• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: High Hill Press (August 1, 2013)
In the Depression-era coal patch known as The Hive, miner’s wife Clare Sweeney keeps secrets to survive. Stripped of her real name, she hides her friendship with a town pariah, haunting guilt around the deaths of her three infant sons, and determination never to bear another. She defies her abusive husband and the town’s rigid caste system to ensure a better future for her daughters, who harbor secrets of their own.
Deirdre conceals her attraction to a member of the despised Company police. Katie withholds her plans for a college education—and the convent—from her high school sweetheart. And Norah suppresses the cause of her mother’s frequent miscarriages, the devastating memory of one brother’s death, and her love for a married man.
The four women’s intertwined lives eerily mirror the 7th century legend of St. Barbara, patroness of miners, reenacted annually in the town pageant. Each daughter is cast as St. Barbara, but scandal and tragedy intervene, allowing just one to play the coveted role. In turn, they depart from The Hive, leaving Clare to endure her difficult marriage—till a mine explosion rocks the town. Forced to confront the ghosts of her past, she faces a life-changing choice. Her decision will test her capacity to forgive and challenge her to begin a courageous journey to self-redemption.
The granddaughter of immigrant coal miners, Marian Szczepanski grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and lived as a young child in the Jamison Coal Company house where her mother and aunts were raised. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and has won awards for short fiction and magazine feature writing. Playing St. Barbara is her first novel. She lives in Houston, Texas.
Marian’s Tour Stops
Monday, January 6th: Books Without Any Pictures – author interview
Tuesday, January 7th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, January 8th: A Book Geek
Thursday, January 9th: The House of the Seven Tails
Monday, January 13th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, January 14th: Book Journey
Wednesday, January 15th: A Patchwork of Books
Thursday, January 16th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, January 20th: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, January 21st: Bluestalking
Wednesday, January 22nd: A Musing Reviews
Tuesday, January 28th: The Infinite Shelf
Wednesday, January 29th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, January 30th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, February 4th: Giraffe Days
Saturday, February 8th: Diary of a Stay a Home Mom