THE WOMEN OF THE COPPER COUNTRY by Mary Doria Russell, is simply not to be missed! This is book club fodder in a big way.
This novel is doused with history. Filled with wonderfully strong women. Seasoned with truth and brought to life through tireless research. I love to learn through reading a great novel. That is what this is: a great novel.
I kept thinking of my friend Linda while I read as this novel takes place in her home state of Michigan. Russell takes us back to a time when the copper mines were alive and filled with immigrants who arrived on our shores ripe for work and filled with hope for a better future.
It’s 1913 in Calumet, Michigan. Life is very good for those at the top of the chain. However, most are far from the top and struggle to make enough money to feed their families let alone get ahead in this harsh world of mining. The miners work underground from dark to dark, hardly ever seeing the light of day. The working conditions in the mine are deplorable. Most miners do not live long lives. And even those few that do are riddled with arthritis and deformed from the working conditions. The women of the Copper Country lead torturous existences. Their work is both backbreaking and filled with mental anguish.
Annie Clements is twenty-five-years-old when the novel opens. She’s spent her life in Calumet watching the miners work themselves to death. Annie is based on a real woman who marched for change. All Annie wanted was to make sure the miners and their families got an honest wage for honest work. So she got involved with the union.
There are scenes in this novel that will take your breath away. For those of you who already know this history, you may know what is coming. I did not. I feared this novel might read too much like a history book. Fear not. It’s just wonderful. The writing is smooth and will keep the pages moving because you become so involved with the lives of the characters. I had to keep reminding myself that most of this actually happened. OMG. How much can a human endure?
The general manager of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company is James MacNaughton. A more convincing villain does not exist. I hated him right off the bat. He truly believes that Europe is gleefully exporting its wretched refuse to America. When a tragedy occurs involving some of the miners, he turns his head.
Meanwhile, Annie is relentless and has amassed an army of women who are just as determined as she is to make their lives better. Challenging times. Trying to organize a union in the Copper Country is all but impossible…
Eva Savicki starts out as a love-sick teenager mooning over young Jack Kivisito who is also just a teen. He, at first, tries to avoid her. She is relentless. But by the time the story evolves everything has changed.
Come for the story, but you’ll stay for the wonderful reading experience that Russell provides. You might just learn a lot.
Mary Doria Russell is not new to novel writing. She’s graced the reading public with six novels, and now this new one. If you haven’t read her before, this is a great way to start!
We will have copies of this amazing new novel at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida. Pub date is August 6. They will be discounted 20% off.
My beautiful finished hard cover of THE WOMEN OF THE COPPER COUNTRY arrived via the generous publishing house of Atria in exchange for an honest review. This novel is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Cheers!