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 historical novel, set in 1830s Belfast. It is Glenn Patterson’s eighth novel; he has also published a memoir and a volume of journalistic writings.