The very first word that occurred to me when I began reading Ms. Russell’s book was “solid”, and then, I swear, there was a sense of relief. This book is solid, and this is not faint praise. I knew I could count on it, lean into it, walk around in its rooms and settings and not trip or fall through a weak spot. Hosanna!
Set in the copper mining country of upper Michigan, the story is a harsh one, based on events arising out of the labor movement of the early Twentieth Century, and in particular the Michigan copper mines strike of 1913 and the Italian Hall disaster. Characters are, for the most part, actual persons or composites. There is Anna Klobuchar Clements, the tall woman, wife of a miner, America’s Joan of Arc, who inspired and led a wildcat strike of nearly a year’s duration, protesting low pay, long hours, and dangerous conditions for the miners. With Anna as its primary figure, the book focuses on the women in the movement, the women behind the miners, their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. These women lived with horror and loss on a near weekly basis – crippling, maiming, work-ending injury and death in the mines. Not if, but when.
Strong material for sure, and with her deft and artistic hand, Ms. Russell knows just what to make of it. Good material and diligent research, skillful plotting and narrative, fully realized characterizations, sure sense of time and place. It’s all there. For, you see, Ms. Russell is not only an artist, she knows her craft, and it is craftsmanship that makes this the good book that it is; good and, yes, solid. A book you are grateful for, that you can count on. Lean into it. It will hold.
You’ll have to wait until August 6 for The Women of Copper Country to hit bookstores. But why wait when you can pre-order this gem? Click here to support your local indie bookstore or here to pre-order from Amazon.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the publisher, the author and NetGalley for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.