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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Marrowbone Marble Company

The Marrowbone Marble Company by Glenn Taylor
Ecco, 2010
Adult Fiction

It’s 1941, and Loyal Ledford is a poor orphan working the swing shift at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts Rachel, the boss's daughter, and plans to marry her but when but when Pearl Harbor is attacked, Ledford, like so many young men of his time, enlists and goes to war.

After being injured and returning home, Ledford starts a family with Rachel, but he chafes under the authority at Mann Glass. He is a lost man, disconnected from the present and haunted by his violent past in the war until he meets his cousins, the Bonecutter brothers. Their land, called Marrowbone Cut, calls to Ledford, and it is there, with help from an unlikely bunch, that the Marrowbone Marble Company is slowly forged. Over the next two decades, the factory grounds become a vanguard of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, a home for those intent on change. Such a home inevitably invites trouble, and Ledford must fight for his family.

This book has received several positive reviews, which caused me to add it to my reading list, but the other reviewers must have more patience and fortitude than I have. I liked the good characters and hated the bad characters, as the author intended, but the bad guys were thinly drawn and stereotypical for the most part. Even the good characters, which were fighting the good fight against racism, political corruption and poverty, became a little tiresome in their relentless efforts to make the world a better place. I must make special mention of the Bonecutter brothers, however, who caused me to perk up whenever they entered a scene. Rough and ready, they took care of business they way they saw fit and things got interesting when they showed up.

That being said, I enjoyed the setting of the land called Marrowbone Cut and the uniqueness of a factory that makes marbles. Who knew that marbles and marble playing could be so fascinating? Another interesting theme is the commune that Ledford and his family create in Marrowbone Cut, where black and white people live and work together despite the resistance of local residents. They can manage the community’s negativity in the forties and fifties, but when civil disobedience and unrest comes to the surrounding towns in the sixties, it becomes more than they can handle.

Overall, I found the characters to be melodramatic and predictable, but the plot and setting interesting enough to offset them. Also, be prepared for some slow spots where the action drags a little.

Rating (see below for key):

Other books by this author:
The Battle of Trenchmount Taggart (Vandalia, 2008)

Other books you may like:
Four Freedoms by John Crowley
Mudbound by Hilary Jordan
A Sound Like Thunder by Sonny Brewer

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