Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh

This book has the distinction of having been the first book on my “to read” list on Goodreads since April 5, 2011. I’ve seen its cover taunting me at the top of that (currently 375 items long) list for years and just kept ignoring it. I’d read other books by Haigh and really liked them, so not sure what held me back. Well. This was WONDERFUL. I started it yesterday, got sucked in, and finished it this morning. She has a way of writing that I really enjoy, but is hard for me to describe. I care about the characters, and yet the writing is very matter of fact, laying out what happens to everyone over the span of many many years. There were so many characters to get to know, each with their own story. And of course the whole setting and time were just ripe for making everyone’s lives sound interesting-WWII to the 1960s in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Immigrants living in different sections of town, strong cultural and religious traditions, little Company houses with no  phones (and fairly recent indoor plumbing), men dying at young ages from the back breaking lung blackening work of the coal mines. The focus is on one family and the five children in it. I loved everything about this.

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