- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Harper Perennial ed. edition (December 27, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060509422
- ISBN-13: 978-0060509422
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 195 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,486,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Baker Towers: A Novel Paperback – December 27, 2005
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“The living, breathing organism that is Haigh’s captivating book… [is an] effortlessly haunting story… [Haigh is] an expert natural storyteller.” (New York Times)
“Jennifer Haigh’s ambitious, elegiac second novel, Baker Towers [is]… a rich portrait of place.” (Washington Post Book World)
“An elegant, elegiac multigenerational saga. . . . Almost mythic in its ambition, somewhere between Oates and Updike country, and thoroughly satisfying.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“[Haigh] writes convincingly of family and small town relations, as well as of the intractable frustrations of American poverty.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Jennifer Haigh stakes a claim for a major breakout.” (Publishers Weekly)
“In clean, authoritative prose, Haigh uncannily injects new life into an era too often entombed by nostalgia.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“A good old-fashioned read... the author deftly evokes the particulars of a time and place.” (Daily News)
“Terrific.” (Harlan Coben, The Birmingham News)
“Haigh’s writing is rich and mellifluous, and her story certainly has an old-fashioned charm and dignity to it.” (The Times (London))
“A work that is quickly boosting [Haigh’s] ascension to the vanguard of 21st century American novelists.” (Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA))
About the Author
Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short-story collection News from Heaven and four critically acclaimed novels: Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers, and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won both the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the PEN/L.L. Winship Award for work by a New England writer. Her short fiction has been published widely, in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories, and many other places. She lives in Boston.
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Author Jennifer Haigh has told a searing family drama of love and faith, tragedy and pain and the eternal well of hope. But the real power and genius of this book is that it made me feel as if I were actually living in Bakerton. The town and its residents just came alive for me and they moved over to let me join them—and in this sense the book is quite compelling. I highly recommend it.
There is much merit in reconstructing a Pennsylvania miners’ town in the fifties. Attempting to create an interesting novel within the confines of conservative times and settings demands considerable talent. But there are times when Haig seems, like some of her characters, to want out of the hardworking yet sleepy place.
The problem may lie with the abundance of themes and characters in the novel. As stated before, this is not quite a family saga, nor is it a complete chronicle. It ends up with vague sketches in lieu of portraits. If they often work as poetic suggestions, some of her scenes and chapters can look disconnected.
Drama, intense drama, comes quite late in the novel, when minors are trapped. What if she had placed this at the beginning of the novel, as a tension builder as well as a background for the rest of her portrayal, going back and forth, between issues of economy, family and xenophobia, would that have given the novel the structure it needed? But I am rewriting here. When Haigh begins and ends the novel with the same theme, a very existential, if somber, theme, thus giving her novel a circular structure, I believe she ultimately made the right choices.
And she does work her ending, her beautiful ending. I may have issues with some of her pace and some of her portrayals, but this doesn’t prevent me from seeing Bakers Towers as a piece of literature.
Like Bakerton, Georgie, Dorothy, Joyce, Lucy, and Sandy are defined by more than the twin stacks of mine waste that come to represent the town. While all five children have grown up within the walls of the Novak household, each proves as unique as snowflakes and as fragile in many respects as the morning dew. It's this fragility that brings fullness and richness to the characters, and the lives of those they interact with. And ultimately it defines the pull of home, whether they reach out and grab it, or do whatever they can to run from it. That is the true definition of small town life, and it's a message that resonates throughout this novel's pages.
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