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The Marrowbone Marble Company

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  601 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
From the author of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a finalist for the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, comes this sweeping novel of love and war, power and oppression, faith and deception, over the course of three defining american decades.

1941. Loyal Ledford works the swing shift tending furnace at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts
ebook, 368 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Will Byrnes
Taylor’s first novel, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a revelation. Written with the tonal sensitivity of a poet, it portrayed harsh reality in Appalachia with literary flair. Taylor returns to this turf with The Marrowbone Marble Company. It tells the tale of Lloyd Ledford, a working class West Virginian, shaped by his upbringing and the horrors he experienced in World War II. As he grows we travel through the mid-20th century in Appalachia. He goes from working in a glass factory to own ...more
Dan Porter
Writing a review of M. Glenn Taylor's The Marrowbone Marble Company has been difficult for me - not because of the book itself but because determining where it fits in my reading experience and my life experience has been an elusive process. Covering the period from October, 1941 to January, 1969 - with a ten-year gap from 1953 to 1963 - the book could be "about" any of several things. The protagonist, Loyal Ledford, tends the furnace on the swing shift in a West Virginia glass factory until he ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Joe says:

Just finished this one last night and I'm still trying to figure out what to say about it. First: Read it. It's so good. So freaking good! Loyal Ledford returns from fighting in the Pacific in World War II and doesn't see the world the same way he used to, and definitely not the way folks in West Virigina see things. Ledford sets about creating a place where black and white live and work together... something like a utopia, built around a marble factory. I'm not saying enough about why
switterbug (Betsey)
I admire the scope of this tough, ambitious book more than I ultimately enjoyed it. Early on, Taylor convinced me that this was going to be a character-driven book. But as the cast grew and the characterizations diminished, I ceased to inhabit it fully. The essential ingredient--individual portrayal--blurs into the larger themes of racial unrest within the genesis of the Civil Rights Movement. People became mere sketches. Except for the main protagonist, Loyal Ledford, the cast was populated by ...more
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marrowbone Marble Factory is the story of the civil rights movement. Its seeds were in World War II when black and white soldiers fought together and got to know someone ‘different’. Loyal Ledford is one of these Vets. As he returns from war to his native West Virginia, marries, starts a family and wrestles with his war demons he decides to live fully rather than rely on whiskey. He’s descended from Native Americans and for generations his family has always lived apart in the mountains to avoid ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This was a First Reads win for me. I have to say that I do not know that I would have read it so soon (if at all, honestly) if I hadn't won it on First Reads, but I am sooooo glad I did. It started out a little slow for me--I thought the characters were a bit flat early on--and the plot seemed to be heading in a way I was not in the mood for. I was really hoping it wasn't going to go the way it seemed it was: guy sees horrors in WWII, comes home and drinks like a fish to get away from it, etc. B ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, fiction
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.

This was one of those books that I signed up for in First Reads, but I wasn't super-eager to read it. Boy, if I had only known! It only took 2 pages and I was hooked.

This is the story of Loyal Ledford and his marble factory, along with the desegregated community that springs up around it. It covers the time period between World War II and the first moon landing, and has the feel of an epic even though it's only 358 pages long. Taylor is wonde
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I was extremely excited to read this, first and foremost, because it is set in West Virginia (which is where I grew up) and secondly, because I've heard great things about M. Glenn Taylor, whose first book, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. I must say that I was not disappointed with Mr. Taylor's work here. I was absolutely transported to another era where a cast of larger-than-life characters filled up the pages so much that I ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Marrowbone Marble Company” is a very unexpected novel. From its mouthful of a title to the rather bland and quiet few opening pages the reader is not given a hint at the ride they are in for. The novel starts off slowly, and then unexpectedly and out of nowhere you have fallen under its spell.
The text is written in the third person with the author letting us in and out of a multitude of characters’ heads, often times from sentence to sentence. We even get into the heads of minor characters,
Giving up ... Can't get into this one. May just be the wrong time so will try again another time but just finding characters dull, flat & boring. Things happen and invariably not very good but finding myself not giving a hoot ! And up to 30% now so going to stop and try again later before rating.
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, donated
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern
The protagonists of The Marrowbone Marble Company share the same slow and determined methodical air that permeates M. Glenn Taylor’s portrayal of mid-century West Virginia—but that’s hardly surprising is it? With the main character of a name Loyal Ledford, it’s no surprise the whole cast consists of down-home, hard-working folks making do in a harsh land.

And that’s the major problem with the novel, it delivers exactly what’d you expect. Its motives are well enough: to conjure those ghosts of rac
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014
This novel is written in a standoffish and brusk style, with short, matter-of-fact sentences that aren't exactly brimming over with emotion. It's the sort of book where you might read a passage like: "Ma died that fall. The corn harvest was good. We got a new dog."

Thus it took almost the full book to feel like I really knew the characters, but I'm pleased to say that it was worth it. Even some of the lesser characters - that throughout the book I kept getting mixed up and couldn't remember wher
Adam Bricker
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads sweepstakes.

I really enjoyed this book. The imagery was very vivid and the characters were well developed.

There were so many dynamics to keep you intrigued throughout this read. The author explores the relationships between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, people being unfulfilled at their jobs, but doing what they have to do to support a growing family.

