The Tobacco Wives
August 16, 2022
Myers makes a sparkling debut with a coming-of-age tale about the limited opportunities available to the women of a tobacco town. In the spring of 1947, 15-year-old Maddie Sykes assists her seamstress aunt in Bright Leaf, N.C. When Etta is hospitalized, Maddie takes over Etta’s client list, sewing gowns for the wives of the top tobacco executives. Mitzy Winston, Etta’s most valued customer and wife of the president of Bright Leaf Tobacco, takes a maternal interest in Maddie and invites her to live in the Winston home. The teen’s initial enchantment with the town—its seemingly happy workers and uniform prosperity—is dashed when she stumbles on a confidential letter in Richard’s study from a doctor who helped create Bright Leaf’s new MOMints cigarettes, marketed for women, which reveals cigarettes are harmful to pregnant women and infants. Maddie then finds out about a cover-up and begins to recognize that the women around her are being unfairly treated, from factory and field workers to the executives’ wives, whose contributions to the businesses go unpaid, and she considers blowing the whistle about the letter. A good historical fiction read!