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The Last Ballad: A Novel by Wiley Cash

The Last Ballad: A Novel

by Wiley Cash

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2593464,500 (3.86)66
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    Serena by Ron Rash (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These novels set during the Depression explore workers' rights from different perspectives. Serena is violent and dark while The Last Ballad is moving and inspiring; both examine the courage and cowardice of players on each side of the labor movement.… (more)

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Richly observed portrait of the actors that were invloved in the tragic 1929 Loray mill strike in Gastonia, NC. Labor unrest in the American South has been glossed over by history but this novel shines a light on one of the most important strikes in not just America, but the world (I'm not kidding). Yet it is not taught in most if not all textbooks. It also may have been the birthplace of folk music. ( )
  earlbot88 | Jan 20, 2019 |
The Last Ballad🍒🍒🍒🍒
By Wiley Cash
William Morrow

The courage and heart of Ella Mae Wiggins, her insight and belief that all Mill workers deserve equal and fair pay and working conditions, free from discrimination is based on actual events of 1929, in North Carolina. Her heroic efforts inspired many to demand change and opportunity.
The fight for justice, the honest and hard working life during this time of devastation and social change are moving and vivid. The desperation is felt. The slow pace of the book at first bothered me, but quickly became obvious and essential. This style helped make the book wonderful. ( )
  over.the.edge | Sep 16, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm late to the Wiley Cash bandwagon but I'm a firm permanent resident at this point. I loved his other books and had high expectations for this, his latest. I was not disappointed.

The writing is superb, the setting feels like you can touch, hear, and smell it while you're reading.

I didn't realize until I was about halfway through the book that this is based on real events and a real person. I happened to Google a location and found the real Ella May Wiggins.

As usual the story is told from several different viewpoints. Cash does this so well and beautifully circles the story around to show multiple sides of things.

He is a brilliant writer and I hope he keeps at it. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Sep 7, 2018 |
Wiley Cash has the story-telling gift. This novel is based on historical incidents in the early 20th century, as union organizers attempted to bring better wages and working conditions to the textile mills of Appalachia. Varying points of view add perspective and tension to the tale; although we learn early on that the first character we meet, Ella Mae Wiggins, will risk everything to try to improve her family's lot by joining the union, and that she will be murdered eventually because of her actions, that foreknowledge takes nothing away from her story, bits of which we learn through the eyes of other unforgettable characters. A page-turner; highly recommended.
November 2017 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jul 7, 2018 |
THE LAST BALLAD is historical fiction about a poor female textile mill worker who one day in the 1920s walked off the job and joined the National Textile Workers Union. It is also about a certain one of their strikes in 1929 in North Carolina. The ex-mill worker was Ella May Wiggins, and that particular strike was the Loray Mill strike. These we know to be true because Wiley Cash says so in this “Afterword.”

Historical fiction always has some truth to it. That’s what makes it so appealing. But what about THE LAST BALLAD is true other than what Cash writes in his “Afterword”? I wanted to believe, especially, in Richard McAdam, the enlightened but weak mill owner, and Hampton Haywood, the black Communist from the North. So I did some research, and it looks like these and the other characters in the book just aid the story and are straight from Cash’s imagination.

Not only does Cash write well enough to make the reader want to believe his fiction; he also tells a balanced story. That is, for example, Ella is dirt poor, barely able to feed her children, but well-off Katherine McAdams wants to and does help her. Cash also shows both the good and bad characters in the police department and among the strikers.

This is an interesting story of a little-known part of American history. It is not a happy book, though.

I won this book through the JATHAN & HEATHER website. ( )
  techeditor | Jul 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Inspired by the events of an actual textile-mill strike in 1929, Cash (This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014, etc.) creates a vivid picture of one woman’s desperation... Although it is initially a bit difficult to keep so many points of view straight, it is satisfying to see them all connect. It’s refreshing that Cash highlights the struggles of often forgotten heroes and shows how crucial women and African-Americans were in the fight for workers’ rights.

A heartbreaking and beautifully written look at the real people involved in the labor movement.
Powerful and poignant, North Carolina author Wiley Cash’s third and best novel tells the story of Ella May...Beyond Ella’s personal story, this is the very best kind of historical novel — one whose events are largely nonfiction, and whose characters, invented though they may be, probably closely resemble the souls who did walk the Earth during that time. Cash is a fine and subtle writer, who tells an American story painful in the way the most authentic American stories are — replete with personal, political, sexual, racial and class strife, yet redeemed by gritty individual and community faith in a better, fairer world.
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For my daughters Early Elizabeth and Juniper Rose
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Ella May knew she wasn't pretty, had always known it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The eagerly awaited next novel from the author of the New York Times bestselling A Land More Kind Than Home about a young mother desperately trying to hold her family together in the years before the Great Depression, a haunting and moving story of cowardice, courage and sacrifice"--… (more)

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