Racial injustices and society's reaction to returning veterans are d
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember learning about Appalachia in elementary school - and wanting to know more. Same country, different state - different lives. Set in West VA, this book provides an education and a story; it tracks the life of Loyal Ledford and his family in West VA during the 40's, 50's and 60's. After WWII, Loyal struggles to come to terms with his experiences as a Marine in Guadalcanal and to build his utopian dream - black and white living and working together in Marrowbone, WVA. The native-American ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I really liked this one from Glenn Taylor. Spanning decades in rural West Virginia, this is an openly idealistic look at a community who attempts to live more socially progressive despite the racism of the times [1940s-1960s] and the area. It's pretty much a commune these people set up in the rural hollers of West Virginia as they attempt to be self-sufficient. I guess you could call this a "rural utopia" that these people attempt to create. Taylor's writing is really clean and straight forward ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my Most Favorite Ever
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ranging from WW2 on throught the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s - Ledford comes back from the war in the Pacific with a dream. Can he make it come true?
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loyal Ledford grows up surrounded by tragedy, and at age thirteen is left to raise himself simply and quietly. Being alone suits him, and he works hard, not making waves. He enlists after Pearl Harbor, eager to defend his homeland. Being sent to the Pacific to fight the Japanese, he learns the horrors of war and the fragility of friendships.

He returns to West Virginia an angry man, an alcoholic really, who is unable to cope when faced with cruelties in the world. He begins by shutting out the n
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
My second novel in a row (after The Blue Orchard) at least partly about race relations in America in the years surrounding WWII. This one is set in West Virginia with a small group of heroic misfits--and a few villains. This one deserves 5 stars for the exquisite quality of the writing, but this one doesn't feel as authentic and believable as The Blue Orchard, even if the writing far surpasses it. I also can't give this one 5 stars because I didn't like the denouement. It's not a writing flaw--i ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Young orphan Loyal Ledford leaves his job at a glass factory to join the Marines after Pearl Harbor. His experiences in Guadalcanal change him forever and he returns home a broken alcoholic plagued by recurring nightmares. Loyal manages to marry the sweetheart he left behind and decides to start a new life on some land owned by distant relatives. A dream tells him to build a marble factory and Loyal uses the opportunity to create a utopi
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I read this for a book club, or I would never have even picked it up. I didn't really enjoy it, or ever care what was going to happen. Here are some of the reasons:

Loyal Ledford is the primary character, and I think we are supposed to sympathize with him, but there is never any internal dialog, not much in the way of character development, no way for the reader to understand why Ledford does the things he does. We are told that he drinks to much, that he loves his wife, that he has nightmares, t
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I enjoyed this book mainly because I grew up in Huntington, WV, and am familiar with the locations mentioned in the book.
Tim Edwards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
At the end of World War II Loyal Ledford comes back changed from the US campaign in the Pacific and has to find a way to live out the rest of his life. He does this by making a closer connection to his roots, by building a family, a business and a community against the backdrop of a changing America. The novel deals with issues of war, race, class and family in the United States of the 1940s to the 1960s.

I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I thought I was going to. The beginning is slow and o
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
The story of Loyal Ledford appealed to me and I was looking forward to reading the story and enough has been said about it by other reviewers. I thought from what others had said it might be a good book for my book group as it covered an interesting period of American history. The book floundered for me because as it went on I lost interest in the characters and they were never fully developed enough for me to be truely engrossed by them. Rachel, Ledford's wife staretd out with promise but soon ...more
Robert Williams
My 5th book in my Mr B's Reading Year

I loved this book and really enjoyed the breadth of the subject matter. It opens in the 1940's and moves through to the 1960's, examining the social changes affecting America through this period. It focuses on Loyal Ledford, his family and the community he builds, to show off the issues of race and class the book deals with.

It is a political book but more than that it is a book about families and communities and the ties that bind us together. It is a book a
I read this book for several reasons. (1) My father's family is from the same general area of West Virginia, and I always enjoy reading about that part of our country so I can try to learn about the people and the geography--even if it is fictional. (2) I collect marbles. Now, I'm not a fanatic, but I do find the little glass spheres interesting. Coincidentally, WV is supposed to be a mecca of sorts for marble and glass collectors. (3) The book and author were getting notable reviews in several ...more
Ryan Mishap
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
An irresistible title and the story proves as interesting, spanning the years 1941-1969 in West Virginia through the character of Loyal Ledford--a man haunted by the horrors of Guadlcanl, impatient working for fools, and willing to challenge the racism of his homeland.

Novels that use characters, places, and specific incidences in their interactions as touchstones for the larger cultural, social, economic, and political events of the age help distill those bigger themes, providing us with a slug
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very predictable. Man goes to war, sees some horrible things, comes home and has a drinking problem, marries a sweet girl and has some kids, gets sober, hates his job, quits job and moves to the country. All of this is set in the South after WWII. The main character is friends with a black man who is very smart but treated poorly because of his skin color.

I made it halfway through this book and then gave up. I felt no emotional connection to the characters because to me they a
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Glenn Taylor is the author of the novels A Hanging at Cinder Bottom, The Marrowbone Marble Company and The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, GQ, and Electric Literature, among others. He resided for a time in Austin, Texas, and after that, Chicago. He earned an MFA from Texas State University. Glenn was b ...more
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“When a man accepts that he will no doubt die, he is free to live.” 8 likes
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