The Women of the Copper Country: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Corporations do not always act in the best interest of their workers.  Nor are they always fair.  Reform, changes in safety, working hours, and pay, have been brought about through hard fights and adversity.  Labor organizers inspired strikes, the companies fought back with violence, sometimes abetted by local law enforcements.  Joe Hill’s name is well known and remembered.  But there were others. 

In 1913 in Calumet Michigan, Annie Clements was married to a rough, often abusive man, a miner who toiled underground where every year men died in accidents.  The companies pushed for more, always more, work harder, work longer, work in unsafe conditions, bring up more product.  Inevitably tragedies ensued. Annie had enough, she organized a strike.  Held parades through town walking at the head, refusing to back down. Her husband is against the strike, doesn’t like his woman out there in public.  Nonetheless, Annie perseveres.  Joined by the women of the town, she organizes, confers with union leaders and does her best.  Through tragedy, injustice, and sacrifice Russell relates the life of this remarkable woman.  Annie didn’t have much success with husbands, so Russell alters the record in a small way to give her a kinder, gentler second husband.  It was nice thing to do, the real Annie would have enjoyed being treated right.  Russell’s story based on Annie’s life is gripping and inspiring. Women like Annie made a difference.

— Deon Stonehouse


From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Sparrow comes an inspiring historical novel about “America’s Joan of Arc” Annie Clements—the courageous woman who started a rebellion by leading a strike against the largest copper mining company in the world.

In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the copper-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.

In Annie’s hands lie the miners’ fortunes and their health, her husband’s wrath over her growing independence, and her own reputation as she faces the threat of prison and discovers a forbidden love. On her fierce quest for justice, Annie will discover just how much she is willing to sacrifice for her own independence and the families of Calumet.

From one of the most versatile writers in contemporary fiction, this novel is an authentic and moving historical portrait of the lives of the men and women of the early 20th century labor movement, and of a turbulent, violent political landscape that may feel startlingly relevant to today.

About the Author

Widely praised for her meticulous research, fine prose, and compelling narrative drive, Mary Doria Russell is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, Dreamers of the Day, Doc, and Epitaph. Dr. Russell holds a PhD in biological anthropology. She lives in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

Praise For…

“Historical fiction that feels uncomfortably relevant today.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Fictionalized history with an important message that will resonate with contemporary readers.”
— Booklist

"Carefully researched . . . . a worthwhile counterpoint to historical writing centered on 'great men.'"
— Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982109585
ISBN-10: 1982109580
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 6th, 2019
Pages: 352