Monday, November 23, 2015



In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America's farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression. (publisher)

Inspired by Migrant Mother, the iconic Depression-era photograph snapped by Dorothea Lange in 1936, Silver reimagines the lives of both the photographer and the subject. Interweaving the stories of Mary Coin , a young mother grappling with the cruel realities of raising a family during an enduring economic crisis, and Vera Dare, the brilliant young photographer facing life-altering decisions of her own, this dual portrait investigates the depths of the human spirit, exposing the inner reserves of will and desire hidden in both women. Though their paths cross for a brief moment, their fates—stretching into succeeding generations—are permanently altered by the meeting. The luminously written, heart-wrenching—yet never maudlin—plot moves back and forth through time, as history professor Walker Dodge unpeels the layers of the photograph’s hidden truths. -- Flanagan, Margaret (Reviewed 02-01-2013) (Booklist, vol 109, number 11, p31)
Publishers Weekly:
/* Starred Review */ Three characters whose lives span 90 years form the core of Silver's gorgeous third novel (after The God of War). Social historian Walker Dodge, as he sorts through the last items of his nearly empty childhood home, discovers a familial link to a famous photograph. Here, a real-life photo taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 becomes a fictional photo taken by Vera Dare of Mary Coin . Silver fills in the untold story behind Lange's photo by revealing Vera and Mary's  lives in vivid detail. Neither woman can reconcile herself with the Depression-era photo, yet they are intimately linked: each has children, husbands who leave them, and battles with cancer. This narrative of mid-century hope, loss, and disenchantment is both universal and deeply personal. Mary's  problem with the truth of history and the stories told through objects leads her to make the hardest decision of her life, one confronted by Walker 75 years later. Silver has managed the difficult task of fleshing out history without glossing over its ugly truths. With writing that is sensual and rich, she shines a light on the parts of personal history not shared and stops time without destroying the moment. Agent: Henry Dunow; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Mar.) --Staff (Reviewed February 25, 2013) (Publishers Weekly, vol 260, issue 08, p)
Library Journal:
/* Starred Review */ Dorothea Lange's legendary photograph of an unknown migrant mother, taken at the height of the Great Depression, is the inspiration for Silver's (The God of War ) superb new novel. The titular character is a reimagining of this Native American mother of seven, with the memorable face that came to symbolize American poverty. Mary , along with Vera Dare, a strong-minded photographer and polio survivor who is forced to abandon her own children, and Walker Dodge, a modern-day history professor with a surprising link to the celebrated photograph, are the mesmerizing novel's three central characters. Silver's acute observations and understated style are evident here as are her matter-of-fact, unapologetic characters. "You'll know who you are when you start losing things," declares one. With only a few known facts of the woman in Lange's photograph, Silver has crafted a highly imaginative story that grabs the reader and won't let go. VERDICT A must-read for Silver fans that is sure to win over many new followers; the acclaimed author's best work to date.— Lisa Block, Atlanta, GA --Lisa Block (Reviewed February 15, 2013) (Library Journal, vol 138, issue 3, p95)

No comments: