Mary Coin

Mary Coin An NPR Best Book of A BBC Best Book of In her first novel since The God of War the critically acclaimed author Marisa Silver takes Dorothea Lange s Migrant Mother photograph as inspiration

  • Title: Mary Coin
  • Author: Marisa Silver
  • ISBN: 9780399160707
  • Page: 152
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 b 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.

    One thought on “Mary Coin”

    1. Sorry folks. Once again I feel like the skunk at the picnic, but I have to be honestPRESSIONS AFTER 100 PAGES: Marisa Silver has some admirable writing skills. However, this story began to feel like a fictionalized recitation of the life of Florence Owens Thompson, the lady in the 1936 Dorothea Lange photo "Migrant Mother." (The photo has been cropped and colorized for the novel's dustjacket.) Furthermore, the addition of Walker, the modern-day historian, is distracting and superfluous."Recitati [...]

    2. Mary Coin, a novel by Marisa Silver, is one of my favorite novels. Silver takes base elements like poverty, homelessness,dust storms and love and transforms them into a valued amalgam.Mary is part Cherokee, all Okie and tough Her claim to fame as a child is a newspaper picture of her grandfather, an accused murderer, who walks into a burning building rather than face the authorities. Mary learns many lessons from her mother, but the greatest is how to build a foundation. Silver takes us in Mary' [...]

    3. Are you curious about some of the true facts about Dorothy Lange's 1936 iconic photo "Migrant Mother" of Florence Thompson Owens? More photos were taken. Who were these people? Check out this link: jamesaltucher/2011/11/ If you are unacquainted with Lange look here: enpedia/wiki/DorotheaA photograph can say so much, but how much is really true? In this book of fiction, Mary Coin is Florence and Vera Dare is Dorothy Lange.*******************On completion:Intellectually, I liked this book. It gets [...]

    4. Oh, but this was a hugely satisfying read. Speculative fiction? I adore thee.Based on Dorothea Lange's famous photo Migrant Mother, Marisa Silver sets out to imagine the who of both the migrant in the photo and the photographer. The passage of time is so beautifully paced in this story that I think it is damn near perfect. Both women are exceptional- in their struggles, in their self-determination, and in their survival. LOVED.

    5. In a haunting and heartbreaking novel that spans nearly 90 years, Marisa Silver imagines the back story behind the iconic photo, Migrant Mother, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1935. After the death of his beloved, but quite elusive father in 2010, Walker Dodge is left with the task of clearing out the family home, a onerous job for sure, but one that may finally provide some answers to the questions that have always percolated in his mind about his father's background. Why was the old man so secreti [...]

    6. We've all heard someone say that pictures don't lie -- which has always been a distortion of the truth. The earliest photographers learned how to manipulate an image to convey various messages. Pictures can be cropped, colored, or airbrushed to hide or highlight elements of the "truth" and the viewer's perception often depends on factors that go far beyond the factual circumstances of the subject matter. When Dorothea Lange snapped some pictures of a migrant family stranded on the roadside in 19 [...]

    7. It’s a bold concept: take one of the most famous photographs in U.S. history – Migrant Mother, the photo that defined the Great Depression – and reimagine the story of the subject, Florence Owens Thompson (called Mary Coin) and the photographer, Dorothea Lange (dubbed Vera Dare).Whenever an author deals with “faction”, the reader has a decision to make: view it from the prism of history or view it as a fictional creation of the author. I chose the latter. The skeleton facts are all the [...]

    8. I read an article on Marisa Silver in the LA Times and ran out to buy this book. Earlier this year I read Eight Girls Taking Pictures, based on the lives of lesser-known woman photographers, but Dorothea Lange and her photo Migrant Mother have always intrigued me. This beautifully-written book offers a fictional exploration of the lives two women that touch very briefly but with consequences for both women. The third main character, history professor Walker Dodge, is completely fictional and mor [...]

    9. Behind a photo is a world unknown, a passage of time not witnessed by the observer. The famous photo on the cover of this book represents the character that this story has been written of, Mary Coin takes center stage in this story.Thanks to this author we have a snippet of life behind that photo. Her journey, her plight, her love, her marriage, her motherhood and her loss are all described well in this story of Mary Coin.There are two great women at the heart of this story the photographer Vera [...]

