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Roxanne Reviews "The Cold Millions"

Roxanne reviews The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Booksellers have a joyous pressure to keep up with the latest books, and while I haven’t had time to tackle Jess Walters’ New York Times Best Seller Beautiful Ruins, I’m much more likely to carve out the time having just finished his new novel, The Cold Millions.

To say that Walters’ historical fiction set in the early 1900’s city of Spokane is analogous to our present day strife is an understatement. Disparities in wealth distribution, labor force struggles for both satisfying work and a living wage were also problems over a century ago. In addition, terrible storms, forest fires and violent protests disheartened those of yesteryear creating a fear that the ‘end’ was near.

Yet The Cold Millions offers hope as Walters’ storytelling voice is akin to the antique gold you see in old photography, possessing retrospective beauty.

Walters’ choice of using a real life women’s rights and labor union heroine, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who helped create the ACLU, was inspirational; her revolutionary spirit infusing the novel with joyous tenacity. The other main character, Rye Dolan, a humble itinerant worker just coming of age, adds innocence to this jaded time in history.

The novel possesses enough suspense and emotion to entertain fans of both western and classic historical fiction respectively. Intellectuals will also be titillated with Walters allusions to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, including the presciently sage quotation, ‘the strongest of all warriors are these two-time and patience’.

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