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The story begins with the death of Stanley Novak, wife of Rose and father of Georgie, Dorothy, Joyce, Lucy, and Sandy. This is an Italian-Polish marriage, tolerated, but a break with the town's tradition. The personality, temperament and needs of all five Novaks are made clear to us by their choices--although they are not always clear to the Novaks. Their interaction, with each other and their community, is the stuff of the novel. Life revolves around the mines, the Church, gossip, and sports. Many times throughout the book it seems that Haigh is using a camera rather than a pen, so perfectly does she create a scene for the reader.
Georgie struggles to get away from Bakerton after his military service by going to Philadelphia and marrying the boss's daughter, a decision he lives to regret. Dorothy gets a job in D.C., but never really fits into the scene. A breakdown brings her home for good. Joyce joins the military, is appalled by the way she is treated, and hastens home to care for her ailing mother. Lucy, overweight and unwelcome with the "in" crowd, longs to be Fire Queen, the pinnacle of acceptance in Bakerton. Sandy, handsome and unreliable, leaves for big city life, finds it, and comes home periodically to hide out.
Haigh has captured these people's lives as they play out, more acted upon than acting. None of the Novaks is self-reflective; the girls accept the status quo, the boys escape and find that they have taken themselves with them. A foreshadowing of the changes that will take place is symbolized by a horrific mine explosion at the end of the book. This life that Haigh has so carefully described will soon disappear forever, for good or ill, but she has illuminated its current reality with a sure hand. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This novel is set in the first half of the 20th century in a Pennsylvania coal mining town. The author does an excellent job of describing the lifestyle within a community whose... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Nanjio
The story about an old coal mining town was what I liked. Her descriptions were very good.Published 1 month ago by Darla Jones
I really enjoyed this book; my original was lost so I bought it again and read it again!Published 5 months ago by Barbara L. Duke
I enjoyed hearing about this time in our history, funny and yet so sad.Published 5 months ago by Maureen S.
Great story. Hated for it to end. Great characters come to life in this book. I would definitely recommend it.Published 7 months ago by ginny jasinski
Drama or chronicle, which one is it? That’s the question I asked myself in the middle of this sober, at times poignant, occasionally gripping novel. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Marie-Jo Fortis
I had read Jennifer Haigh's more recent story collection, News From Heaven, and loved it so much that I ordered this earlier novel set in the same hardscrabble Pennsylvania coal... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mary Owens