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The Last Ballad: A Novel von Wiley Cash
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The Last Ballad: A Novel (2018. Auflage)

von Wiley Cash (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
3794251,584 (3.89)73
Winner of the Southern Book Prize for Literary Fiction Named a Best Book of 2017 by the Chicago Public Library and the American Library Association "Wiley Cash reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world." - Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World and Orphan Train The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman's struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash's Serena, Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood. Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill's owners--the newly arrived Goldberg brothers--white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May's best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it's the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find. When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county's biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement--a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town--indeed all that she loves. Seventy-five years later, Ella May's daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929. Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America--and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash's place among our nation's finest writers.… (mehr)
Mitglied:karenandy
Titel:The Last Ballad: A Novel
Autoren:Wiley Cash (Autor)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2018), Edition: Reprint, 416 pages
Sammlungen:Gelesen, aber nicht im Besitz
Bewertung:***1/2
Tags:Keine

Werk-Details

The Last Ballad von Wiley Cash

  1. 00
    Serena von Ron Rash (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These novels set during the Depression explore workers' rights from different perspectives. Serena is violent and dark while The Last Ballad is moving and inspiring; both examine the courage and cowardice of players on each side of the labor movement.… (mehr)
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historic fiction (1929 murder/union-organizing and -busting near Appalachian mountains, North Carolina based on the true story of Ella May Wiggins). I got to page 125 or so; for a murder story this one lacks suspense/interest--I guess I was hoping this would be a little more plot-driven? The characters were complicated and layered, and it is fairly atmospheric as historic novels go, but the skipping from POV to POV was tiresome after a while and I just didn't care to continue reading.
I've heard some people liked Cash's previous books but less so this one, so it may be worth checking out his other novels instead. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
I struggled a little with this rating because I struggled a little with the book. In the first chapter or two, we learn that Ella May, the central character, is murdered. I already liked her and I didn't want to read about her death. But every time I picked up the book, I lost all track of time and inhaled this story. I have a lot more to say, but let me end with this for now: Ella May is a member of my tribe. She's from the Appalachians, she's working in a factory, getting by the best way she knows how. I always say that Ivy Rowe from Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith feels like a member of my family; I'm adding Ella May to the list. I don't have higher praise than that. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 20, 2021 |
This well-written but ultimately depressing novel is based on true events from the battle to unionize North Carolina textile mill workers in 1929.

The book’s main character, Ella May Wiggins, is a young woman with four children to feed and an absent husband. She goes to work in a major textile mill where cotton is processed and spun for weaving, working a 70-hour week for $9. She bangs heads with management when she misses a shift to care for one of her children, who is desperately ill with whooping cough – a disease which had earlier taken one of her babies. The young woman, whose life up to that point had consisted of desperate poverty, grinding labor, and deprivation, is attracted to the burgeoning labor movement, led in Gastonia by Communist party organizers from the North. At first only curious, she is swept into becoming a figurehead of the movement, and ultimately is at its center when a major strike erupts into violence.

Cash creates a number of characters for the book, some based on historical figures, some fictional. His sympathies are largely with Wiggins. He doesn’t refrain from acknowledging that she was used by some of the organizers who saw a sympathetic figurehead just at the time they needed one to get the planned strikes off the ground. In addition, Wiggins lived and worked with African-Americans in one of the only integrated work forces in the region. It’s this association and drive for integration of the union that ultimately drives a wedge into the striking laborers and provides the mill owners with a powerful weapon.

Written in 2017, there are eerie echoes (or foreshadowings) within the rhetoric of both sides. We heard many of these same terms bandied about during 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement. It’s unclear whether the facsimile newspaper pages in the book are Cash’s creations or genuine reproductions, but the anger, the hysteria, the false accusations, and the genuine fear of loss expressed in them could have been printed in any conservative American newspaper (or, more likely, in the Twitterverse) nearly a century after the Gastonia riots. They are rife with accusations of “fake news” and “outside agitators”, and include exhortations to “proud Americans’’ to “stand with us tomorrow and help us put down any insurrection that seeks to overthrow our government and alter our way of life”. In all caps, yet.

Apparently, we haven’t learned much.

Cash uses flashbacks, framing devices, and shifting points of view to unspool his story, so if you don’t want to know on page 48 what happens to Ella on page 360, this may not be the book for you. He also depends heavily on coincidence with some characters weaving their way in and out of the story and appearing just in time for maximum emotional impact.

