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Fate Morelandís Widow    by John Lane Amazon.com order for
Fate Morelandís Widow
by John Lane
Order:  USA  Can
Mercer University Press, 2021 (2021)

* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Union activists are trying to organize cotton mill workers in South Carolina in 1935. The mill's owner, a man who inherited his position from his grandfather and father, enjoys his entitlement but fails to show much competence or get useful help from his family, according to his clerk, Ben. Ben tells us the story from his front porch years later.

Mixed in with the tension the unionists' cause is a murder charge brought against the owner for carelessly using his boat and causing the death of three people. The workers in the small town and beyond are definitely riled up, and young Ben, whose roots are with them but whose salary comes from the owner, is a reluctant participant in the action to save his boss.

This very interesting story depicts the hard life of those who had no other choice but to seek work in the mill. Living off the land was not an option - it was not fertile enough for families to make money from their efforts. Through Ben's narration we view the pivotal scenes in wonderful detail, meet characters who ring true (except for maybe the widow) and come to see flaws in both workers and owner, which lends an unexpected ambiguity to all.

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