Triangle

Katharine Weber, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (242p) ISBN 978-0-374-28142-7

The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 workers, most of them women, and galvanized efforts to reform working conditions in sweatshops. In Esther Gottesfeld, the last remaining survivor of the Triangle fire, Weber (The Little Women ) creates a believable and memorable witness to the horrors of that day. Esther managed to escape, but her fiancé, Sam, and her sister, Pauline, both perished in the blaze. In 2001, Esther is living in a New York Jewish retirement home, visited often by her beloved granddaughter Rebecca and Rebecca's longtime partner, George Botkin. Rebecca and George's story and quirky rapport take up half of the book, and descriptions of George's music provide a needed counterpoint to the harrowing accounts of the fire and its aftermath. But Ruth Zion, a humorless but perceptive feminist scholar, sees inconsistencies in Esther's story and determines to ferret them out through repeated interviews with Esther and, after her death, with Rebecca. The novel carefully, and wrenchingly, allows both the reader and Rebecca to discover the secret truth about Esther and the Triangle without spelling it out; it is a truth that brings home the real sufferings of factory life as well as the human capacity to tell the stories we want to hear. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-9475-0
Hardcover - 978-0-7862-8977-6
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-312-42614-9
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