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Old 05-15-2018, 01:33 PM   #7
latepaul
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I found this a difficult book to get through, for a couple a reasons. The subject matter was grim but also it felt overly long. (Although I discovered that it was shorter than I'd thought because although Calibre initially estimated the word-count at ~150,000 words, once you take out the index, the bibliography and the notes it's actually around 120,000. )

I'm thinking about how to separate my experience of reading the book, the importance of the underlying story and the way it was told here. I don't read a lot of non-fiction but I would happily have listened to an hour's podcast about the topic, or maybe watched a documentary movie.

I think there were structural issues because you had the New Jersey factory and the Ottawa one, each with their own list of affected people and their own trials. I think it might have been better to focus on one and summarise the other. In fact I think that if you wanted to focus in, Catherine Donaghue - who collapsed in court - was the most compelling individual. That said, the sheer list of people involved did give you a sense of scale that helped you feel the weight of the injustice. But it felt "bitty" to me. There were asides about the lives of characters that we didn't otherwise spend a lot of time on.

So I have some misgivings about the book but I think overall it does what it sets out to do reasonably well - which is to tell the story of some forgotten women and the injustice they suffered.

I'll just have to be honest and say if I'd known how dark this book was I'm not sure I'd have read it. People say life is too short to read badly written books, but what about ones that make you sad? I'm not sure. In theory I want to read about difficult but important topics, in practice I don't choose to do so often.
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