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Review: Baker Towers

By Bookaholic @BookReflections
Review: Baker Towers
Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 330 (paperback)
Source: TLC Book tours
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Baker Towers
Description from Publisher's Weekly:
The second novel by the author of the award-winning Mrs. Kimble depicts life in a postwar Pennsylvania mining town and continues Haigh's exploration of the hardships of women's lives. In the town of Bakerton, dominated by the towers of the title (made of slowly combusting piles of scrap coal), poor families live in ethnic enclaves of company houses. Italian Rose Novak broke with tradition by marrying a Polish man, but he dies in the book's first chapter, and Rose and her five children struggle through the years that follow. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
My Rating: Review: Baker Towers
My Review:
The story starts with the beginnings of a Pennsylvania mining town and ends when the town starts a new beginning.  The reader follows the Novak family during that period of time.  Rose and her children George, Dorothy, Joyce, Sandy, and Lucy discover life inside and outside of Bakerton.  Although most of the children can't wait to escape the mining town, the find themselves drawn back time and time again.  Starting with their father's death, the family find themselves facing a life where the only certainty is the small company house that they all called home at some point.
This book was a bit difficult for me to get into but when I did, I really enjoyed it.  The story follows all the family members of the Novak family but jumps from person to person with no real introduction and skips long periods of time.  Sometimes I would read full paragraphs without knowing from which point of view I was reading and where their particular story was set. This was frustrating but I soon became accustomed to this style.  As I got to know the characters better, it became easier to ascertain.  The reading and the story became smooth sailing after that.  I enjoyed the trip through time, following one family as it expanded over the years.  This book is character driven and I enjoyed following as each character's personality, quirks, and story unfolded. They were extremely well-written.  I often wondered how the story would end since there wasn't much of a plot.  It seemed that the book moved just by the passage of time, but when I got to the end, it made it a bit more sense to me.  I thought the wrap-up and ending was quite perfect and satisfying.
Ahhh if it all sound so vague, perhaps it is because this book is about the ups and downs of life and saying more would spoil it for many.  This reminds me of a Maeve Binchy novel in it's organization and style.  Though the community aspect is present, it doesn't have the same homey feel. Once I got to know the characters, I was very invested in this book and couldn't put it down.
Books that are mostly character driven and those that are plot driven can be such different reads!  Which do you find you prefer more?
Review: Baker Towers

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