Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gold Dust on His Shirt (2008)

Irene Howard's Gold Dust on His Shirt: The True Story of an Immigrant Mining Family (2008) is not a book that I would have picked up on its own, but since it came to me via the fantastic LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, I was happy to give it a shot.

This book tells the story of Howard's Norwegian mother and Swedish father who immigrate to Canada in the early 1900s, meet, and start their family. Her father began working on logging crews, and then for the railroad before beginning his work in the mines. Mining was the defining occupation of his life and shaped the experiences and opportunities of him and his family.

Howard's book is part memoir, part genealogy (she visits her mother's family in Norway and researches her father's hidden past in Sweden), and part social history. In a less experienced author, the personal history of the story might become too heavy-handed or burdened with detail, or the historical context could overburden the family's stories and personalities. Howard avoids those pitfalls and brings us an engaging, educational and moving portrait of a real Canadian family.

If you like Scandinavians, labor history, British Columbia, or family stories, then this is the book for you. Very well done.

No comments: