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Triangle

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Overview

By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that day many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian bears down on her with her own set of conclusions, and Esther's voice vies with theirs to ...

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Triangle: A Novel

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Overview

By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that day many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian bears down on her with her own set of conclusions, and Esther's voice vies with theirs to reveal the full meaning of the tragedy.

A brilliant chronicle of the event that stood for ninety years as New York's most violent disaster, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Extraordinary . . . Triangle is a strange, haunting and utterly compelling work that will linger long, like smoke after a fire."--The Baltimore Sun

"A thing of beauty. . . . A structurally dazzling novel whose formal acrobatics have a purpose beyond their own cleverness. That is, to make readers feel anew the tragedy of the Triangle fire."--Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Katharine Weber's crackerjack historical mystery, may be the most effective 9/11 novel yet written--and it isn't even about 9/11."--Entertainment Weekly

Frances Itani
Triangle is an enticing read, but its structure constantly intrudes. The ending, however, is grand and moving -- an inventive finale. George composes the Triangle Oratorio, and the chapter written around the Oratorio involves the reader most fully. The last hanging threads are gathered; the seams dissolve. We feel we must grieve. Esther's life is honored, as are the lives of the factory workers who perished almost a hundred years ago. Fact and fiction merge. It is interesting that the art of music ends up fleshing out the triangle.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 workers, most of them women, and galvanized efforts to reform working conditions in sweatshops. In Esther Gottesfeld, the last remaining survivor of the Triangle fire, Weber (The Little Women) creates a believable and memorable witness to the horrors of that day. Esther managed to escape, but her fianc , Sam, and her sister, Pauline, both perished in the blaze. In 2001, Esther is living in a New York Jewish retirement home, visited often by her beloved granddaughter Rebecca and Rebecca's longtime partner, George Botkin. Rebecca and George's story and quirky rapport take up half of the book, and descriptions of George's music provide a needed counterpoint to the harrowing accounts of the fire and its aftermath. But Ruth Zion, a humorless but perceptive feminist scholar, sees inconsistencies in Esther's story and determines to ferret them out through repeated interviews with Esther and, after her death, with Rebecca. The novel carefully, and wrenchingly, allows both the reader and Rebecca to discover the secret truth about Esther and the Triangle without spelling it out; it is a truth that brings home the real sufferings of factory life as well as the human capacity to tell the stories we want to hear. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Esther Gottesfeld has been famous most of her life, because in 1911, when she was just 16, she escaped the tragic Triangle Waist Company fire when so many others perished. Decades later, Esther, sarcastic and feisty, is interviewed by an irritating feminist researcher, Ruth Zion, whose questions probe lurid personal details of the tragedy. Esther's death at age 106 comes just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, an event Weber (The Music Lesson) skillfully weaves into Esther's story. Granddaughter Rebecca must decipher the puzzling contents of Esther's safety deposit box while Ruth continues prying because of discrepancies in Esther's telling and retelling of what happened the day of the fire. Rebecca turns to her eccentric boyfriend, George Botkin, an experimental music composer, who helps put the pieces together. He composes the Triangle Overture, an ambitious, bold, and complex finale that Weber imaginatively uses to tie up the reminiscences, flashbacks, and trial testimony revolving around locked doors and crooked building inspectors. Weber demonstrates her deep understanding of her characters in this beautiful novel perfectly introduced by Robert Pinsky's poem "Shirt." Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City killed almost 150 people. Weber blends that fact with an interesting and believable fictional premise in this novel about Esther Gottesfeld, the oldest living survivor of the disaster. How did she survive while her fianc and twin sister, Pauline, perished? Esther's granddaughter, Rebecca, and Rebecca's partner, George, are caught in the middle of a battle of wills as Ruth Zion, a Triangle historian, shows a dogged determination to uncover the truth about that fatal day that sends her beyond investigative journalism into obsession. George is a renowned composer whose works are based on science, like the molecular sequences of an individual's DNA. Triangle is a series of complex, multilayered, triangular connections with links as tight as the threads in a shirt-Esther, Pauline, and the fianc ; Esther, Rebecca, and George; Rebecca, George, and Ruth-the permutations go on and on. Branching off into music theory and chemistry, this is a challenging and somewhat esoteric read that should appeal to mathematically and scientifically inclined teens as well as those who enjoy the mystery of the human heart and its relationships.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Weber (The Little Women, 2003, etc.) considers a notorious American tragedy, in her third novel. Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Her granddaughter, Rebecca, is a neuroscientist. Rebecca's lover George is a musical genius, someone who can turn the smell of new chalk or the amino acid sequences of polypeptides into song. The story begins with Esther's oral history of the fire; it's written in a style that's as restrained and unadorned as the topic is sensational. Unfortunately, this riveting start is followed by a lengthy, painfully expository description of George's career. While it may be good for the author to know so much about her character's vocation, she needn't relate a 40-page curriculum vitae. There are snippets of narrative-scenes in which Rebecca makes an appearance, the description of the death of a friend-but this is not so much a depiction of a life as the synopsis of a life. The chapter outlining Rebecca's professional history isn't any livelier. There's substantially more backstory here than actual story, which turns on the possibility that Esther's recollections of the fire-including her testimony in the case against the factory bosses-might not be true. Rebecca is first confronted with this possibility right after her grandmother dies, when she receives a call from Ruth Zion, a historian studying the fire. Weber assembles a lot of information-interview transcripts, courtroom transcripts, newspaper articles-but she doesn't shape this material into a compelling narrative, nor does she create truly compelling characters. Ruth is an unfunny caricature of a feminist scholar. When they're together, Rebecca and George are socute and clever that they seem more like a vaudeville act than an actual couple. As for George's strange-and exhaustively documented-musical gifts, they seem to belong to a different novel altogether. An exploration of history, memory and the meaning of truth that never quite coheres as a story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312426149
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 775,049
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Katharine Weber is the author of three novels. Her paternal grandmother finished buttonholes for the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in 1909. She lives in Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt

TRIANGLE


By KATHARINE WEBER

FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX

Copyright © 2006 Katharine Weber
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-374-28142-4


Chapter One

This is what happened. I was working at my machine, with only a few minutes left before the end of the day, I remember so clearly I can still see it, that I had only two right sleeves remaining in my pile-my sister Pauline, she did the left sleeves and I did the right sleeves and between us we could finish sometimes as many as twenty-four shirtwaists in an hour, three hundred shirtwaists on a good day, if the machines didn't break down and if the thread didn't break too often, and if nobody put a needle through her finger, which happened all the time and the biggest problem then was you didn't want to bleed on the goods but you didn't want to stop work so you took a piece of scrap and you wrapped your finger tight and you kept working-my sister was a little faster than I was and sometimes her finished pile would be high because she did her sleeve first and then I would take from her pile to do the right sleeve but I have to say my seams were the ones always perfectly straight.

And then when I was done, the waist would be finished except for sewing on the buttons and trimming the loose threads, and who did that was the little girls over in the nursery, that's what we called that corner, the nursery, some of those girls were only ten or eleven years old already working andworking, poor things, but what other life did they know? Those little girls would sew on the buttons and cut all the loose threads and then the waist would be ready for pressing.

It was payday that day, it was a Saturday, and the pay envelopes had just been handed out, and before that for a few minutes there was a break and my friend Ida Brodsky, she died, she was a wonderful friend to me, she made a cake for a surprise because of my engagement to Sam, because we had just said a few days before we would get married, we didn't even get a ring yet, and people were happy for us, all the girls working together, it was so cheerful sometimes even with the hard work. I had my pay envelope and my sister's also, to keep for her, we each got maybe six or eight dollars or sometimes less, except in a good week, and once we each made twelve dollars for a week's work but that was an exception, but you could live on that money we made and send some home, too. We thought we were doing well, we were happy enough with what we had, even though the unions told us to get more and told us we shouldn't be so happy, and they were right, but we were never hungry, we were so young and healthy and strong, and it felt like a chance to get ahead, so we didn't mind the long days and the terrible loud noise of the machines and the smell of the oil everywhere.

That oil, they had to use it, to keep the machines going, but they could have opened those dirty windows for even a breath of fresh air, it wouldn't have made us work slower and who knows it might have made us work better, but all the windows were always kept closed tight-and I remember I just took a moment from my machine to tuck the pay packets for both of us into my stocking to be safe like always, I took them both from our boss, Mr. Jacobs, so my sister could keep working for every minute left-and the next day would have been our one day off in the week, so we were looking forward to that-and then there was a big noise behind me, while I was still bending down, like nothing I had ever heard, and I thought, What could that be?

