Strong-willed, self-reliant Gertie Nevel's peaceful life in the Kentucky hills was devastated by the brutal winds of change. Uprooted form their backwoods home, she and her family were thrust into the confusion and chaos of wartime Detroit. And in a pitiless world of unendurable poverty, Gertie would battle fiercely and relentlessly to protect those things she held most precious--her children, her heritage...and her triumphant ability to create beauty in the suffocating shadow of ugliness and despair.
It took me a couple of days after the announcement of Detroit's very close brush with complete bankruptcy to remember Harriette Arnow's novel about life in Motor City during the Second World War, The Dollmaker. First published in 1954, the story centers on Gertie, a strong, capable woman who moves with her husband and children to Detroit so he can work in the war industry. As a gripping story of what it was like to move from … more
Gertie Nevels is a woman meant to live out her days on the land in Kentucky, all her dreams for her children tied up in the predictability of hard work, where abject poverty is ameliorated by fresh vegetables and harvested crops, self-sufficiency the rule the family lives by. But industrialization has hit the country, jobs scarce, the cities calling workers with the promise of a weekly paycheck, food on the table and a company roof over their heads. For men like Clovis Nevels, this opportunity is … more