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This is a long book, some 609 pages so a time commitment, as is reading anything, tbh. 

 

The story is set just before the second world war ends and is about a farming family who are more or less illiterate who have to move from their farm in Kentucky to the relatively big city of Detroit.  Although the husband/father finds work and works regularly life is still hand to mouth because they now have rent and other bills to pay (all painfully unfamiliar).  The book describes how unfamiliar they all are with the concept of having electricity in the house, having a radio, having gas in the house and how oppressively small the unit in which they live is.   The children - of which there are 5 - go to school, which is also new. 

 

The Dollmaker of the title is the wife/mother and she considers this to be nothing more than whittling to help her nerves when she gets anxious.  However, someone asks her to make a crucifix and Christ for a rosary and she is given a massive $20 for it.  Her husband and one of her sons gets in on the act and they manufacture a jigsaw to make jumping jack dolls and her son has some success selling these.  Then the war ends, soldiers come back and work is hard to find so it's more difficult to sell these dolls.  

 

I wont tell you how it ends. 

 

This is, in some ways a brutal book. Life described is not at all easy, even when they have regular work and it's heart rending at times describing the loss of dreams of the wife/mother and most especially how she reacts to the death of one of her children.  It feels very wordy at times although I'm not sure where an editor could cut it down or if that would be appropriate.  

 

I'm glad I read it, it was very well written and I would recommend it.

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