So loud, like an explosion and something breaking all at once! So I turned around, and my sister next to me, she turned around too, and what did we see? Flames! They were just outside the window on the Greene Street side, they were right there behind me. The flames were coming up from the eighth floor but we didn't know everybody on the eighth floor was already in a commotion and escaping because that's where the fire started, and a lot of those girls got out before that big noise which was the windows breaking from the fire, mostly they got out from the eighth floor, but we were on the ninth floor, that's where I worked already for a year with my sister, we learned English so fast and we had these good jobs and our life in America was a big adventure for us. We thought it was fortunate to work on the ninth floor where the bosses gave a little more pay and the really skilled girls, the fastest workers, they had their machines. Maybe that was never true and it was the same on the eighth floor but this is what we thought. Nobody on our floor knew what was happening right underneath us until those windows blew out. More people could have got out if we knew, but nobody told us. They knew on the tenth floor and they all got out, but one. A lot of people below us and everyone above us got out. Only on the ninth floor it was unlucky to be, because nobody told us.

And so first we had this big explosion and we saw these flames and the girls all around me started to shout and scream, my sister also, and everyone was in a commotion and the flames got bigger at the window and then the flames, they were inside with us, coming along the wall and across the floor like water flowing, I've never seen anything like that and I am thinking this is very bad-and the next thing you know the flames were around us, and right next to us, and we can feel this heat like a furnace and at first there was the screaming but nobody was moving, everybody was frozen for a moment, but then there was a rush of all the girls trying to get across the room at once, but they were blocked by the machinery because the big rows of sewing machines were on these long tables with no gaps, they took up so much space and there was no way to pass except at the ends of the rows of tables, and some girls tried to crawl under but there was no room with the pedals and the machinery and they were pushing and there were girls climbing across the tables with their long skirts bunched and getting caught in the machines and they were falling and shoving and everyone was shouting and pushing and grabbing and calling out, and the Italian girls were praying and screaming to each other.

Mr. Grannick, one of the garment cutters, a very nice little man, he stood up on a chair and tried to make the girls listen but a lot of the girls couldn't see him because now there was so much smoke, and people were screaming and coughing and choking and nobody could hear what he was saying with the noise-he was one of the ones who got out-and I saw a girl with her hair on fire, and then another one running with her clothes all burning up and so I pushed my way past these two Italian sisters, I think one was called Rosalie, she was the young one, they were just standing there screaming and crying without moving, their faces were all red and their eyes were all red and they were in my way and I never saw them again, I'm sorry, God help me and God help them, but I pushed past them and I saw there were too many girls at the door and nobody could go out that way, it was a terrible thing, but nobody's fault, because the door, it opened in, didn't we all know that already, it was a narrow door we all used it to go out, because it was the only way out, it had to be, so we could pass by the guard who inspected us to make sure we weren't stealing any of the goods-some of the girls took scraps home to make things, and some of them even stole finished waists, one girl, she was new, she tried to hide a waist tucked into her hair in a big rat-that was a style and that was what we called it, a rat-but she was caught, it was just the week before, her name was Ella something Italian like Piacentini, something like that, and she was crying and she promised never to do it again but we didn't see her any more after that day and we were sorry for her-who would know how lucky she was to be sent away in disgrace from the Triangle that week?

The fire was getting hotter and it was everywhere, on the machines and the tables and all our work was burning up and the smoke was so thick and the smell was just terrible, black from the oil and the burning goods and the smell was so strong, and everyone was coughing and gagging and choking, and there was also the very horrible smell of burning hair, and all those girls were pushing and pushing together, it was just so terrible I can't really describe it, they were all pushing at once and the girls in the front maybe even got squeezed to death from the pushing but nobody could open that door.

I had an idea about another door-sometimes the bosses went in and out this other door, we were never allowed to go that way on the weekend when the freight elevators weren't running-it was by the back side of the building instead of the Washington Place side, they would go on these other stairs by the freight elevators to walk up to the tenth floor where the offices were, so I had this idea-I don't know why nobody else thought of this but everyone was in a big panic and maybe everyone assumed the other door would be locked like always but you have to try, and I'm sorry to say this about all those poor girls who didn't make it but nobody else thought to try-and I pulled my sister by the hand to go with me over there, across the room, but it was like running towards the flames and it probably didn't seem right to go towards the fire and all the black smoke to get away, but that's how a lot of people got out from this building in one way or another, running into the fire to get through, and my sister, why did she pull back, I don't know.

