Mrs. Somebody Somebody

Carol Luers EymanIf you’re lucky you have a friend like Judy H. Whenever she and I get together, the conversation quickly turns to books we’ve loved and hated lately. And 90 percent of the time, we agree.

"Mrs Somebody Somebody" by Tracy Winn is available at the library in hardcover.

“Mrs Somebody Somebody” by Tracy Winn is available at the library in hardcover.

So when she offered to loan me a copy of Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn during a visit this summer, I jumped on it.

Structured as a series of related short stories, the book is about life in Lowell, Mass., from 1947, when the bustling downtown mills were prospering, to 2005, when the mills that remain are museums.

In the first story we meet Stella, a “man-crazy” knitter at Hub Hosiery Mill. “My dream was to marry a good-looking man with enough money to set me up in my own shop,” she says, to become “Mrs. Somebody Somebody.”

In the last, we find out how that turned out for her.

In between the author paints a stark picture of the lives of other residents of Lowell, some known to Stella, some past her time; some struggling, some privileged.

When thugs beat a man to death for the crime of setting up a union-information table, we remember why we enacted labor laws. When once-cute little Frankie, grandson of the mill owner, grows up to break into his parents’ home and raid the liquor cabinet, we aren’t all that sympathetic. When a Brazilian immigrant’s son—feared dead in a roadside attack in Iraq—turns out to have “only” lost a hand, we are relieved.

If you liked Richard Russo’s Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs, or Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, try Mrs. Somebody Somebody. And then pass it on to a friend.

About Carol Luers Eyman

Carol Luers Eyman is the outreach and community services coordinator at the Nashua Public Library. After graduating from Kirkland College, she earned a master’s of education and a certificate in technical communication from the University of Massachusetts.

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