On the Shelf Book Review: ‘The Dollmaker’, by Harriette Arnow

the-dollmakerOn the Shelf Book Review
By Karolee Gillman, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

Originally published in 1954, The Dollmaker begins with a very emotional scene of an Appalachian mother desperately trying to save her youngest son’s life, and the roller coaster of emotion doesn’t stop.

This book is very descriptive and worded so beautifully, you can see the story come to life. The book is very long and when the characters speak, they do so in the Appalachian dialect. I had to often read the conversations out loud to comprehend what was being said.

Gertie Nevels is a strong, compassionate woman, with a passion for whittling. Her one dream is to buy her own farm in the backwoods of Kentucky and live there with her husband and children. But World War II intervenes, and as a good wife she must take her children and follow her husband to Detroit, where he has been put to work in a war factory. In the city, Gertie fights desperately to keep her family together, maintain their rural values while they stuck in a Cracker-Jack-box housing development in a world far away from Appalachia.

Read The Dollmaker to see how Gertie handles tragedy and betrayal and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her family. You will smile and cry right along with her.