Baker Towers: A Novel (Paperback)
In a stunning follow-up to her best-selling debut, Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh′s second novel, BAKER TOWERS, is a compelling story of love and loss in a western Pennsylvania mining town in the years after World War II.
Bakerton is a company town, built on coal; a town of church festivals and ethnic neighborhoods, hunters′ breakfasts and firemen′s parades. Its children are raised in company houses - three rooms upstairs, three rooms down. Its ball club leads the coal company league. The twelve Baker mines offer good union jobs, and the looming black piles of mine dirt don′t bother anyone. Called Baker Towers, they are local landmarks, clear evidence that the mines are booming. Baker Towers mean good wages and meat on the table, two weeks′ paid vacation and presents under the Christmas tree.
The mines were not named for Bakerton; Bakerton was named for the mines. This is an important distinction. It explains the order of things.
Born and raised on Bakerton′s Polish Hill, the five Novak children come of age in wartime, a thrilling moment when the world seems on the verge of changing forever. The oldest, Georgie, serves on a mine sweeper in the South Pacific and glimpses life beyond Bakerton, a promising future he is determined to secure at all costs. His sister Dorothy, a fragile beauty, takes a wartime job in Washington D.C. and finds herself unprepared for city life. Brilliant Joyce longs to devote herself to something of consequence but instead becomes the family′s keystone, bitterly aware of the opportunities she might have had elsewhere. Her brother Sandy sails through life on looks and charm, and Lucy, the volatile baby, devours the family′s attention and develops a bottomless appetite for love.
BAKER TOWERS is a family saga and a love story, a hymn to a time and place long gone, to America′s industrial past and the men and women we now call the Greatest Generation. This is a feat of imagination from an extraordinary new voice in American fiction, a writer of enormous power and skill.
“The living, breathing organism that is Haigh’s captivating book… [is an] effortlessly haunting story… [Haigh is] an expert natural storyteller.”
“Jennifer Haigh’s ambitious, elegiac second novel, Baker Towers [is]… a rich portrait of place.”
“An elegant, elegiac multigenerational saga. . . . Almost mythic in its ambition, somewhere between Oates and Updike country, and thoroughly satisfying.”
“[Haigh] writes convincingly of family and small town relations, as well as of the intractable frustrations of American poverty.”
“Jennifer Haigh stakes a claim for a major breakout.”
“In clean, authoritative prose, Haigh uncannily injects new life into an era too often entombed by nostalgia.”
“A good old-fashioned read... the author deftly evokes the particulars of a time and place.”
“Haigh’s writing is rich and mellifluous, and her story certainly has an old-fashioned charm and dignity to it.”
“A work that is quickly boosting [Haigh’s] ascension to the vanguard of 21st century American novelists.”