips' descriptions of the characters, the era, and the area were great! You could feel the love and closeness of this hard working family.
    The anticlimactic ending was a bit disappointing.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews

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