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The Women of the Copper Country

by Mary Doria Russell

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2213891,539 (4.17)82
"In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She's spent her whole life in the coal-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries--and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren't coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
This should be compelling but I was not compelled. A minners' strike in early 20th century Michigan upper peninsula is a difficult setting to sell and this retelling focuses too much on one woman and personal issues but not convincingly. The growth arc of the young woman Eva gets more interesting as the book goes on, ( )
  quondame | Mar 2, 2021 |
Historical fiction about Anna Klobuchar Clements and the 1913 miners strike in Calumet, Michigan. Russell has done a great job of researching the historical issues that created that event. It is a good example of the brutal resistance to organized labor in the early 20th century. Several historical figures are introduced. It was fun to look some of them up in Wikipedia as they came up in the story.

I highly recommend this one. ( )
  tangledthread | Jan 28, 2021 |
Yep, five stars for this wonderful historical novel. My commitment has been that any book that brings tears to my eyes gets five stars. It's not scientific but it reflects how special and rare it is for a book to move me that deeply.

Set in Calumet, Michigan, in 1913, this is a well-researched fictionalized account of the copper miners strike, the Christmas Eve Italian Hall disaster, and the role women played in the labor fights of the first half of the 20th century. It is also a poignant illustration of the tension that continues to this day between those who would see the vast wealth of our nation sit in a very few pockets and those who would see the fruits of our innovation and labor distributed more equitable among those who contribute. The cold-hearted smugness of mine manager James MacNaughton seems, as Ms. Russell herself notes, almost overly dramatic. But it is accurate and consistent with the historical records. And, to my mind, that kind of self-righteous elitism is really not so very rare. Almost unbelievable, but common.

Still, the novel is a perfect blend of realism and optimism, romance and tragedy. Highly recommended. ( )
4 vote EBT1002 | Jan 3, 2021 |
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about union organizers in the 1910s, and I definitely didn't know anything about the copper mine strike in Minnesota. Russell really brought their story to life, focusing on the women behind the strike, particularly Annie Clmenc (Clements in the book).

This isn't a happy book. But it was a good and important one. Russell depicted the ruthlessness of the strikebreakers, the callous patriarchal and exploitative nature of the men who ran the copper company, and the determination of the union organizers. Some famous historical figures to the labor movement made their way through the story.

I always expect a well-told well-researched story from Russell, and this did not disappoint in that respect. I suspect some will be disappointed in the ending, which was not a particularly uplifting or happy one, but I thought it suited the book and the times very well.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  wisemetis | Dec 6, 2020 |
This story tore at my heart. ( )
  kaylynvh | Oct 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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For Agnes Shanklin and Richard Cima, of blessed memory, and for all the union thugs who teach high school English
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The dream is always simple. The memory never is.
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"In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She's spent her whole life in the coal-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries--and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren't coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle"--

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