Tag Archives: Mill towns

Buddy Strickland. Dreamweaver. Indian Trail, N.C.: Dreamweaver Publishing, 2006.

This part-memoir, part-novel alternates the story of Buddy, a southern boy growing up in the 1940s, with a fictional recreation of the lives of Lea and Amos, Buddy’s Cherokee ancestors. Through the two stories readers can learn about the enslavement of Native Americans, mill village life, and mid-twentieth century Southern popular culture.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Cabarrus, Historical, Piedmont, Rowan, Strickland, Buddy

Flora Ann Scearce. Cotton Mill Girl. Mustag, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2006.

This novel follows Selena “Sippy” Wright as she joins the workforce at the tender age of twelve. Work as a “linthead’ in a cotton mill in Gastonia is hard, but Sippy makes lifelong friends and comes to see her own strengths. The hardships of early twentieth century mill life are vividly portrayed, but this is a book in the Oprah model–grit, good sense, and loving friends and family help a young girl grow in wisdom and happiness. This is the second Sippy Wright novel; Singer of an Empty Day (published in 1997) told the story of Sippy’s early life in a small mountain community.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Gaston, Piedmont, Scearce, Flora Ann

Patricia Rice. Sweet Home Carolina. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007.

When the textile mill in the fictional Piedmont town of North Fork, North Carolina goes bankrupt, Amy Warren is determined to reopen the mill and reinstate jobs for the people in her town. But Zack St. Etienne, a successful European buinessman, arrives in Norfolk with other plans for the mill. Upset by the obstruction of her goal, Amy must also come to terms with the romance that develops with Zack.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Rice, Patricia, Romance/Relationship

Jack Riggs. When the Finch Rises. New York: Ballantine, 2003.

The narrator of this novel, twelve-year-old Raybert Williams Jr., lives in Ellenton, a fictional North Carolina mill town in 1968. Raybert’s mother and father, each with deep problems of their own, teeter between responsible parenting and neglect, while Raybert’s best friend Palmer faces an even tougher lot with an abusive stepfather and a potential sexual predator in the family. Raybert and Palmer find comfort in each other’s company, and in their shared fantasies of growing up and escaping Ellenton.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Riggs, Jack

Doug Marlette. The Bridge. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Pick Cantrell, a successful but controversial editorial cartoonist, has just moved from New York to his hometown in North Carolina. In the course of adjusting to his new life, Cantrell learns about his family’s connections to area’s rich textile history, most notably his grandmother Lucy’s involvement in a mill workers’ strike in the 1930s. The novel is set in the fictional town of Eno, North Carolina, most likely based on Hillsborough, and includes scenes in Chapel Hill.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Marlette, Doug, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Piedmont

Toni L.P. Kelner. The Laura Fleming Mysteries.

Laura Fleming is a computer programmer living in Boston with her husband, a Shakespeare professor at a local college. In nearly all of these novels (with the exception of Country Comes to Town) Laura travels to her hometown of Byerly, N.C., a fictional town in the western part of the state, and when she does, trouble breaks out. Time after time Laura’s amateur detective skills are called into play as she gets to the bottom of a murder. In between chasing criminals, Laura introduces her husband to the South. Kelner describes Byerly as “based on my memories and knowledge of Southern mill towns like Granite Falls, Conover, and Dudley Shoals. If it were real, it would be near Hickory, NC, with its own exit off Highway 321.”

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Filed under Catawba, Kelner, Toni L. P., Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Series

Pamela Duncan. Plant Life. New York: Delacorte Press, 2003.

This novel is largely the story of a group of women who work in the textile mill in the fictional Piedmont town of Russell, N.C. The town and its residents are seen through the fresh perspective of newly divorced Laurel Granger, who has returned to Russell after fifteen years in Las Vegas. As Laurel struggles to cope with her aging mother and begins to find romance again, she is comforted by the friendship and understanding of the women she works alongside at the mill. Plant Life won the 2003 Sir Walter Raleigh award for the best work of fiction by a North Carolina author.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Duncan, Pamela, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont