"The sun leaned for down bringing shade to the waterfront," begins Michele Moore's entrancing debut novel, harkening back to an era when the legendary fishermen of Charleston's Mosquito Fleet rowed miles offshore for their daily catch.
With evocative dialect and remarkable prose, The Cigar Factory tells the story of two entwined families, both devout Catholics - the white McGonegals and the African American Ravenels - in the storied port city of Charleston, South Carolina, during the World Wars. Moore's novel follows the parallel lives of family matriarchs working on segregated floors of the massive Charleston cigar factory, where white and black workers remain divided and misinformed about the duties and treatment received by each other.
Cassie McGonegal and her niece, Brigid, work upstairs in the factory rolling cigars by hand. Meliah Amey Ravenel works in the basement, where she stems the tobacco. While both white and black workers suffer in the harsh working conditions of the factory and both endure the sexual harassment of the foremen, segregation keeps them from recognizing their common plight until the Tobacco Workers Strike of 1945. Through the experience of a brutal picket line, the two women come to realize how much they stand to gain by joining forces, creating a powerful moment in labor history that gives rise to the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome".
Moore's extensive historical research included interviews with her own family members who worked at the cigar factory, adding a layer of nuance and authenticity to her empowering story of families and friendships forged through struggle, loss, and redemption.
©2016 Michele Moore (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
Two families sharing common language, workplace and folkways, yet separated by race. "Cigar Factory" illustrates the psychological and social boundaries of poor whites and poor blacks. It portrays the opportunities that would come (and did come) from recognizing a potential ally. I loved seeing into a lost world in this well-researched book.
If Charleston's culture is rooted in its language Robin Miles takes you in deep. I had the feeling she relished the chance to take on the Gullah inflected english for the length of an entire book. Although the story is often dark, her performance is joyful. A virtuoso given a particularly complicated piece. She makes Charleston sing and effortlessly becomes the story.
I was expecting a riveting story about the deplorable conditions under which these women lived......but the story was painstakinglyy slow.....could not get into it....stopped listening about one third of the way thru....
No. the accents were all the same....language was difficult to understand
Among the best. As a frequent visitor to Charleston, with family members who live there, this book was accurate historically and geographically, compelling in its story line and outstanding in the performance
Both Meliah Amey and Cassie were compelling. But one of my husband's relatives, Judge Waring, is my favorite character
The sounds of old Charleston: I was unaware that gullah was as widely spoken as it was in the early 1900s. Robin thoroughly transported me back in time. It was excellent
The hair stood up on the back of my neck for most of the story...it was that well performed and that believable
I highly recommend this book to anyone
"More than interesting"
The uniqueness of the story.
All of it!
She obviously has a great interest in the subject; her enthusiasm for the characters comes through and her command of the accents and language required is excellent. She also has perfect diction.
The early 1900s seen from a different perspective.
The uniqueness of the subject matter opens the listener's thoughts to a whole new universe and what you thought you knew about racism and the inequality of that time might be challenged...
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.