This critically acclaimed novel tells the story of the miners, their struggle for the union, and the tragic Battle of Blair Mountain. Set in the 1920’s in Annadel, West Virginia, four strong characters tell this story of love and loss.
Annadel, West Virginia, was a small town rich in coal, farms, and close-knit families, all destroyed when the coal company came in. It stole everything it hadn’t bothered to buy – land deeds, private homes, and ultimately, the souls of its men and women.
Four people tell this powerful, deeply moving tale: Activist Mayor C.J. Marcum. Fierce, loveless union man Rondal Lloyd. Gutsy nurse Carrie Bishop, who loved Rondal. And lonely, Sicilian immigrant Rose Angelelli, who lost four sons to the deadly mines.
They all bear witness to nearly forgotten events of history, culminating in the final, tragic Battle of Blair Mountain -when the United States Army greeted 10,000 unemployed pro-union miners with airplanes, bombs, and poison gas. It was the first crucial battle of a war that has yet to be won.
About the author:
Denise Giardina was born October 25, 1951 in Bluefield, West Virginia, and grew up in the small coal mining camp of Black Wolf, located in rural McDowell County, West Virginia. Like the rest of the community, her family’s survival was dependent upon the prosperity of the mine. Giardina’s grandfather and uncles worked underground and her father kept the books for Page Coal and Coke. Her family lived in Black Wolf until she was thirteen, when the mine closed. In order to find work, her family moved to the state capital of Charleston.
Giardina received a Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1973. She pursued graduate work at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, later receiving a Masters in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia in 1979. In 1980 she decided against ordination in favor of pursuing a career in writing. In order to fund this career choice, Denise Giardina did secretarial work during the day so she could write in the evenings. Giardina currently lives near Charleston and teaches at West Virginia State University. In 2007 she was reinstated as an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church.
Her book Storming Heaven was a Discovery Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and received the 1987 W. D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. The Unquiet Earth received an American Book Award and the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Her 1998 novel Saints and Villains was awarded the Boston Book Review fiction prize and was semifinalist for the International Dublin Literary Award.