The Women of the Copper Country

The Women of the Copper Country

In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the copper-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and...

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Title:The Women of the Copper Country
Author:Mary Doria Russell
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Women of the Copper Country Reviews

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    Some books are so good it’s hard to write a review to do them justice, this is one of those books. I do not get emotional often while reading a book but this one tore at my heart for all of the injustice and inhumanity that the miners and their families had to endure. A final tragedy that involved the deaths of many children brought tears to my eyes.

    The book takes place in Calumet, Michigan which, in 1913, had the largest copper producing mines in the United States, more than

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    Some books are so good it’s hard to write a review to do them justice, this is one of those books. I do not get emotional often while reading a book but this one tore at my heart for all of the injustice and inhumanity that the miners and their families had to endure. A final tragedy that involved the deaths of many children brought tears to my eyes.

    The book takes place in Calumet, Michigan which, in 1913, had the largest copper producing mines in the United States, more than the mines in Colorado and others out West. Located on the shores of Lake Superior it was an ideal shipping location.

    Much of the focus of this novel is on the November 1913 strike and Annie Clements, called Big Annie because of her tall stature, who was the organizer and leader of the strike. They were striking for an 8 hour day, 5 days a week, a small raise in pay along with safer working conditions. She started a Women’s Auxiliary which sewed white dresses for women and children who marched in the strike parade. A photographer, Michael Sweeney in the novel, took photos of the parade which were run in state and national newspapers.

    The general manager of Calumet & Hecla was James MacNaughton, a cheerless, selfish man who refused to listen to any talk of negotiations with the union. He felt as though the men were lucky to have a job. Many of the miners were immigrants, for which he held little respect. Even when the Governor of Michigan, Woodbridge Ferris, sent his representative to try and reason with MacNaughton, he wouldn’t even let him in his office.

    Daily strike parades were made nearly impossible when a blizzard of historic proportions hit the town and surrounding areas. When the union still persisted, MacNaughton brought in “strike breakers” that beat the protestors and broke windows and ransaked union houses.

    Ms. Russell’s writing is so descriptive I could almost feel the freezing cold and picture the shivering strikers. Her descriptions of the harsh winters in this area are enough to make me cold even as our temperatures are now in the 80’s.

    There are so many incredible characters in this novel that I can’t list them all. One of the paragraph’s in the author’s notes really stuck with me that I will share with you “A strike is a collective action . . . . .that said, the central role of women in the 1913 copper strike and in the labor movement in general was remarkable and has been underrepresented in most historical accounts”. Most of the characters are based on actual individuals while others are a composite of several. Most historical references are discussed in the Author’s Notes.

    This book is a quick read because of the wonderful flow of the writing and it’s well developed characters. I have been online reading articles and looking at photos from the strike as I can’t get this story out of my head.

    I highly recommend this book for lovers of great literature and particularly historical fiction. Ms. Russell has written another stellar novel for us to embrace.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

    This book will be published on August 6, 2019.

  • Carol

    - After reading

    I'm a fan for life.

    - The last two books I've read have epigraphs by William Shakespeare. I haven't checked to see if any are the same. Isn't this interesting. I could have left my line of choice blank and just thought about what the bard intended but decided to include this longer quote.

    A parade of strikers...

    - After reading

    I'm a fan for life.

    - The last two books I've read have epigraphs by William Shakespeare. I haven't checked to see if any are the same. Isn't this interesting. I could have left my line of choice blank and just thought about what the bard intended but decided to include this longer quote.

    A parade of strikers...

    - All the stars for Mary Doria Russell and her latest book,

    This is an incredible historical fiction novel and like all her books, a winner. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

    The briefest of a summary:

    It's 1913 in Calumet, Michigan, coal mining country. When six foot one Annie Klobuchar Clements of Slovenian descent decides to fight the copper giant, Jame McNaughton of Calumet & Hecla by starting a union she does it in as big a way as her height. Sparks are bound to fly. She's sick of men working 12 hour days for low pay and miner's slump. Though C&H offers matching contributions to the laborers' medical fund, men are still dying from the perils of working underground. Whose father, husband, brother, uncle, would be next?