And meanwhile there were girls at the passenger elevator door trying to crowd into the elevator, too many of them, and it was smoke everywhere, and the windows were breaking on both sides and there were girls with their hair on fire and their dresses on fire-screaming, screaming like you can't imagine, like animals, not like people anymore-and they were standing in the windows screaming and then they were jumping and the girls watched the ones who jumped, and then they were in the window after them, and then they jumped, in rows, it was like they waited their turns, it was just so terrible.

I never thought about jumping, to tell you the truth. I don't know why, I just somehow thought I could escape this and live some more. I was foolish and so young I didn't know that it was almost impossible and so I thought I could try to keep alive. But other girls were just as young with their lives ahead of them too, like me, and they didn't see a way to get out like I did, so maybe it was just I was lucky. Because it was then I saw Mr. Jacobs, he was the contractor my sister and I worked for, I saw him with a waist around his face so he could breathe with all the smoke and all you could see were his eyes, they were red from the smoke, and he was coughing like everybody, and I saw him go to this other door I mentioned, the door by the freight elevators to the stairs we aren't supposed to use on weekends, and he had a key and my sister was right behind me, and I saw him unlock the door and I went to follow him, but my sister wasn't right behind me anymore.

I should have held her hand tighter, but I didn't, because I thought she was right behind me, and then she wasn't there, and I saw her, she was going through the flames the other way, because the flames were everywhere now, and you couldn't tell which way was which, and where she was going, I found out, even though I didn't know it right then, where she was going was to my fiance, that was Sam, Sam Gottesfeld, he was twenty, and like I said, we were going to be married, and he was at the corner window on the Washington Place side, and he was helping the girls.

And she went to him, my sister went to him, I don't know what she was thinking, and I don't know what he was thinking, staying by the window where nobody could get out, why he didn't try to go to the stairs or the elevator, or try that terrible fire escape hardly anyone could go on, I don't know, even though he wouldn't have lived anyway if he did that, because so many girls tried that and they died, but I don't know what he was thinking staying there by the window, not even trying. I called her, I called to my sister, but she didn't hear me, and everyone was coughing and screaming so loud, and I tried to go closer and keep calling her name, but she didn't hear me with all the screaming, and the noise was so terrible from the fire roaring and the little girls wailing, there were some little girls, nobody was helping them and they were burning, and they were coughing and gagging, it was pitiful, and they were crying with the smoke, the smoke made everybody cry, there was so much smoke, and I tried to get to my sister but the flames caught on my hair, and I was getting burned, and I had to go back, so I went back to that door Mr. Jacobs had unlocked, and he was gone, there was nobody else near me now and there was nothing behind me but flames, like a wall of fire, and I went through, and I fell down, but then I got up and I saw that you couldn't go down the stairs with the fire so I went up the stairs to the tenth floor and there was nobody there, they had all saved themselves already.

It was full of smoke but I saw a ladder that was there, and it was going up to an opening in the ceiling and I went up that ladder to the roof, and there were firemen on the roof and when they saw me one of them said, "Here comes another one, must be the last one," and then they grabbed me and shouted at me I had to crawl across a ladder over a big gap to a building on the Waverly Place side and they helped me climb up onto the ladder and I did this somehow with my dress burned and my hands burned, and I had broken ribs, it turns out, but I don't know how that happened in the commotion, and I kept my eyes closed, and it was like another nightmare inside this nightmare, but I did it, and there were some students who helped me over the wall, and then they helped me stand up, and then I walked down the ten flights of stairs to the ground floor of that empty building, and I was by myself and it was like everything was normal and quiet for a minute. But then I went out on the street and a policeman ordered me across the street, like I was just a busybody, because there were bodies falling everywhere and he said I could be killed.