    10. I loved this book. It is my kind of book - historical fiction. Set primarily in depression era California, Mary Coin tells the saga of three inter-related people:Mary Coin whose haunting visage was preserved forever in the iconic photograph, Migrant Mother.Vera Dare, the woman who photographed her.Walker Dodge, a present-day professor of cultural history, who discovers a family mystery embedded in the picture.Mary Coin really existed and her picture was really taken. However her real name is Flo [...]

    11. I wish Silver had included an afterward detailing the parts of her story that are based on fact and the parts that came from her imagination. That said, if Walker is her invention and not based on a real person, I would have preferred the novel without him as he has little to do with the story other than the fact he’s an historian. Introducing him as a current day tie-in to the famous photograph only made for disjointed story-telling.Silver writes about the two women during the Great Depressio [...]

    12. OMG. Just finished this stunning beautiful fiction by Marisa Silver. Publishes in March but I was graced with an advanced reading copy. Her best yet and the book that will surely catapult her into national recognition. If the National Book Awards gave their award to beautiful fiction, instead of quirky fiction, this would at least capture a nomination. Gorgeous prose. Fantastically insightful observations on the human condition. Believable and moving characters. A beautifully structured story th [...]

    13. The story of the photograph of “The Migrant Mother” as told by author Marissa Silver absolutely fascinated me. I knew it was a fictionalized account, but I was willing to accept it as quite possibly true. The issues of motherhood and enduring extreme poverty are worthy of a long discussion.At first, the only thing that bothered me was the jumping around of time periods. I wanted to know how old each character was at the time of the various events and the author made me figure that out on my [...]

    14. Actual rating if I was going to judge this book based solely on its entertainment and readability would be 4 stars. But I'm only giving this book 1 star!!!Bear with me while I try to explain this as I'm stepping away from my normal grading scale for this one because something REALLY got under my skin and I refuse to grade this book higher than the one star I need in order to review. (I'll explain that in a bit.)This would be my review if judging this book only by its merit of the writing and the [...]

    15. Maybe halfway through this book, I scanned a few reviews, trying to figure out why it came so highly rated and recommended. But the review that resonated most with my experience reading it ended thusly: "This book is fine for people who enjoy chewing sawdust." OK! Not just me then!The premise is interesting. It's a fictionalized version of the story behind the famous photograph "Migrant Mother." Silver invents a character behind the unknown-to-us mother, the photographer, and other players, but [...]

    16. In the depths of the Great Depression photographer Dorothea Lange was hired to capture the toll on American citizens. Her many photos were sent to Washington in the hopes that politicians would take action to help. Amid all the images of bread lines and field workers, one stood out; Migrant Mother showed a woman holding her baby, two other children clinging to her. That woman wasn’t named but she was Florence Owens Thompson. The power of the image was evident; within weeks of its publication m [...]

    17. This is an excellent book, one of the best three or four novels I'll read this year. Marisa Silver has crafted a first rate story out of what I would have thought was a slim and rather daft idea, basing a novel on an iconic Depression-era photograph. But ideas come from who-knows-where, and as long as there is passion and talent behind them, a lot can achieved. That's what happens with Mary Coin.Silver has constructed a triptych based on two real lives - the photographer Dorothea Lange and the s [...]

    18. I would venture that most of us of an age of 40 or more are aware of the Dorothea Lange 1936 photograph called “Migrant Mother" who was actually Florence Owens Thompson. It has become an iconic image of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression and the migration westward of the families driven from their homes at that time. The photograph, used as the cover of this book, immediately drew me to it. Marisa Silver has imagined the lives behind this image and has drawn a unique vision of that era. Ca [...]

    19. The image on the cover of this book is iconic. I taught The Grapes of Wrath for several years and my students always mentioned this image as exemplifying the experience of the families of The Great Depression.I did have some knowledge of Lange (as a photographer), but only a semblance of what actually happened to this woman as a result of the picture. Silver gives us a realistic storyline of what Coin's life could have become and the complicated feelings she would have had over this image appear [...]

