This is my fourth Shreve book and my favorite so far (coming in second is The Weight of Water). I picked this up at a booksale and read it for Something About Me. While I like Shreve’s writing, for some reason I wouldn’t buy her books at a regular book store. I always seem to pass her up for Piccoult.
Anyway, this book is about a number of characters who are drastically different from one another but manage to come together for a common cause. The book takes place during 1929-1930–the first difference from the other books I’ve read which are more contemporary–and follows each of the main characters instead of a select two or so–which is also different. Among the characters there is Honora, the naive young wife of Sexton who is not always entirely honest. McDermott, a lower class factory worker who takes in the young Alphonse under his wing. And Vivian, an upperclass socialite who gets mixed in with the others at first just for something to do.
The social setting is obviously the depression, but also the factory mills of the Northeast where many of the characters work. The conditions are abysmal and the workers want change and a better life when that doesn’t seem to be a possibility for anyone. Other than required non-fiction reading in college, I haven’t really read anything about this specific time period and while the book was more about the lives of the characters rather than the politics (although they were present), the topics made the book an interesting read. I read this while at the in-laws for Thanksgiving and sped right through it. I would recommend it as a quick, light read–especially if you enjoy Shreve’s books.