From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Sparrow comes “historical fiction that feels uncomfortably relevant today” (Kirkus Reviews) about “America’s Joan of Arc”—the courageous woman who started a rebellion by leading a strike against the largest copper mining company in the world.
In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements has seen enough of the world to know that it’s unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan, where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and have barely enough to put food on the table for their families. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. So, when Annie decides to stand up for the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.
Yet as Annie struggles to improve the future of her town, her husband becomes increasingly frustrated with her growing independence. She faces the threat of prison while also discovering a forbidden love. On her fierce quest for justice, Annie will see just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the families of Calumet.
From one of the most versatile writers in contemporary fiction, this novel is an authentic and moving historical portrait of the lives of the crucial men and women of the early labor movement “with an important message that will resonate with contemporary readers” (Booklist).
Russell's latest historical, a carefully researched rendering of the Copper Country strike of 1913 1914, pays meticulous attention to detail that is often fascinating but occasionally tedious. Charlie Miller comes to Calumet, a company town on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, to organize the local copper miners, and his rhetoric inspires idealistic Annie Clements to lead the Women's Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners, Local 15, despite her husband's disapproval. After a worker is fatally injured an all-too-common event the miners vote to strike. As weeks turn into months, the Women's Auxiliary works tirelessly to keep the miners and their families fed and clothed and to keep everyone's spirits up. The painstakingly comprehensive narrative and omniscient point of view make for a deliberate pace, but they also ensure readers completely understand what happened. The tale is often bleak, but it serves as a worthwhile counterpoint to historical writing centered on "great men."