Mary Coin

Mary Coin

by Marisa Silver

Overview: Bestselling author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph as inspiration for a story of two women—one famous and one forgotten—and their remarkable chance encounter.

In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of the road in central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting migrant laborers in search of work. Few personal details are exchanged and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced one of the most iconic images of the Great Depression. In present day, Walker Dodge, a professor of cultural history, stumbles upon a family secret embedded in the now-famous picture. In luminous prose, Silver creates an extraordinary tale from a brief event in history and its repercussions throughout the decades that follow—a reminder that a great photograph captures the essence of a moment yet only scratches the surface of a life.

Faith Bowers (11/05/15):Mary Coin grows up in Oklahoma and marries a sickly neighbor farmer man. They move to CA for the lumbering in the middle of having 6 kids. They have a place to live family near by and all seems well for hardworking people. The 1930s Depression starts and they become migrant pickers. Her husband dies from TB after the sixth child is born. Mary learns quickly to be a good picker and not pick cotton. She has their car which keeps them afloat and independent enough to feed her children. In 1934 she picks at the Dodge Citrus farm and Charlie Dodge has relations with Mary and a child is produced.

The other story is Vera Dare the photographer of the famous picture of a woman migrant worker with two of her children.

The third story is Walker Dodge who is a sociologist who's own family split apart due to his work priorities over helping with his children.

Though the story is fiction it gives perspective over three types of families and the issues of work and child rearing. They are interrelated because of the photograph but also tell tales of the Great Depression and the different socioeconomic stratus of that era. The descriptions of life during this time is excellent and the character development is well done for the three main characters. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it but it was not a favorite. Historical fiction is always of interest to me, regardless of how well it is written. This was my Book club choice voted by the members of our evening 5 times a year book club.
Rating: ****

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