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Clara and Merritt by Peter Donahue

Clara and Merritt by Peter Donahue

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Book review

CLARA AND MERRITT, by the author MADISON HOUSE, winner of the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction, unfolds amidst the violent strife between longshoremen and Teamsters in Seattle in the 1930s and '40s.  When Clara Hamilton, the daughter of a longshoreman, and Merritt Driscoll, a member of the Teamsters union, fall in love, their relationship is immeidately threatened by the fierce antagonism between the rival unions.  Encompassing the West Coast labor movement, World War II, the Northwest School of Art, and much more, this exciting new novel explores how people reckon with the larger forces of world events in their everyday lives.

"CLARA AND MERRITT is rich with details that give life to a little-known chapter of our past.  Donahue draws us into a panoramic, dramatic saga--events that affected the entire Pacific Northwest and generations to come" -- Molly Gloss, author of THE JUMP-OFF CREEK, WILD LIFE, and THE HEARTS OF HORSES

"Peter Donahue has crafted an impressive, fully imagined, satisfying drama, and Clara Hamilton ranks among the most endearing and inspiring heroines in Northwest literature." -- Jim Lynch, author of THE HIGHEST TIDE and BORDER SONGS

"Vivid characters, persuasive storytelling, rich noirish detail, and a deep sense of time and place . . . Clara and Merritt is a ripping good read, a ride on an old Plymouth's running board to a time of highballs, union brawls, and no shopping malls." -- SEATTLEMET MAGAZINE
"For those interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest, author Peter Donahue has an approach akin to that of E.L. Doctorow in meshing prominent historical figures into fictional narrative . . . Donahue knows Seattle inside and out . . . There are encounters with real-life players in mid-20th century Seattle: painter Guy Anderson, for example, and union leaders Dave Beck and Harry Bridges. But it is the fictional characters that are utterly engaging -- reticent Merritt, spirited Clara, her odd-couple parents, their singular friends." -- THE SEATTLE TIMES

"Like the best historical fiction, Donahue's well-paced novel provides a strong sense of place and well-drawn characters to convey its time . . . This is a good summer read that will draw you in with its portraits and leave you knowing more about a fascinating stretch of Northwest history." -- THE WILLAMETTE WEEKLY

Peter Donahue
Wordcraft of Oregon
Date of release


Clara and Merritt

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