    There's much to love here. Annie is based on a true character and in her quest for better working conditions she is joined by a few other women that made history including Mother Jones and

    is the perfect book to read on Labor Day Weekend. This is why unions were needed. Fair wages, decent working conditions, paid overtime, child labor laws, all needed reform.

    Be certain to read The Authors Note as it outlines the fact and fiction in these pages. There may be some surprises and perhaps some further reading to do.

  • Angela M

    Mary Doria Russell is a wonderful story teller and it’s about time that I finally read one of her books. I will, no doubt, get to some of her others because this one for me is deserving of five stars. The writing is descriptive but not overly, enough to give the reader a fantastic sense of time and place in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan in 1913 where the mine workers endure dangerous working conditions, meager pay checks and long hours, where men and boys die and children are hungry and c

    Mary Doria Russell is a wonderful story teller and it’s about time that I finally read one of her books. I will, no doubt, get to some of her others because this one for me is deserving of five stars. The writing is descriptive but not overly, enough to give the reader a fantastic sense of time and place in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan in 1913 where the mine workers endure dangerous working conditions, meager pay checks and long hours, where men and boys die and children are hungry and cold and women work so hard. The expert characterization allows us to see her characters in depth, what they are made of - from the amazing Annie Clements whose inner strength, savvy and heart move this story forward juxtaposed with the mean and heartless James MacNaughton, the mine boss. While this is a work of fiction, it is well researched. Russel clarifies in a note what is true and what she has taken liberties with. I was so captivated by this book, that I spent some time online reading more about the events that happened in Calumet around the strike that Annie and others lead. So much here is a true reflection.

    The story of what happens in this place is more than a glimpse of the struggle of workers there to organize. It’s a reflection of a part of our country’s history. I learned what a major role women had in trying to affect change. While Annie and young Eva and many other women in the Women’s Auxiliary are representative of the women of Calumet, there are others who played significant roles in the labor movement in this country who make an appearance. Mother Jones and Ella Bloor - so much to admire in the strength and downright gumption of these women. A pleasure to read about them. Violence, tragedy and heartbreak mark this story and it’s not easy to read in places, but it is so worth reading. Annie is a character and a historic figure I will remember and this book will be on my list of favorites for the year.

    This was a monthly read along with Diane and Esil and as always, I value our discussions.

    This ARC was provided by the publisher Atria via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Erin

    "Working Man" Rita McNeil 1990

    I wasn't in a huge hurry to get to my August arcs, but then I read a few reviews of this one and was all about making it a priority. Once again, I have discovered a book that is a cont

    "Working Man" Rita McNeil 1990

    I wasn't in a huge hurry to get to my August arcs, but then I read a few reviews of this one and was all about making it a priority. Once again, I have discovered a book that is a contender for

    Set in early 20th century Michigan, Mary Dora Russell introduces readers to the struggles of the union movement against the copper mining industry and the intriguing story of one of its leaders, Big Annie Klobuchar Clements aka "America's Joan of Arc." Annie and the other women who have watched their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers become casualties in the mining companies one man drill operation either by losing their lives or permanently disabled have had enough. In 1913, they push for a union strike and while the smaller companies are willing to give into worker demands, one particular mining boss refuses to back down. As the months pass, there will be many trials, tribulations and tragedies along the way.

    A few decades later than this story, my maternal grandfather was a miner and thankfully he nor any of the men he worked with were seriously injured or lost their lives during his lengthy career. But having learned much about mining in both Canada and the United States, there's no doubt that it's a dangerous industry especially when business overlooks the safety of the workers.

    Mary Dora Russell's novel is a good reminder of what the miners and their families had to do in order to have better working conditions. This novel is well written, researched, and with the inclusion of the Italian Hall tragedy of 1913, a heartbreaking and powerful story. An important part of American history that shouldn't be overlooked!

