This novel had the feel of three connected short stories.
Mary Coin was a migrant worker in 1936 in California after her young husband died, leaving her with 6 very young children. She took her children from farm to farm as she searched for work, living in the car or a tent in extreme poverty.
Vera Dare was a photographer on a quest to document migrant labourers. She left her 2 children with another family while she travelled to search out subjects. Her photograph of Mary with some of her children became famous.
Walker Dodge was a present-day professor whose ancestors owned the orchards where the migrant workers had struggled to survive. He searched out the story of Vera's photograph and discovered a genetic link to Mary's family.
The writing was exquisite! In fact, at times, I felt that it overwhelmed the story. I kept stopping to appreciate the author's descriptive metaphors and similes.
"She knew her death was near because time had begun to fold like a fan so that the past and the present rubbed together in ways that made her feel supple and porous, as if time were moving through her body and not the other way around."
"Trevor was a good son and a loyal man, a quality that had kept him with women who loaded all their unhappiness onto his broad back like he was a mule and then left without collecting their baggage."
The idea for this novel came from the story of a famous photograph "Migrant Mother".
Dorothea Lange took that photo in Nipomo, California in 1936.
And that photo, "The Migrant Mother" is used on the cover of Marisa Silver's novel, "Mary Coin".