Have you ever ever stood on the base of a marble statue or monument and puzzled the place the stone got here from? Who mined it? How that large slab made its approach down mountains, throughout rivers and thru a number of states on its journey from, say, Colorado or Vermont to the Nationwide Mall in Washington? I’ve undoubtedly puzzled who chiseled the commanding but light expression on Martin Luther King Jr.’s face at his memorial in West Potomac Park, however I’ve by no means given a second thought to the supply of the granite he’s carved from.
Kate Manning’s fats, immersive third novel, GILDED MOUNTAIN (Scribner, 464 pp., $28), not solely transfixed me over the course of three days and a field of Cheez-Its, it additionally supplied a late-breaking appreciation for the backbreaking work of marble mining. We see the trade by the eyes of Sylvie Pelletier, a teen who, in 1907, strikes together with her mom and two brothers from Rutland, Vt., to the fictional city of Moonstone, Colo., the place her father has been “digging out the world’s most interesting grade of pure white marble” as a quarryman for Padgett Gasoline and Stone Firm. He’s been there for 2 years, after being ushered out of New England “on the level of a gun” for agitating on behalf of granite employees.
In Moonstone, the Pelletiers encounter situations so horrific, their lives are in fixed hazard — at the same time as they go to highschool and work, as they fill a bucket with snow to warmth on the range for tea. Quarry staff and their households are shunted off to frigid huts perched on the facet of Dogtooth Mountain, reachable by way of treacherous paths carved by the snow. Newspapers are stuffed into cracks of their partitions, and snow dusts their meager furnishings. Plumbing and electrical energy are as scarce as security precautions within the mine itself. Which is to say, they’re nonexistent.
The household gamely units up a life. (Virtually too gamely; typically their dialogue veers from plucky to cloying.) Sylvie will get a job at The Moonstone Metropolis Document, the place her boss is Okay.T. Redmond, a brash redheaded newspaperwoman who (horrors!) doesn’t put on a hat or give a hoot about what folks consider her progressive opinions. She is going to, after all, open Sylvie’s eyes to the greed and energy that forged mountain-size shadows over every part Padgett Gasoline and Stone touches.
However first: Our impressionable protagonist lands a summer-long gig as secretary to Madame la Comtesse Ingeborg LaFollette deChassy Padgett, Belgian spouse of Duke Padgett, the robber baron who constructed a mansion referred to as Elkhorne, and furnished it with pianos and mahogany trimmings carried into city by mule. These usually are not good or trustworthy folks, however Sylvie is understandably dazzled by their bounty — and by Jasper, the duke’s son from a earlier marriage, who’s nowhere close to as attention-grabbing as she thinks he’s. (If this e-book have been set on Nantucket, he’d be an funding banker’s son in pink shorts, canoodling with an au pair earlier than high-tailing it again to boarding college.)