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Friday, September 7, 2007

Triangle by Katharine Weber

Triangle by Katharine Weber is a historical novel based upon the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire in New York City in the early 1900's.

The story Weber tells is the recollections of the last surviving person who worked at the shirt factory and escaped the blaze only to watch her co-workers and her sister either burn to death or jump from the 9th story of the building to a certain death in the street below. I am not revealing any spoilers here since the book begins with the story Esther Gottsfeld tells repeatedly either to a woman writing a book on the historical significance of the fire from a feminist viewpoint or the information Esther testified to during the fire's resulting trial.

After reporting the recollections of Esther Gottsfeld, the book begins with the musical background and genius of Esther Gottsfeld's grand-daughter's love interest. Frankly I found this section of the book amusing but somewhat tedious.

When the book changes to the story of Esther, her grand-daughter Rebecca, and their interaction with Rebecca's musical companion George, the story takes off and becomes a great deal more compelling.

Despite the fact that Esther Gottsfeld was a newly arrived immigrant when she began working at the Triangle Shirt Factory, she mastered the English language well enough to give a very moving, horrific account of what took place when the fire began through her escape and the aftermath she endured. Even though she has to repeat this testimony at several different time periods in the book, the story never loses its terrible impact.

In addition to being a historical novel, Triangleis also a very good mystery with a few twists and turns that are interesting and provide a very satisfying ending to this story. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy mysteries, and who like to learn a bit of history along the way. In my opinion, this book is top notch in both categories.

I read this book for The Readers In Thongs Weight Loss Reading Challenge.

The book weighs 15 ounces.


gautami tripathy said...

I like historical novels. Though I can read all genres. I think I will check this out.

BTW, I write reviews too. Just click on my name here. And you can reach my book blog.

Manky said...

I don't usually read historical novels, but the details of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire interested me, and when this book was first published it was very well reviewed. As it turns out, if you're looking for a detailed description of what happened with the Triangle Shirt Factory, this isn't the place to read it. But that doesn't take away from the story and the details Weber does go into about working conditions for women and children during that period of history.