The story centers around three women from different backgrounds. Abbie, a white woman from a wealthy Boston family is disowned by her family and comes west with the stable boy. Cassie, a black woman who dreams of singing on stage in Dallas Texas, but follows love to the coal town in New Mexico, and an Italian immigrant who leaves her family and country to join her husband working in the coal mines.
The tragedy brings the diverse women together the night of October 22-23, 1913. As they wait for news of who lives and who dies, they seek comfort in the similarity of their circumstances. To pass the time, they share their stories of their lives and struggles and forge bonds which are made in The Waiting Shadows.
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Here is an excerpt:
Left in the voracious fire’s wake, the mine shuddered, rocked below and above.
The miner, whose lamp initiated the catastrophe, saw only a bright white-hot light. His eardrums collapsed under the force of the blast. Thrown against the timbers and covered with rock and dirt, he knew nothing more. Others nearby heard only the blast before being smothered underneath tons of earth.
A few dazed men, covered in blackened dust, stumbled out of the entrance, supporting one another. One scorched man, then another and another—they coughed, choked for air. Long seconds passed before a few others made their way to daylight. Fifteen climbed out of the mine before too many minutes passed.
Beneath the land more than two hundred and fifty remained buried. Souls from all parts of the globe: Italy, Greece, Ireland, Austria, Mexico, Slovenia, Bohemia, France, Hungary, Russia, Scotland, Croatia, Poland, and Americans—black and white.
It was a little after three in the afternoon on October 22, 1913.