    Expected publication 06/08/19

    Goodreads Review published 04/07/19

  • Sue

    This is why I read historical fiction. To be taken back to a time that I don’t truly understand and to learn about the people and events. This can only happen when the author combines excellent research with an ability to tell a story in a lucid, interesting and inspiring way. Mary Doria Russell has certainly accomplished this and The Women of the Copper Country is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

    The setting for this novel is the company town of Calumet Michigan, site of a major

    This is why I read historical fiction. To be taken back to a time that I don’t truly understand and to learn about the people and events. This can only happen when the author combines excellent research with an ability to tell a story in a lucid, interesting and inspiring way. Mary Doria Russell has certainly accomplished this and The Women of the Copper Country is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

    The setting for this novel is the company town of Calumet Michigan, site of a major copper mine. What happens during this novel is the butting of heads of a fledgling union and entrenched management. We see all that happens through multiple participants, miners, their families, union organizers, company men, management, newsmen.

    Through information provided in the afterword, we learn how much of this book is, or is very close to, fact. And that is a lot. I was unfamiliar with this particular history and wondered a bit as I read, but there is such an air of authenticity and authority that I felt comfortable. And most of us of a certain age have heard something of Mother Jones! I had never heard of Annie Clements before. I now would like to know as much as possible about the real woman. This would be an excellent novel for high school students, perhaps, to excite them about the past and how it influences our present and the future. For issues of workers’ rights vs owners’ overwhelming wealth continue.

    A definite 5* and highly recommended.

    A copy of this book was provided by Atria Books through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  • Beata

    I have often come across the reviews by my Friends of Ms Russell's novels over some time now, and they are full of praise for her writing. Now I can fully comprehend why .... The Women of the Copper Country swept me of my feet, and I am certain this will be one of my top books of this year.

    I never heard of the Copper Country or Big Annie, but now I am proud to have become part of the community who while reading felt for the miners and their families, who could learn about their tragic experience

    I have often come across the reviews by my Friends of Ms Russell's novels over some time now, and they are full of praise for her writing. Now I can fully comprehend why .... The Women of the Copper Country swept me of my feet, and I am certain this will be one of my top books of this year.

    I never heard of the Copper Country or Big Annie, but now I am proud to have become part of the community who while reading felt for the miners and their families, who could learn about their tragic experience, and who probably benefit, perhaps indirectly but still, from Annie Clements and her followers' fight and spirit.

    This is one of those novels that engage readers fully through the writing style and character development, and which leave a trace in their hearts.

    A historical fiction about the union struggle against the oppressive working conditions turned out to be unputdownable for me. Thank you, Ms Russell, for this magnificent and powerful novel that moved me deeply so much .....

  • Diane S ☔

    4.5 Such amazing courage in the face of unbeatable odds. That's what my thought was when I finished this book. A twenty five year old Roman who took on a copper Baron. The year was 1913 and changes were coming to the mine, but not good ones. One man drills were not only dangerous but would cost many men their jobs. The company owned them, here in Calumet on the peninsula of Michigan. Owned their houses, the stores, the banks and almost everything within view. A death, will be the impetus to stri

    4.5 Such amazing courage in the face of unbeatable odds. That's what my thought was when I finished this book. A twenty five year old Roman who took on a copper Baron. The year was 1913 and changes were coming to the mine, but not good ones. One man drills were not only dangerous but would cost many men their jobs. The company owned them, here in Calumet on the peninsula of Michigan. Owned their houses, the stores, the banks and almost everything within view. A death, will be the impetus to strike, and to strike now.

    We will meet Mother Jones whose indefatigable spirit will lend support and money. A Union organizers, and a photographer, and another woman who comes from afar, to support and bring a fresh infusion of cash. Most of all, we will meet Annie, and many other strong, amazing women. A grim novel, some scenes touch the heart, but all history isn't pretty. Most isn't. We meet a man without a heart or a soul.

    Incredibly well researched, something this author is noted for, it brings us a time when workers had little power. I think sometimes we forget the horror these early unionizers went through to insure we were treated fair by employers. Strikes that led to changes in labor laws. Just like the women who fought to bring women the vote, these women, these workers should always be remembered.

    Another one Angela, Esil and I all agreed on.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Esil

    An enthusiastic 4 stars!

