Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cotton Mill Girl by Flora Ann Scearce

Link for the book @ publisher:
Paperback $17.99

Link for the book @Amazon:
Paperback $16.19

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises in 2006, 328 pages
Historical Fiction/American History/Cotton Gin/World War I/Coming of Age/Industrial Age/Child Labor

Cotton Mill Girl is actually book 2, the 1st book is entitled Singer of an Empty Day published in 1997.
I have tried to find out if a book 3 has been written, but have been unsuccessful in finding out. I've heard that the author had intended to write a book 3; but as these books have been self-published this could be the reason that there is not a book 3 yet.
I had a nice chat on the telephone yesterday with a librarian at the Gaston Library in North Carolina. In 2007 the author visited this library and held a book signing event. I have tried to do a little more research on this author but have been unsuccessful, I've emailed her but no response yet.
Cotton Mill Girl is based on the author's mother. I don't know what is factual and what is fictional. There are a few photo's in the back of the book and on the cover is the photo of the author's mother.

The heroine/protagonist of Cotton Mill Girl is Selena "Sippy" Burzilla Wright. When the story begins it is early summer 1912. Selena will be 13 the following November. Her mother died when she was 9 and her papa has remarried a woman named Clemmie. Selena has 1 younger sister nicknamed Met, her name is Marietta. "Sippy" or Selena as she prefers and Met had been living with their grandmother and aunt; but their papa has moved to another town and is working in a Cotton Mill along with his new wife. Their papa comes to get them and they travel by train to Gastonia "Boomtown". Selena loves school, she loves her teachers and loves to read and write. Met is a handful for Selena, she is rebellious and defiant. Selena's summer days are spent caring for the house and for Met. Her only escape is the movies with her best friend Doreen. Life is about to change for all of them, Selena will need to mature quickly. Cotton Mill Girl follows the life of Selena from age 12 until age 18.

Cotton Mill Girl is rich in description and imagery, I felt I was "there". All the senses are explored in this novel: the sights, smells, tastes, hearing, and the feeling that something is not right.
During this time period 1912-1918, the Spanish Influenza was undeterred in spreading across the world, often causing death. World War I was beginning and Europe and then America would be involved in this war. The Cotton Mill was a main job for many workers of any age in North Carolina, there were no child labor laws; every able body person was needed to work in order to survive. Education was not enforced nor thought necessary for those of age for working, if you could read and write and figure--then that was enough. This was a time when the entertainments were Church, window shopping, a silent movie, the ice cream parlor, or a box lunch auction.
With all that happened in Selena's life she was resilient, hard working, hopeful, stoic, teachable, wise, passionate, and surely blessed. She did not feel sorry for herself, but persevered onward accepting her life.
There are Scripture and hymn references in this book. Her experience of trusting Jesus as her savior is given. There is nothing in this book that would be unsuitable for an adolescent or adult.
If I had to compare this book to any other books written I would choose those books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Both authors are endearing, they take the reader back to "their" time period with vividness, the heroines are admirable and cause the reader to identify in some way with them.
I have fallen in love with this book and will continually cherish the story of Selena. I am hoping to purchase the first book Singer of an Empty Day from Amazon soon.

I am saddened that a major publishing company did not pick this book up, shame on them, they missed out!

Blissful Reading!


jan parys said...

Thanks Annette for your review. Forwarded this review to Flora Ann, as she is a friend. She has new email address. She may respond if she can figure out how. I hope to do a story on her. She is an extraordinary and godly woman.
I will put some of her story on my blog soon. Jan Parys

Annette said...

Did you see that I reviewed recently Singer of an Empty Day? I love both these books so much. I've befriended Flora Ann on Facebook. I so appreciate you visiting my blog and letting her know about my review. Let me know when she has book #3 published I would love to review that book as well!