Book Review: The Last Ballad

Wiley Cash. The Last Ballad. New York, N.Y.: William Morrow, 2017. 384 pages. Hardcover. $26.99.

Reviewed by Jessica Cory

Wiley Cash’s third novel The Last Ballad is a suspenseful tale based on a historical event. The novel follows protagonist Ella May Wiggins and a wide cast of narrators, including a northern porter, a wealthy mill owner’s wife, a demoted yet trigger-happy police officer, and an alcoholic monk, through the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the 1929 Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, North Carolina, a small city nestled in the Appalachian foothills and Cash’s hometown.

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Jessica Cory is a native of southeastern Ohio now residing in western North Carolina where she teaches in the English department at Western Carolina University. Her work has been published in a variety of journals. She is also the editor of Where the Sweet Waters Flow: Contemporary Appalachian Nature Writing, forthcoming from West Virginia University Press.

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