The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston
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The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston


"The sun leaned for down bringing shade to the waterfront," begins Michele Moore's entrancing debut novel, harkening back to an era when the legendary fishermen of Charleston's Mosquito Fleet rowed miles offshore for their daily catch. With evocative dialect and remarkable prose, The Cigar Factory tells the story of two entwined families, both devout Catholics--the white McGonegals and the African American Ravenels--in the storied port city of Charleston, South Carolina, during the World Wars. Moore's novel follows the parallel lives of family matriarchs working on segregated floors of the massive Charleston cigar factory, where white and black workers remain divided and misinformed about the duties and treatment received by each other.
Cassie McGonegal and her niece Brigid work upstairs in the factory rolling cigars by hand. Meliah Amey Ravenel works in the basement, where she stems the tobacco. While both white and black workers suffer in the harsh working conditions of the factory and both endure the sexual harassment of the foremen, segregation keeps them from recognizing their common plight until the Tobacco Workers Strike of 1945. Through the experience of a brutal picket line, the two women come to realize how much they stand to gain by joining forces, creating a powerful moment in labor history that gives rise to the Civil Rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."
Moore's extensive historical research included interviews with her own family members who worked at the cigar factory, adding a layer of nuance and authenticity to her empowering story of families and friendships forged through struggle, loss, and redemption. The Cigar Factory includes a foreword by New York Times best-selling author and Story River Books editor at large Pat Conroy.

Title:The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:280 pages

    The Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston Reviews

  • Diane Barnes
    May 25, 2016

    This book would be worth reading for the history and the details of daily life in Charleston in the first half of the 20th century alone, but it goes a step further with a wonderful cast of characters...

  • Suzanne
    Mar 02, 2016

    The Cigar Factory requires a bit of patience due to the Gullah/Geechee words scattered throughout the story. The unfamiliar language, however, is essential in depicting a certain class and time of Cha...

  • Rachel Carnes
    May 29, 2016

    I enjoyed very much reading this book of life in Charleston from 1917-1946. This was a time of segregation, harsh working and living conditions, no unions, and life struggling to move forward when so ...

  • Mary Ess
    Feb 22, 2017

    This book is well written and extremely interesting. It would have been a 5 if left out the Gullah which detracts from the flow of the book. Also ending a bit rushed but maybe enjoyed the characters s...

  • Julia Prater
    Apr 19, 2016

    Terrific historical novel of a time period and social class of Charleston seldom explored. Strong character development and solid story woven into significant events in the history of the city, the na...

  • Marisa
    Jan 12, 2017

    Michele Moore weaves a powerful narrative that reveals the abysmal working conditions, for the female descendants of Gullah Geechee speaking former slaves and white working women alike, in Charleston'...

  • Kimberly
    Jun 11, 2016

    Michele Moore nailed this story based on truth. She was dead on with the language without making the characters appear a caricature of the South. ...

  • Annmbray
    Jun 18, 2017

    Loved this book so much -- not only because of the subject matter but also because of the colorful dialect and the breadth of history covered. Got to meet in passing Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marsh...

  • Carol
    Feb 20, 2017

    While the premise of the story was the interaction between a white and black worker at the cigar factory, I didn't think it was well developed. The support and cooperation came near the end of the sto...

  • Barbara
    May 21, 2017

    Very good. The story of the cigar factory as seen through the eyes of a black woman and a white woman who by the end of the book discover they have so very much in common. The conditions the women wor...