Coffee and a Review with Ribbons of Steel by Carol Henry

images3Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I know mine was busy so I definitely need my coffee today.  Today’s review is a brilliant historical fiction about a time of train travel and unions.  Carol Henry crafts a wonderful story with significant historical points interwoven throughout the story.  For my full review be sure to keep reading after the book blurb. Many of you don’t know but this will be the final Coffee and Review of the Year.   I will see you guys again with great books and reviews starting in January.  Be sure to stay tuned this week for a fun promo I will be doing and my final Fresh Face Friday.  Have a great start to your week.

18904447Book Blurb:

Charley Carmichael’s loyalty may be with the Pennsylvania Rail Road’s main man, Mason Aderley, but his heart lies with the men who work the rails. With the railroads cutting wages, a major strike is imminent. Caught up in the riots and bloodshed sweeping the continent, Charley’s friends are threatened; workers are dying. Charley’s life turns tragic when his wife is diagnosed with consumption.

Emily, forced to leave her family due to her health, travels to her cousin’s home in the California Territory.  A damaged trestle prevents her train from crossing a ravine, stranding the passengers with nowhere to hide when an Indian hunting party causes a deadly buffalo stampede. Fearing for her life, Emily worries she will never see her children again.  Who will care for them should her husband not survive the railroad strike?

Set between a farming lifestyle in the rolling hills of south central New York and the gritty railroad realities of Philadelphia, this is one family’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.


Charley Carmichael is working the rails in Philadelphia when news of an impending wage cut hits the railway works.  Words of strike and union begin to be thrown around.  Deep down Charley is for the strike but due to his family situation he is playing middle man between railway workers and management.  Meanwhile, Charley’s wife Emily has been ill for some time.  She is diagnosed with consumption and must go out west for her cousin to care for her.  This leaves her children in the care of her eldest son, Seth and eldest daughter Catherine.  Though the children manage to take care of each other the trials that the entire family feels is universally connected with the railroad.  Everything from Charley’s involvement with railway riots, Emily’s train ride west or the threat of the family farm being unable to sell to the city due to a possible railway shut down.  The months apart for this family makes for a wonderful three-tiered story that in the end will still leave you guessing about the family.

This was a fantastic historical journey.  I loved the layered story and how it was all connected through the railroad.  In most stories you wonder how families left to the background are supposedly coping.  Carol Henry makes them as important as Charley and Emily.  In fact I found myself drawn much more toward the life of the children on the farm than any of the other pieces.  It did disappoint me that we didn’t have closure with what happens with Seth and the rest of the Carmichael children once everything is settled.  I hope that there is a sequel in the works because this inquiring mind wants to know.  It wasn’t just the story or the historical threads that kept this story going.  The characters grew and developed through the story as if this were a true story of a family in 1877 during the railway disputes.  Overall, this was a wonderful book and I would definitely recommend it to any history buffs.

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