Mary Coin

Hardcover | July 29, 2014

byMarisa Silver

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*An NPR Best Book of 2013*
*A BBC Best Book of 2013*
 

In her first novel since The God of War, the critically acclaimed author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photograph as inspiration for a breathtaking reinvention—a story of two women, one famous and one forgotten, and of the remarkable legacy of their chance encounter.

In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in Central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America’s farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression.

Three vibrant characters anchor the narrative of Mary Coin. Mary, the migrant mother herself, who emerges as a woman with deep reserves of courage and nerve, with private passions and carefully-guarded secrets. Vera Dare, the photographer wrestling with creative ambition who makes the choice to leave her children in order to pursue her work. And Walker Dodge, a present-day professor of cultural history, who discovers a family mystery embedded in the picture. In luminous, exquisitely rendered prose, Silver creates an extraordinary tale from a brief moment in history, and reminds us that although a great photograph can capture the essence of a moment, it only scratches the surface of a life.

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“In the eyes of the world, the woman in the iconic photo called Migrant Mother has become a symbol of the devastation of the Great Depression. But outside of the instant of the picture, what was her life? Who was the baby in her arms? What was behind her eyes? In Mary Coin, Marisa Silver imagines a life for that mother, for the photographer...

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From the Publisher

*An NPR Best Book of 2013**A BBC Best Book of 2013*  In her first novel since The God of War, the critically acclaimed author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photograph as inspiration for a breathtaking reinvention—a story of two women, one famous and one forgotten, and of the remarkable legacy of their chance encounter.In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in...

Marisa Silver is the author of the novels The God of War (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist) and No Direction Home; and two story collections, Alone With You and Babe in Paradise (a New York Times Notable Book and Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year). She lives in Los Angeles.

other books by Marisa Silver

Alone With You: Stories
Alone With You: Stories

Paperback|Apr 5 2011

$15.00

Little Nothing
Little Nothing

Kobo ebook|Sep 13 2016

$18.99

The God of War: A Novel
The God of War: A Novel

Kobo ebook|Apr 29 2008

$16.99

see all books by Marisa Silver
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.27 × 6.33 × 1.16 inPublished:July 29, 2014Publisher:Blue Rider PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399160701

ISBN - 13:9780399160707

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mary Coin A Novel A good story but not ond.
Date published: 2014-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful story Thoroughly enjoyed Marisa Silver's story of looking deeper into a photo and the real story behind it. I am always drawn to early 1900s Canadian & American history and how much has changed in a short 100 yrs. This story reminded me of Half broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, one of my favourites. Mary Coin has been added to my top favourite list!
Date published: 2013-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mary Coin Great read. I liked the structure of this book- with the story told using the the three main characters. The author goes back and forth from 1920 to 2011 smoothly tying the stories of these three people together.
Date published: 2013-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mary Coin Excellent novel. Quick read.
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mary Coin Excellent novel. Quick read.
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mary Coin "What are the real lives of people surrounding the big facts of history?" —Marisa Silver In the middle of the Great Depression, photographer Dorothea Lange worked for the United States government documenting the circumstances of migrant workers. In Mary Coin, Marisa Silver tells a fictionalized story based on the real lives of people in a famous Lange photograph: Migrant Mother. Silver's version of the story spans a century and intersects the lives of three main characters: Mary Coin, a mixed-race mother who must raise her children in hard times; Vera Dare, a photographer who captures fleeting moments and turns them into history; and Walker Dodge, a professor whose passion for the minutia of the past leads to an intriguing discovery. Mary Coin's mother, Doris, is another influential character, and her actions as a mother lay the groundwork for an important decision Mary makes later in the book. Mary Coin touches on big life themes: motherhood, loss, sex, economic disparity, and the law of unintended consequences. Silver handles weighty subjects with a subtle touch, so the story doesn't feel oppressive. She handles the light moments with strong writing, so messages don't pass unnoticed. I'm a fan of historical fiction and stories that grow out of a seed of truth, so the "realness" of this fictional book appealed to me. Silver's skill as a storyteller made it compelling reading.
Date published: 2013-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! “In the eyes of the world, the woman in the iconic photo called Migrant Mother has become a symbol of the devastation of the Great Depression. But outside of the instant of the picture, what was her life? Who was the baby in her arms? What was behind her eyes? In Mary Coin, Marisa Silver imagines a life for that mother, for the photographer, and for the modern historian who is drawn into their story. Mary Coin is not Florence Owens Thompson, the real migrant mother, and the fictional Vera Dare is not the photographer Dorothea Lange, but in Silver’s hands the timeless truth of their stories shines through. Mary Coin is a stunning portrait of perseverance, yearning, and bravery. In the lives of both Mary and Vera we see the persistence of a mother’s love in the face of relentless adversity, and how bravery isn’t found in one grand gesture, but in a thousand small choices made every day. Silver’s voice which truly channels Steinbeck’s is immediate, compassionate, and modern, yet timeless enough to take in the scope of the twentieth century without feeling out of place. She brilliantly captures the longing we all have to fully understand the ones we love, and the heartbreak in understanding that we never can. My favourite book this month and the perfect Mother’s Day gift.”
Date published: 2013-04-22

Extra Content

Read from the Book

At first she thought someone had released a flock of birds into the room. The museum gallery whispered with the sound of wings and flight and she thought of the starlings wheeling through the flat Oklahoma sky, a solid flag of them waving in the currents of a wind. Was that seventy years ago? More?... A child’s cry broke through. Mary, always keen to a child’s distress, turned towards the sound. And there, across the room, hung the familiar charcoal gray shapes of the image that shadowed her life…. The gallery had grown quieter and, for a moment, Mary was alone with the picture. She saw her reflection in the glass. There they were. Two women named Mary Coin. If they met on the street in the high heat of a summer’s afternoon, they would be polite in the old fashioned way to show they meant one another no harm. “Hello,” they would say in passing. “My, but isn’t it a wretched day?”