Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Family saga set in Pennsylvania mining country? Sorry, that doesn't equate (as the blurbage suggests) to a new Mysteries of Pittsburg. Nor is it an American Penmarric. Instead, Baker Towers takes the Novak family, already an anomaly thanks to their Italian mother/Polish father in a town where people simply don't marry outside ethnic lines, from World War II through a vaguely modern era. The five children are all in some way flawed, each attempting to escape their impoverished small-town roots and each failing. As we move through the decades, smaller moments are intermixed with big ones; some of the bigger moments, like Rose's death, happen off stage.
Overall this feels like it should have been a much larger book, rather than the fewer than 400 that it is. Belva Plain couldn't have done this in fewer than 700! That's actually a good thing, because the author's choices of what to include, what to leave out, and what to elide make this a less exhausting read.
Copy provided by publisher.