Minor quibbles aside, this novel throws light on historical events that have largely been ignored or forgotten, and is well worth a read. Just don’t expect to come away from it with a happy heart. ( )
1 abstimmen LyndaInOregon | Dec 23, 2020 |
I did not realize, prior to reading The Last Ballad, that this book is based on a true story. Ella Mae Wiggins is an actual figure in history--a union organizer and balladeer--who lived in the 1900s during the early years of American unions. Wiley Cash breathes life into Ella Mae, describing her struggles with poverty, her strength and determination, and the events that shaped her decision to join the National Textile Workers Union. As someone who once lived in an old factory town, it was fascinating to learn about the women and children working in the textile mills and their historical significance in the fight for workers' rights.

"We leave our homes in the morning
We kiss our children goodbye
While we slave for the bosses
Our children scream and cry

But understand all, workers
Our union they do fear
Let's stand together, workers
And have a union here."

Note: I received an ARC through Goodreads' Giveaways. The Last Ballad is now available in bookstores. ( )
  hianbai | May 28, 2020 |
4.5 stars.

Rich with historical details and based on real life events, The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash shines a much needed light on the National Textile Workers Union attempt to secure better wages and working conditions for textile workers in the south.

In 1929, single mother Ella May Wiggins works twelve hours a day, six days a week at American Mill No. 2. Although she relies on the kindness of her neighbors in Stumpton to help watch over her four children while she is working, her $9 a week paycheck barely covers rent and food for her and her family. After attending a union rally in nearby Gastonia where workers at the Loray Mill are being evicted from their homes after going on strike, Ella becomes an unlikely spokeswoman for the union when she wins over the crowd with her moving life story and recently penned ballad, The Mill Mother’s Lament. Over the next several months, Ella and union organizer Sophia Blevin continue their efforts to integrate Ella's African-American neighbors and co-workers into the National Textile Workers Union. In the deeply segregated South where minorities and women have no voice or rights, Ella's work with the union is dangerous and her attempts to include African-Americans in the fight for better wages culminates in heartbreak.

Growing up in poverty in the NC mountains, Ella marries young and follows her husband, John, from one mill town to another. After the death of their young son, John abandons her and their children and Ella cannot find work anywhere except American Mill No. 2 where whites and African Americans work alongside one another. After coming close to losing her job when she stays home to care for her sick baby, Ella is drawn to the union rally in hopes of improving pay and working conditions for herself and her fellow workers. She is pragmatic and deals with every hardship that comes her way with stoicism yet Ella's love for her children is fierce.

While Ella is the central figure in the unfolding story, the chapters alternate between various points of view. Daughter Lilly's perspective takes place in the present as she shares memories of those long ago days with her nephew, Edwin. Verchel Park's acquaintance with Ella's former husband John has unintended consequences that he only realizes long after their occurrence. The wife of a wealthy mill owner from a neighboring town, Katherine McAdam is drawn to Ella through a shared loss and their unlikely friendship proves to be life saving. African-American train porter Hampton Haywood's family fled Mississippi in fear for their lives and although he now lives in New York, he cannot resist the call to help the union organizers in the South. Disgraced police officer Albert Roach is instrumental in setting in motion the final confrontation that ends with a devastating loss.

The Last Ballad is a meticulously researched novel with a thought-provoking and poignant storyline. Based on factual events, Wiley Cash brings the characters, setting and time period in this compelling story vibrantly to life. Ella May Wiggins' struggles to provide for her family are positively gut wrenching and her impressive efforts to improve working conditions and higher wages are captivating. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this extraordinary novel that highlights a mostly forgotten yet vastly important time in the history of the labor movement.
( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Inspired by the events of an actual textile-mill strike in 1929, Cash (This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014, etc.) creates a vivid picture of one woman’s desperation... Although it is initially a bit difficult to keep so many points of view straight, it is satisfying to see them all connect. It’s refreshing that Cash highlights the struggles of often forgotten heroes and shows how crucial women and African-Americans were in the fight for workers’ rights.

A heartbreaking and beautifully written look at the real people involved in the labor movement.
 
Powerful and poignant, North Carolina author Wiley Cash’s third and best novel tells the story of Ella May...Beyond Ella’s personal story, this is the very best kind of historical novel — one whose events are largely nonfiction, and whose characters, invented though they may be, probably closely resemble the souls who did walk the Earth during that time. Cash is a fine and subtle writer, who tells an American story painful in the way the most authentic American stories are — replete with personal, political, sexual, racial and class strife, yet redeemed by gritty individual and community faith in a better, fairer world.
 

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Wiley CashHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
White, KarenErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Wiley, ElizabethErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Winner of the Southern Book Prize for Literary Fiction Named a Best Book of 2017 by the Chicago Public Library and the American Library Association "Wiley Cash reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world." - Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World and Orphan Train The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman's struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash's Serena, Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood. Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill's owners--the newly arrived Goldberg brothers--white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May's best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it's the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find. When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county's biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement--a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town--indeed all that she loves. Seventy-five years later, Ella May's daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929. Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America--and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash's place among our nation's finest writers.

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