October 10, 2019
Annie Clements is called “America’s Joan of Arc”
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Michigan, Mining, Activism, Biographical, Union
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In July of 1913, twenty-five-year-cold Annie Clements has seen enough of the unfair working conditions in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan and decides it’s time to fight for a change. The men who work in the copper mines endure long hours, dangerous conditions, and low wages. Annie organizes and encourages the women to support a strike, but she also faces possible imprisonment, her husband’s anger, and personal threats. The Women of the Copper Country is a fictionalized account of the courageous efforts of women to organize a strike in the early history of the labor movement.
Activist Annie Clements 1915 (photo source: Wikipedia)
“There’s no progress in the world if we all just keep our heads down and only do what’s good and proper in our tiny corner of it.”
“We plant the seeds of justice, and justice will rise out of this muck someday.”
Writing: The Women of the Copper Country is well researched, beautifully written, and engaging. We are transported to time and place and are confronted with the circumstances of life in this mining town. The writing causes me to ponder what I would do in their situation. The perspective in the story definitely represents the plight of the miners and supports the labor movement. Overall, the story’s tone struck me as bleak and sad. The author wants us to feel the despair.
Characters: Each character is well-drawn and memorable. During the reading, I felt compelled to google Annie and learn more about her life. The mine owner and executives are characterized in the worst possible way. It’s obvious that the author sympathizes with the workers in this story! Even though the characters are interesting, I didn’t feel a strong connection with them (which affected my star rating).
Recommended: I recommend The Women of the Copper Country for fans of well-written and well-researched historical fiction, for those who are interested in the history of the labor movement in Michigan, for readers looking for stories about courageous and independent women, and for book clubs.
Content Warning: overall bleak and sad tone; one tragic event near the end of the story involves the death of children
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Mary Doria Russell
Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in contemporary American literature. Her novels are critically acclaimed, commercial successes. They are also studied in literature, theology and history courses in colleges and universities across the United States. Mary’s guest lectures have proved popular from New Zealand to Germany as well as in the U.S. and Canada.
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