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Katherine Weber
Adult Fiction WEBER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 workers, most of them women, and galvanized efforts to reform working conditions in sweatshops. In Esther Gottesfeld, the last remaining survivor of the Triangle fire, Weber (The Little Women) creates a believable and memorable witness to the horrors of that day. Esther managed to escape, but her fianc?, Sam, and her sister, Pauline, both perished in the blaze. In 2001, Esther is living in a New York Jewish retirement home, visited often by her beloved granddaughter Rebecca and Rebecca's longtime partner, George Botkin. Rebecca and George's story and quirky rapport take up half of the book, and descriptions of George's music provide a needed counterpoint to the harrowing accounts of the fire and its aftermath. But Ruth Zion, a humorless but perceptive feminist scholar, sees inconsistencies in Esther's story and determines to ferret them out through repeated interviews with Esther and, after her death, with Rebecca. The novel carefully, and wrenchingly, allows both the reader and Rebecca to discover the secret truth about Esther and the Triangle without spelling it out; it is a truth that brings home the real sufferings of factory life as well as the human capacity to tell the stories we want to hear. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Esther Gottesfeld has been famous most of her life, because in 1911, when she was just 16, she escaped the tragic Triangle Waist Company fire when so many others perished. Decades later, Esther, sarcastic and feisty, is interviewed by an irritating feminist researcher, Ruth Zion, whose questions probe lurid personal details of the tragedy. Esther's death at age 106 comes just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, an event Weber (The Music Lesson) skillfully weaves into Esther's story. Granddaughter Rebecca must decipher the puzzling contents of Esther's safety deposit box while Ruth continues prying because of discrepancies in Esther's telling and retelling of what happened the day of the fire. Rebecca turns to her eccentric boyfriend, George Botkin, an experimental music composer, who helps put the pieces together. He composes the Triangle Overture, an ambitious, bold, and complex finale that Weber imaginatively uses to tie up the reminiscences, flashbacks, and trial testimony revolving around locked doors and crooked building inspectors. Weber demonstrates her deep understanding of her characters in this beautiful novel perfectly introduced by Robert Pinsky's poem "Shirt." Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Esther Gottesfeld
Age: 106
Survived the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; her fiance and sister perished in the fire; living in a Jewish retirement home.

Rebecca Gottesfeld
Esther's granddaughter; searching for the truth of what really happened the day of the factory fire.

George Botkin
Rebecca's longtime partner.

Ruth Zion
Feminist scholar; sees inconsistencies in Esther's account of the fire.

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