Reviews of The Women of the Copper Country
The work of a masterly storyteller, Mary Doria Russell’s fictional account of the Calumet, Mich., copper-mining strike of 1913 is impossible to put down. Let by Annie Clements – a 25-year-old miner’s wife and president of the Women’s Auxilliary of the Western Federation of Miners, Local 15 – the strikers demand better wages and safer working conditions. Miners have suffered terrible injuries, and gruesome deaths are commonplace. Carrying an enormous American flag at the head of a protest march through the company town, Clements faces down National Guard troops armed with guns and bayonets. Her eyes on the mounted troop’s commander, Clements “raisers her voice, for her words are meant to be heard by the women and children behind her, and by all the men who surround them. Men in uniform or out of it. Men who work for the company and men who work for the state. Men who want women to cook and clean and to bear sons who’ll grow up and accept whatever pittance is tossed their way and be grateful for it.” Ms. Russell’s beautiful prose, flawless period detail and fully realized characters bring the searing events of this saga, and their shocking aftermath, to powerful life.
– Wall Street Journal
Astutely researched, the writing of this book was clearly a labor of love for the author. She stays true to the heart of this lesser-known part of American history while tweaking just enough to give it the momentum and power it needed to make a compelling story.
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.”
– Publishers’ Weekly