So I crossed the street, and there were all these people looking up and so I looked up, and what I saw was so terrible, the girls jumping, jumping from so high up, they weren't like people, it was like watching insects or animals do something they have to do because they can't think for themselves, this one girl jumped and she tried to keep herself straight, I could see her trying to stay in a line, moving her arms like she thought she could just fall straight and land on her feet and be fine, but she died. Some of the girls were still on fire, lying there on the sidewalk, and the firemen turned the hoses on the bodies to put out the fires, and then one girl jumped and her skirt caught on the sign pole sticking out from the fourth-floor business, it was Blum, they had trimmings and notions, and she hung there screaming, and she was burning up, and then her skirt burned away and dropped her from that sign pole and she fell on the sidewalk, and she was still burning, and the sound was so terrible when she fell, like a bag of wet laundry falling. Some people on the street, they said afterwards, thought they were throwing out the goods to save them, in bundles, when they saw the falling girls, but it wasn't bundles of goods falling and making that terrible sound.

So then I walked to the corner where I could see the sidewalk on the Washington Place side because I was looking everywhere for my sister, where she would have fallen, and there were bodies everywhere and I was looking at them to see her but I didn't see her. I saw so many girls I knew in the street like that, and some of the men, the machinists, the cutters from over by the window where the flames came in. Some of the girls I knew only a few days but others I knew for a while and it was such a big shock, one would be burned black like a cinder but I would know the boots or the dress, and then another would be perfect and still beautiful except dead from the fall.

There were ladders for the firemen, but they didn't go high enough so they were useless, and there were firemen with another useless thing, a big net they were holding in the middle of Greene Street, and next I saw three girls at once, these girls were jumping into it holding hands, but they went right through this foolish net feet first, all together like that, and they hit the pavement and the force of the falling girls flipped all the firemen right into the net on top of the dead girls, it was just craziness-and then everyone was shouting and pointing and I looked up and I saw Sam, my fiance, in the window, it was all broken, there was nothing left of the window, just the big opening, and he was helping girls. He was still alive but I didn't see my sister.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from TRIANGLE by KATHARINE WEBER Copyright © 2006 by Katharine Weber. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

