Gilded Mountain: A Novel
Manning has made a book as sharp-edged and vital as the Colorado mountains it’s set in. Sylvie Pelletier came to Colorado from Vermont with her family after her father took a mining job. Mining, however, is deadly work, and the town itself is not much safer. Miners and their families struggle to scrape by while Duke Padgett looks down from his metaphorical mountaintop, built from the wealth other men have blasted out of the mountains for him.
It’s very clear on which side of the worker-employer debate this book falls, though I suspect even those who would prefer a softer stance might enjoy Gilded Mountain as well. For one thing, Sylvie Pelletier is a delightful protagonist, mixing the best parts of youthful blindness and determined forces of nature into one. For another, it’s easier to accept as villains people who are long gone. Readers who want only a historical thrill will certainly find that here.
Those who are willing to see more, however, will find a book that speaks to struggles that have always been part of America. Most importantly, it speaks to a struggle not only between worker and employer but a more universal one: whether to speak or whether to be silent.