This book was written so well, I had to stop to double check the author’s name on the front! It could have easily been composed by Ken Follett or Colleen McCullough. There is history, romance, intrigue, and the setting is authentic. I especially was moved during the suffragette’s parade in Washington, as I read about their high hopes and what actually took place.
It is always interesting to see how an author handles a roman a clef, and Brawer intersperses real and fictional characters seamlessly. The dialogue flows smoothly and there are no awkward transitions that are the hallmark of a less talented author.
Five Stars, November 30, 2014
By Susan Engom "Suzq"
This review is from: Silk Legacy (Kindle Edition)
I found this book very informative as well a captivating read.
This book is so well written that I couldn't put it down. First book I have read by Richard Brawer but certainly will not be the last. Characters are very well developed and pretty correct portrayal of the times and the role family played. I am a third generation American with my paternal grandparents coming from Eastern Europe and so much of this hit home. Including the strikes. GREAT BOOK
By Red Adept Reviews Overall: 5 stars
Plot/Storyline: 5 stars
Good historical fiction teaches us a bit of history while weaving an interesting story told through the experiences of the story's characters, both real and fictional. The author of Silk Legacy, Richard Brawer, did a bang-up job of taking an event--The Great Silk Strike of 1913--which today is just a footnote of history, and making it come alive.
A hundred years ago, the city of Paterson, New Jersey, was the silk-producing capital of the world. More than 300 mills produced vast quantities of silk products from thread to finished fabrics. Workers toiled long hours under wretched conditions for miniscule wages, typical for manufacturing industries of that era. A series of small, poorly-organized strikes failed to bring about change, which ultimately led to the massive strike in 1913.
Silk Legacy was an account of the events leading up to that strike and the five months of the strike itself. During the early 20th century, the small local craft and trade unions were giving way to national organizations like the American Federation of Labor (AFL). During the strike, both the AFL and the IWW (International Workers of the World) fought for control of the striking workers.
Much of the story involved the bitter clash between the AFL, which aimed to get better working conditions and better pay, and the IWW, which advocated a revolution where the workers would seize the factories and get rid of the bosses and owners (i.e., the Marxist Utopia - if you're read Animal Farm or Atlas Shrugged, you know how that turned out).
That's the historical backdrop the story was played out against. The characters included both real and fictional figures. The primary fictional characters were the Bressler family. The relationships between the three Bressler brothers and their families, and their involvement with the strike made for an absorbing page-turner of a novel.
Note: I looked up some of the people and events of the 1913 Paterson strike. As obscure as the event is to us today--almost a hundred years later--there's a lot of information online, including photographs of many historical figures and places in the book. Seeing these photos really made the story come alive. While I was reading Silk Legacy, I kept thinking of the similarities to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, so I wasn't too surprised when Upton Sinclair made a cameo appearance in the story! Red Adept Reviews
Characters: 5 stars
The events of the story were told through the eyes of the Bressler family, who, like many of the mill workers, were recent immigrants who came from Europe to America in search of a better life. Abe Bressler, through shrewdness and hard work, had become a jobber of silk thread and eventually a mill owner. His wife, Sarah, was a good wife and mother, and she became involved in the suffrage movement for women's rights, particularly the right to vote. One of Abraham's brothers, Solomon, worked at a mill and was a union activist, which put the two brothers in conflict, which deeply affected the entire family.
Although fictional, the Bressler family was made up of flesh-and-blood characters. They laughed, loved, argued, fought, and had adulterous affairs.
The majority of the characters, including political leaders, and local, national, and international union leaders, were real people.
Writing style: 5 stars
The writing style was as polished and professional-looking as I've seen. Dialogues were realistic and often served to emphasize the enormity of the conflict and the high stakes involved.
The author clearly did some serious research into the story, and also did a marvelous job of working the fictional characters into the historical story. One of the most interesting aspects of the story was learning about the manufacturing of silk, beginning with imported silkworm cocoons (a single cocoon may yield up to three thousand feet of silk filaments) and going through the entire process, with the silk fabric being woven on huge looms.
A nice touch were the endnotes that gave some historical perspective and tied up some loose historical ends.
"I loved this book. The characters are so real…It is by far the best novel I have read on the Silk Strike of 1913." Angelica Santomauro, director, The American Labor Museum, Botto House Landmark, 83 Norwood Street Haledon, NJ 07508. Pietro Botto's House was a major staging point for labor rallies. Angelica Santomauro is an authority on the labor movement in Paterson during the silk era.
“I was a volunteer docent at the American Labor Museum for 5 years so I am very familiar with your book. Everyone there always bragged that you wrote such a great book about the strike. It was always recommended for people and students as a "must read". The reason why it was recommended to students for research was because it was a good way to engage and absorb them into the nitty gritty of the strike without it being in the usual text book format.”Dorothy D. G.
Richard Brawer, in his epic historical Silk Legacy, takes the reader inside a little-known world of the silk industry. Weaving the history by use of a family that is divided between bosses and lay-workers, he does it as skillfully as the looms themselves wove the finest fabrics of the era. He captures not only the feeling of the era, but does it with warmth and affection through a trying love story. His characters are magnificent. I adored them, in spite—or perhaps because—of their shortcomings.Janet Elaine Smith, author of best-selling, award winning Keith trilogy
"Richard Brawer uses Silk Legacy to demonstrate his remarkable storytelling skills. Vivid and enticing characters reveal themselves in the exciting and realistic backdrop of the labor movement in the early 1900's. Each personality is thoroughly and uniquely drawn, and leaves a lasting impression. The added historical accuracy is an enjoyable bonus. From start to finish, Silk Legacy is simply a wonderful book. Highly recommended."Nancy Morris for Allbooks reviews
"Silk Legacy is a family saga about the struggle for life during hard times and surviving and trusting family. It's one of the most heart-touching stories I have ever read...I haven't just enjoyed this book, I have loved it from the first page 'till the last one. Richard Brawer has written it in a way that makes you feel like you're inside the story, as if you know the characters, as if they are part of your life...Silk Legacy is a book I won't easily forget."Annick for Euro Reviews
“Passion, greed, arrogance and romance abound in this tribulation of yesteryear.” Midwest Book Review
"Silk Legacy is a fast moving, richly detailed saga that traces the struggles of an extended family trying to adapt and succeed in the Golden Land in the early 1900s. A deft story teller with a knack for plot twists, Brawer takes the reader on a classic immigrant’s journey from Latvia to Ireland to New Jersey where his lead character uses any means necessary to cash in on the American dream.... Like a loom weaving strands of yarn to create a multicolored textured fabric, Brawer combines various plot and character elements to create a large, variegated picture of American society at a combustible moment." New Jersey Jewish News
Reviewed by A. J. Cooper for Reader Views (11/06)
"Silk Legacy" is a book based on the production of silk in the early 1900's and the people, rich and poor, involved in the production and ownership of the silk. The book weaves a tale around the main character, Abe, and his family. The silk industry in New Jersey relied completely from immigrants from all over Europe. Needless to say the workers were not paid good wages and worked extremely long hours. For families to survive, even the children were subjected to the long hours and little pay for back-breaking and dangerous work in the factories. Even with all of the family working in the factories families found it extremely difficult to buy even the most basics. A small few were able, like Abe, to make a better life for himself and his family. Abe was able to better himself, by taking the seconds from the factories and reselling the silk in other markets. Abe had previously owned a bar and was very happy with that endeavor until he met a girl named Sarah. Her parents would not let the two marry until he was able to find a different way of making a living.
I was not aware that circumstances similar to this book really occurred in New Jersey. Even though "Silk Legacy" is fictional the book was written so well that I felt all of the characters were real.I could not wait to get to the next chapter to find out what Abe was up to next. He struggled with his brother Solomon who worked in the factory and was fighting for the rights of the factory workers. This book really illustrates the struggles that immigrants had to survive in America. The danger these people faced daily is just horrifying and during this time period in history there was no concern for the worker just the end product the processed and dyed silk. The wealthy made the rules and ran the town, and the immigrants just hoped they could survive another day in the factory without injury or even death. I really felt disappointed when the book was over. I wanted to know all about Abe and Sarah's travels in the world.
It would have been fun to see what happened to Abe's family as the silk industry evolved. The book also gives a glimpse of how the immigrants made neighborhoods and communities with immigrants from their own countries and even their own religions. "Silk Legacy" thought-provoking and offers glimpses into the lives of the rich and poor during this time period. It was very interesting to me and I was really glad that I had the opportunity to read the book. I would recommend this book to any of my friends or family.
This review is from: Silk Legacy
I found "Silk Legacy" by Richard Brawler amongst a showcase of independent writers and very much liked the idea of the setting, an industrial town in the US affected by the 1913 silk strike.
I did not realize how much more I would be getting. The story is mainly told through the perspective of Jewish couple Abe and Sarah. We are told why and how Abe came to America, how he meets his wife Sarah and how her family persuade him to become a more respectable person. Sarah then becomes involved in the woman's liberation movement and Abe's brother Jacob in the trade union movement.
This book is historical telling at its best, where a huge amount of facts are conveyed and woven into the story line, showing the multitude of effects the political developments at the time had on the family, whose loyalties are torn and whose viewpoints contradict each other despite their closeness.
I found it a compelling read although I knew about the outcome of the strike. The fact that the family was so divided amongst the opposing forces helped to see the various perspectives and made it a balanced and informative read. I find this book excellent.