After the Fog

Written by Kathleen Shoop
Review by John H. Manhold

This novel is set in the steel town of Donora, PA in 1949 when an unusual weather pattern caused by stagnation of the overlying air that mixed with the poisonous smoke billowing endlessly from the steel mill furnaces. The numerous deaths and untold numbers of respiratory problems actually led to government intervention. The story’s protagonist is Rose Pavlesic, a community nurse responsible for a large section of the population. She is a highly efficient but controlling and demanding individual whose contumacious activities unfortunately extend to her own children, her loving husband Henry, and their extended family. Rose’s attitude is the result of abandonment to an orphanage as a child and buildup of an inordinately heavy psychological burden that begins to unravel simultaneously with the worsening city’s condition. This is a well-written story set authentically in a historic place and time, around an intricate plot which includes most of the elements that provide for a good “soap opera,” or a book that would be accepted by Oprah Winfrey. If you do not enjoy this type of fare, this probably will not be your cup of tea.