Title: Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash
Author: Tammy Pasterick
It’s Pittsburgh, 1910—the golden age of steel in the land of opportunity. Eastern European immigrants Janos and Karina Kovac should be prospering, but their American dream is fading faster than the colors on the sun-drenched flag of their adopted country. Janos is exhausted from a decade of twelve-hour shifts, seven days per week, at the local mill. Karina, meanwhile, thinks she has found an escape from their run-down ethnic neighborhood in the modern home of a mill manager—until she discovers she is expected to perform the duties of both housekeeper and mistress. Though she resents her employer’s advances, they are more tolerable than being groped by drunks at the town’s boarding house.
When Janos witnesses a gruesome accident at his furnace on the same day Karina learns she will lose her job, the Kovac family begins to unravel. Janos learns there are people at the mill who pose a greater risk to his life than the work itself, while Karina—panicked by the thought of returning to work at the boarding house—becomes unhinged and wreaks a path of destruction so wide that her children are swept up in the storm. In the aftermath, Janos must rebuild his shattered family—with the help of an unlikely ally.
Impeccably researched and deeply human, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash delivers a timeless message about mental illness while paying tribute to the sacrifices America’s immigrant ancestors made.
I previously reviewed this novel for Readers’ Favorite, so while I cannot post it to any book sites, I can reshare it here.
Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick is a family saga spanning nearly a decade in early 1910s America. Janos and Karina Kovac come to the United States from Eastern Europe, seeking the proverbial streets paved with gold. However, the reality is anything but. Janos works long hours shoveling coal into a furnace, and Karina keeps house for a middle-class man. Their children, Sofie and Lukas, do their best to help, troubled by their parents’ deteriorating marriage. Then, a horrible accident at the furnace has Janos reconsidering the life he’s built so far in grimy Riverton. As he contemplates a solution to their situation, Karina makes an ill-advised decision of her own. Can the family escape the shadows of their past and start anew, or will nightmares come back to haunt them?
I thoroughly enjoyed Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash by Tammy Pasterick. She adroitly blends the points of view of the characters to weave together a story of heartbreak and hope. I especially admire how she used characters from all economic backgrounds, and explored the hard topics of the day like mining accidents and the unionization of industrial workers. I also appreciated the discussion of infertility, as this was something many women have faced throughout time and had to remain silent about, or felt it was their own deficiencies that prevented them from becoming pregnant. I would recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the early industrialization of the United States, as well as to anyone who enjoys historical novels that are driven by the characters’ emotions.
About the Author:
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy Pasterick grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. She began her career as an investigator with the National Labor Relations Board and later worked as a paralegal and German teacher. She holds degrees in labor and industrial relations from Penn State University and German language and literature from the University of Delaware. She currently lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her husband, two children, and chocolate Labrador retriever.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tammy-Pasterick/e/B08RSJN7D4