    As far as I’m concerned, good historical fiction does not romanticize or trivialize real historical events, but rather uses fiction as a way to bring history to life. The Women of the Copper Country really hit the mark. The novel focuses on a mining strike in Northern Michigan in 1913 as mostly seen through the eyes of the women of the town. Specifically, the story focuses on Annie Clements — known as Big Annie — who was the head of the Women’s Auxiliary and instrumental

    An enthusiastic 4 stars!

    As far as I’m concerned, good historical fiction does not romanticize or trivialize real historical events, but rather uses fiction as a way to bring history to life. The Women of the Copper Country really hit the mark. The novel focuses on a mining strike in Northern Michigan in 1913 as mostly seen through the eyes of the women of the town. Specifically, the story focuses on Annie Clements — known as Big Annie — who was the head of the Women’s Auxiliary and instrumental in getting the strike going. Annie was a real person, and the author clearly did a lot of research about her life and the strike. This is not a happy story — because it’s based on a difficult historical time and because this author does not romanticize what happened to Annie and others. But it’s not all bleak — the story really highlights the role and strength of women involved in the labour movement and it brings home the dramatic improvements in working conditions over the last 100 years — with perhaps a warning to be careful not to backslide. And I should mention that the writing was excellent. This was my first but won’t be my last book by this author. This was a great buddy read with Angela and Diane. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Karen

    Based on the real life of “America’s Joan of Arc” Annie Clements. 23 years old, she witnessed the injustices of the copper mining business in her town of Calumet in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and she formed The Women’s Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners and actively participated in the Copper County Strike of 1913-1914. The miners were working for a dollar a day in very hazardous conditions, many losses of life.

    I had no idea of these happenings or of the town and that it was such a dr

    Based on the real life of “America’s Joan of Arc” Annie Clements. 23 years old, she witnessed the injustices of the copper mining business in her town of Calumet in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and she formed The Women’s Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners and actively participated in the Copper County Strike of 1913-1914. The miners were working for a dollar a day in very hazardous conditions, many losses of life.

    I had no idea of these happenings or of the town and that it was such a draw for immigrants to come to for work. The population in Calumet Township area was 40,000 during those years... now in Calumet the population is barely 800.

    Being a life long Michigander, I was very interested in this book and though I did enjoy it, I had to take a lot of breaks from it because it was so detailed.

  • Chrissie

    This is a book of historical fiction, and as such it is very good. It is about the Copper Country Strike of 1913-1914 as it played out at Calumet & Hecla Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. The strike was organized by the Western Federation of Miners labor union. An 8-hour day, a minimum wage of $3 per day, an end to the use of the one-man pneumatic drill and that companies must recognize the union as the employees’ representative were demanded. A strike is a collective effort, and as such

    This is a book of historical fiction, and as such it is very good. It is about the Copper Country Strike of 1913-1914 as it played out at Calumet & Hecla Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. The strike was organized by the Western Federation of Miners labor union. An 8-hour day, a minimum wage of $3 per day, an end to the use of the one-man pneumatic drill and that companies must recognize the union as the employees’ representative were demanded. A strike is a collective effort, and as such it involves many individuals.

    While the characters are many, they are all given form and substance. The majority existed in reality, some are fictional, and a few are conglomerate figures where two real people are merged into one. An author’s note at the book’s end clarifies this and specifies which events have been altered. Did I come to feel close to any one character? Maybe, for a short time, but then the focus would shift. James MacNaughton is a figure you will come to despise. This guy did actually exist! The book is about the strike itself, what led to it, how it played out and the

    that took part in it. Women, quite a number of women, played an influential role in what happened. That it is so is made clear in the book’s title.

    The writing is excellent. Historical details are presented in an engaging manner, never dumped on the reader in bucket-loads. Facts are clearly presented. Dialogs, some based on what real life characters have said and others imagined, feel genuine. What is said is well expressed—sometimes bringing a tear to your eye, sometimes making you smile.

    Cassandra Campbell narrates the audiobook. She reads it very well. She uses different intonations and accents for different characters. There are many immigrants in the story. Their dialects are convincingly portrayed. I liked the narration a lot and so have given the performance a four star rating.

    If the history of unions interests you, I heartily recommend this book.

    As I read, I wanted to go back to available source material. The information provided below DOES contain spoilers.

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