ABOUT THIS GUIDEThe questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Katharine Weber's Triangle. We hope they will enrich your experience as you explore her provocative approach to historical fiction and to the storytelling process itself. INTRODUCTIONMuch has been written about the notorious 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire that took the lives of at least 146 garment workers, most of them women. But Triangle, Katharine Weber's mesmerizing novel, brings a unique vision to the history and recollections surrounding that event. At the center of the story is Esther Gottesfeld, who at age 106 is the last living survivor of the gruesome tragedy. Her testimony was a crucial element in the criminal trial that ensued. When Esther dies, her few belongings raise new questions about her story, and two women find themselves at odds while trying to reconstruct the truth. Esther's granddaughter, Rebecca Gottesfeld, a scientist, has been raised to believe that chance enabled Esther to escape while her sister and fiancé perished in the sweatshop blaze. After Rebecca receives a call from the feminist historian Ruth Zion, she is both resentful and curious to learn that her grandmother had granted Ruth a series of interviews. Ruth's research on other Triangle workers proposes disturbing alternative possibilities about the nature of Esther's suffering and survival. With her partner, George Botkin, an ingenious composer, Rebecca begins to sift through new artifacts, wondering whether the discrepancies in her grandmother's stories were caused by ordinary human fallacy, or are the consequence of secret histories having been concealed in the remnants of an industrial inferno. The historian, the scientist granddaughter, and the musician each give voice to an essential, though sometimes conflicting, aspect of the fire and its repercussions.Leading us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths, Triangle is a brilliant ode to the memorial process itself, and to the lives lost on that terrible day.QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION1. Reread the poem by Robert Pinsky that opens the novel. What do you make of the way the poem blends past and present? In what way do various forms -- poetry, journalism, scholarly books, musical compositions, fiction -- complement one another in documenting history? What echoes did you notice between Pinsky's poem and the Triangle Oratorio with which the novel concludes? What similar reverberations occur throughout the novel? 2. What assumptions did you make about Esther after reading the recollections that form the first chapter? How did your perception of her shift throughout the novel?3. In your mind, what do George's compositions sound like? What was the effect of reading about the medical aspects of his music? In what ways does this mesh with the legacy of loss in Rebecca's ancestry? 4. What are the benefits and shortcomings of the Rebecca's DNA research? How does it affect her relationship with George? 5. What does George's failure to have a cell phone indicate about his character and sensibility? In what way does George's music weave science and technology into traditional and classical forms? 6. In the interview transcript featured in chapter four, what new details emerged that you had not noticed before in Esther's initial retelling of the Triangle fire? What defines her immigration story? 7. The profile of George, comprising chapter five, includes his own take on the cadences that inspire his music. What does this interview, alongside the one between Ruth and Esther, tell us about the various ways we view our own lives? If a reporter were to interview you about a significant incident in your life, what facts would have to be conveyed in your own words? What experiences would a reporter likely misinterpret? 8. What was it like to finally "hear" Ruth's voice in chapter eight? What conclusions had you drawn about her before she was given a voice in the novel? What is Ruth right about? What are her shortcomings? Why are Esther and Rebecca so resistant to viewing the fire through the lens of feminism? 9. Chapter eight opens with the inaccurate news story that reports Esther's death. What is the effect of her death date and its proximity to 9/11? What parallels exist between the Triangle tragedy and 9/11? 10. In chapter nine, Rebecca tells her therapist about the few memories she has of her father, realizing "she believed that her father wouldn't have died in the car accident along with her mother, that they would both be alive today if it were not for the Triangle fire. But Esther herself would have died years ago had she not been so busy surviving the fire so effectively." What universal qualities exist in this line of thinking? What is it like to be a survivor? What patterns does the mind discover in the randomness of tragedy? Was the death of Rebecca's parents "random"? Or the death of Morris Jacobs, in a fire no less? 11. How did you interpret Esther's habit of wearing eyeglasses that didn't perfectly correct her vision? What did you make of her comment, paraphrased by Rebecca in chapter thirteen, that "it was so she could see the world a little blurry on purpose"? 12. Why didn't Esther spend any of the money she received secretly after the fire? How would she have responded to the Triangle Oratorio? 13. What causes the shift in Rebecca and George's relationship, leading to marriage and a child?14. How much knowledge of the Triangle Waist Company fire did you have before reading Triangle? What details about the fire surprised you? What is the effect of reading a book that blends historical fact with fiction? 15. Had you pieced together the truth by the time you reached the novel's closing scenes, when the realities of Esther's and Pauline's experiences at the factory are revealed? What choices would you have made in Pauline's situation? 16. What are the key events in your family history? What discrepancies exist in the various accounts of it? To what do you attribute those discrepancies? Are there artifacts such as letters, legal documents, or family photos like the ones in the novel that could reveal family secrets or hidden truths if examined more closely? PRAISE FOR TRIANGLE "Katharine Weber's Triangle is a marvel of ingenuity, bridging history and imagination, astonishing musical inventiveness and genuine social tragedy. It is a wide-awake novel as powerful as it is persuasive, probing and capturing human verities." --Cynthia Ozick, author of Heir to the Glimmering World "Katharine Weber has always been a brilliant and ingenious formalist; at last she has found a subject deep and durable enough to bear the jeweled precision of her gaze. Here one of our most irresistible writers meets one of the most immovable events of our history. Triangle is an incandescent novel." --Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Stone That the Builder Refused FURTHER READINGDreamland by Kevin Baker; Brookland by Emily Barton; Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Elliott J. Gorn; The Jungle by Upton Sinclair; Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle; Up from Orchard Street by Eleanor WidmerABOUT THE AUTHORKatharine Weber is the author of the novels The Little Women (FSG, 2003), The Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. Her paternal grandmother finished buttonholes for the Triangle Waist Company in 1909.
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2006

    Personal Mystery

    Although not a particularly difficult book to read, Triangle centers on some of the most difficult decisions a human being can be confronted with. The interrelationships between the main characters--some living and others who appear as memories and flashbacks--present a spiderweb of lies and truth, choices that are irreversible. Our introduction to the central character is when she is an old woman, near death, whose life flashes before us in her last moments and whose secrets are uncovered finally.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2006

    In the do-not-miss category!

    For a relatively short novel, Triangle is jammed packed with ideas and stories interlinked and moving. It's the book I'm giving all my friends (and even non-friends). Using a relative's famous brush with death, the book pelts through a couple's contemporary life with insight, compassion and not a little humor. In fact, it's rare a novel that causes me to laugh, cry and gasp in horror in the space of three hours. Superb.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2011

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    Posted April 5, 2014

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted November 25, 2008

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    Posted May 6, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2011

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