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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, forever. "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.