    20. Mary Coin is a fictionalized account of the lives of Florence Owens Thompson and Dorothea Lange, the subject and photographer behind the 1936 Migrant Mother photograph. Silver's novel involves us in the three stories: Walker Dodge (a purely invented character), a modern-day college professor and dissatisfied son and father; Vera Dare, a polio survivor struggling to find herself as an artist and a mother; and Mary Coin, a woman with much more basic struggles as the widowed mother of seven during [...]

    21. My book club discussed this in October. Both NPR and the BBC chose it for a Best Book of 2013, and in its interwoven tale of three characters (one present-day) is a great introduction to the history of migrant laborers in California during the Depression.

    22. As is my custom, I will not give a complete synopsis of this book, but some discussion of the background should suffice. The photo on the front jacket is familiar to many of us. It is a view of awoman of the depression era, a long- suffering, hard- toiling migrant worker. Of interest, the novel is actually inspired by this woman, Florence Thompson, who was “discovered” by photographer, Dorothea Lange.Silver has related this tale by basing it on the difficult existence of Mary Coin, who marri [...]

    23. Every once in awhile, I pick up a book, read the first couple of pages, and instantly know I am going to love it. That is certainly the case with Mary Coin. I was hooked from the very first page.Author Marisa Silver's inspiration for this novel is Dorothea Lange’s iconic depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph. Silver paints a fictional portrait of the photographer (renamed Vera Drake) and her subject (the Mary Coin of the title, standing in for the actual subject, Florence Owens Thomps [...]

    24. While reading books about how terrible life was for migrants in The Depression often depresses me, I gritted my teeth and started into this one. It is an amazing story, but more than that, it poses questions about the relationships between photographs, history, and truth.The entire premise revolves around Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" photograph from the Depression. Silver's fictional woman, Mary Coin, is the woman in the photograph and her life and what she endured during that time is the t [...]

    25. Thorouthly enjoyed this book!Was so drawn into the stories of Mary Coin, and Vera Dare. Riveting. So beautifully imagined.Gained perspective and curiosity about all the topics dealt with in this novel--how it must have felt to be a migrant worker in the '30's in California, how it might have felt to live with a disease like polio.Loved the ending. Loved the way the lives of these people intertwined.I do agree with some of the readers who felt that the character of Walker was not necessary. Howev [...]

    26. I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. I love really good historical fiction: the kind that sheds light on the time in which the book is set and gives the reader a deeper understanding of the lives and motivations of the people in it. Silver took a picture everyone knows and created an intricate, compelling back story peopled with believable and sympathetic characters. I love the way she pulled the stories of three people from completely different backgrounds toge [...]

    27. This is my first foray into the writing of Marisa Silver, and I am overwhelmingly impressed. She takes a moment from history, changes the names of the characters, and creates an intriguing and intensely moving story out of it. The sections are divided between 3 characters: the photographer who took the iconic picture of the woman and her children by the side of the road in 1930s California, the woman whose picture was photographed, and the grandson of a man who owned the land where she at one ti [...]

    28. What did I think? Fantastic! Spectacular! Incredible! Read it, if you haven't!I listened to it on audiobook, but perhaps this one, because it was so good, I would've like to have read it.I read a review of it in the NY Times Book Review when it came out but it got lost in the shuffle for me. It is a real photo and maybe I didn't at the time want to read a made-up fictional story of such a famous photo that signified the extreme poverty of the migrant workers in the 1930's in the United States. H [...]

    29. I loved this book. I wished it had been longer because you know I love a good long book. The writing was well done and I just loved the characters. Something that really spoke to me was the value and impact that one photograph can have. As I raise my teenage daughters in the digital age, the value of photographs is greatly diminished. I take several photos a day, usually of something I want to remember, and my kids communicate almost exclusively through pictures. We take so many pictures that no [...]

    30. 4 1/2 stars: This work of fiction was inspired by the photograph “The Migrant Mother”. The photograph was taken by the Dorothea Lange when she was hired by the government to record what was happening to the migrants during the dust bowl in the 1930’s. The subject of the photograph, Florence Owens Thompson, was a mother of 7 children who happened to be at the side of the rode that Lange drove by. Silver changes their names to Vera Dare (photographer) and Mary Coin (subject). This is novel i [...]

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