1933 Southwestern Pennsylvania is a hot spot of activity. The coal miners are on strike and the Klu Klux Klan is gaining momentum and both are striking fear into many hearts. The Sweeney family: Fin, Clare, and their three daughters; Deidre, Katie, and Norah are right in the midst of it all. Fin, who coal mines for a living is an angry man who fights for the rights of his fellow miners by day and then takes his anger out on his wife and daughters by night.
Secrets are held within each of the Sweeney women and as each shares their story, you see that what is happening within these stories, mirrors the legend of the 7th century St. Barbara, patron of miners, which plays out annually at the town pageant.
Sometimes…. historical fiction blows me away. I felt as though I had donned my own pair of coal mining boots as I sunk dust deep into this amazing read. This was such a change from what I have been reading so far this year and I enjoyed it so much. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy good historical fiction. And really, who better to tell it? Author Marian Szczepanski whose own grandparents were immigrant miners.
I have a feeling I will be gushing about Playing St. Barbara for some time to come. It was amazing to me, who honestly knew little of this history, how the KKK played a role in what happened. Exasperating, breathtaking, and awe inducing…. Playing ST. Barbara is a must read for lovers of historical fiction novels. I want to say more, but more than that, I want YOU to read this book.
20 thoughts on “Playing St Barbara by Marian Szczepanski”
I sometimes forget how much I love historical fiction, but then I come across a novel that reminds me backwards and forwards and every other which way. I love books like that. This sounds like it would be one of them. Great review. I am definitely adding this one to my wish list.
I forget too… it takes a good one like this to remind me how much I enjoy it 😉
Sounds like a good one! I do love stories from this era….reminders of what life was like before all the modern conveniences, and how daily frustrations and anger could unfurl on family members.
I like learning a little something as I go and this one fulfilled that.
It is so good when you finish a book knowing it will linger on in your memory. To me a sign of a great read 🙂
I love historical fiction. I will need to check this out.
THANKS for your great review. This book sounds fantastic.
It really was. I was just telling a friend about it today over coffee.
I moved from one coal state (Illinois) and wound up in another (Pennsylvania) so this is a book I really want to read. Love historical fiction anyway.
Barbara I think you will really enjoy this one!
I just finished reading this maybe a half hour ago, and wow. I love how each of the characters’ struggles and frustrations come to life as they find their own voices and become empowered to take their destinies into their own hands. I’m originally from a small coal-mining town in Western PA, so reading this made me imagine what life could have been like for my grandparents.
That is cool Grace that you have the connection to coal mining!
I love HistFic but have taken a break from it for a while. This looks like the book to bring me back to it in a big way!
Thanks for being on the tour Sheila!
I think you would enjoy this one Heather – it has great historical facts that blew me away.
This looks like really good historical fiction- well-researched and well written. Thanks for the heads up, I can’t wait to get hold of a copy and get stuck in. 🙂