Play Book Tag discussion

The Women of the Copper Country
This topic is about The Women of the Copper Country
18 views
Archive: Other Books > The Women of the Copper Country - Russell - 5 stars

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jgrace (last edited Sep 02, 2019 07:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jgrace | 2710 comments The Women of the Copper Country - Russell
4.5 stars

I look forward to any book by Mary Doria Russell. This one did not disappoint. It takes place in Calumet, Michigan in July of 1913. It follows a year long wildcat copper miners’ strike. The ‘wildcat’ is the female instigator and leader, Anna Klobuchar Clemens.

It’s a hard story. Russell is good at depicting brutal conditions, physical suffering, and extreme poverty. In the set up to the story, it becomes easy to see why the miners may need to strike. At the same time, Russell is able to easily and naturally, disclose all of the political and social threats that impede the growth of labor unions. She doesn’t spend a lot of time on state and national issues in any way that slows the story arc. There’s just enough historical background to give a wider context to an ill-advised wildcat strike.

This is an immigrant story. The town of Calumet is populated with first and second generation European immigrants; Swedes, Finns, Pole and Italians. One of the inspired organizational strategies of the Women’s Auxiliary was to translate informational pamphlets into 33 different languages. There’s no escaping the exploitation and bigotry at work in crushing the strike. It’s not at all difficult to see current day parallels, as I’m sure the author intended.

Most of all, this is a feminist story. Anna Clemons was a crusader. She inspired the other wives. She instigated the strike vote. She lead the marches. She organized the food and clothing drives. She paid the price, and was jailed with the elected union leaders. Russell took some fictional liberties with Annie’s personal history. She becomes an interesting, complex character. This strike happened seven years before the ratification of the 19th amendment. Anna Clemons had very few legal protections from the rich mine owners or her own abusive husband. The book draws a clear connecting line between workers’ rights and women’s rights. (Cue a chorus of Bread and Roses).

This story was interesting, even inspiring. It was also very sad. Russell used quotes from Romeo and Juliet as epigrams to each chapter. The year ended in tragedy, not victory.


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7112 comments This just came in for me at my Library-anxious to start it!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7644 comments I am roughly 75% through and I want to sit and finish listening to it but it is also heart-breaking and I am not sure I can just sit and listen to hours more of the injustice.

I know I will want to discuss this book more when I am done, but for now just skimmed our review. Look for more from me in a couple of days!!


Jgrace | 2710 comments Nicole R wrote: "I am roughly 75% through and I want to sit and finish listening to it but it is also heart-breaking and I am not sure I can just sit and listen to hours more of the injustice.

I know I will want ..."



The audio was well done, but I couldn't listen to it. Too much suffering for me to take in by ear. I usually go to a text copy when things get too ugly. It gives me more emotional distance.


Booknblues | 5311 comments Jgrace wrote: "Nicole R wrote: "I am roughly 75% through and I want to sit and finish listening to it but it is also heart-breaking and I am not sure I can just sit and listen to hours more of the injustice.

I ..."


I feel like we are really playing book tag with Copper Country and Lanny.

Some good reading there.


Booknblues | 5311 comments Lovely review by the way.


Jgrace | 2710 comments Booknblues wrote: "Lovely review by the way."

Thank you. We must have been reading it at about the same time. I'm really behind on my reviews.


Booknblues | 5311 comments Jgrace wrote: "Booknblues wrote: "Lovely review by the way."

Thank you. We must have been reading it at about the same time. I'm really behind on my reviews."


I am caught up for once, which is really rare.


back to top