Tuesday 27 September 2022

Mary Coin

Finished August 31
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

This novel was inspired by the cover picture. Taken by Dorothea Lange, and called Migrant Mother, the photograph of Florence Owens Thompson became famous and opened many doors for Lange. The author creates a fictional woman, Mary Coin, as the subject of this photo and the novel follows Mary from her childhood through her marriage, her travels in search of employment, up until the moment of the photograph. It also follows the photographer, here named Vera Dare Everett, as she too marries, has children, and tries to create her own career through her art. 
Staying relatively closely to the real facts of the women's lives, Silver brings them to life by letting us see inside their thoughts, their motivations, and their drive to live as they want, as they must. She tells the larger story of the Depression in America and the desperate search for jobs to feed oneself and one's family, from a uniquely female viewpoint.
Tying it all together is a man in the current day, an anthropology professor named Walker Dodge. Walker's specialty is the study of common people and their lives. He looks at diaries, official records, ephemera, and relics of their lives as he pieces together how they lived. Walker loses his father near the beginning of the book, and as he cleans out the house, he finds boxes of papers in the basement and begins to treat the situation as a case study from his own work perspective. His research leads him to these women, and that key connection point with its resulting fame.
She also looks at the aftermath, Vera's fame and further career, what happened to Mary and her children, and how that small connection became an important moment in both their lives. 
An amazing story of two women forging their lives during a difficult time, told with realism and compassion, and the serendipity of life and the chance meetings that change lives.  

No comments:

Post a Comment