Continuing the series on fiction with sewing and quilting themes, today we look at books with quilting as the main theme. These books are in the genre of women’s fiction, kind of a catch-all category of stories about real life, life challenges and family dynamics.
One of my favorite series in the genre of women’s fiction is Marie Bostwick’s Cobbled Court Quilts Series. Beginning with A Single Thread, the main character is blindsided by a divorce, and takes off on a trip to Connecticut. While she is there, she finds an old storefront, abandoned and in disrepair. Deciding to pursue a long held dream of owning a quilt shop, she settles there and begins a new life. Ms Bostwick tackles some tough issues in her series, each book with something to make you think. In A Single Thread, Evelyn battles cancer. In the second book, A Thread of Truth, the members of her quilting circle befriend an abused woman, and deals with domestic abuse. Throughout the entire series, the small town life, and deepening friendships between the women of the quilting group endure and grow.
In A Thread So Thin, a younger member learns to know her own mind and assert herself. The fourth in the series deals with economic hardship in Threading the Needle. The fifth novel titled Ties that Bind delves into the life and aspirations of another quilter, who upon turning 40 tries to accept that she might always be single. The best thing about these novels is there is no foul language, no violence, just life and all its ups and downs. The reader begins to care for the characters, and reading the next installment is like visiting old friends.
I have the next one on my to-be-read pile, and plan to get to it soon. Apart At The Seams promises to return to New Bern, and Cobbled Court Quilts with the introduction of a new character. Gala is trying to find her way after discovering her husband had an affair. I expect that this book will be in keeping with the series, with women supporting each other in times of crisis, finding solutions and learning about themselves. It is definitely a series that will tug at your heart.
The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg is about a quilter who discovers a family secret. As siblings gather for an annual reunion, the middle child reveals that she was the victim of physical and emotional abuse by her mother, but the siblings have a difficult time believing the revelation, as it is years after the events. The siblings are in their 40s and 50s, and this comes out of the blue. What memories are real and what are imagined slights by a drama-queen personality? Interspersed between the chapters are little reminiscences of childhood, like looking at an old photograph. Reviews are mixed on this one on Goodreads, but I found this book engaging and interesting. There is only a little quilting in the book, and interesting to read about her very well stocked studio, however I am not sure the author really quilts. A couple of statements don’t make sense to a real quilter, like cutting strips of fabric 3/4-inch wide – ummm, the strip would end up 1/4 inch wide, what good would that be? And another about applique being less expensive for a custom quilt than piecing, again, what? Obviously, the author hadn’t done both. But, a quote from near the beginning of the book is thought provoking. “As for mending, I think it’s good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away… You’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: if you’re careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is a testimony to its worth.” How true, in quilts and relationships. There are lessons here, mainly about letting go and appreciating what is now.
I would put all the Jennifer Chiaverini books in this classification too. In addition to the novels we talked about earlier, she has written a number of small little books, mostly around holidays. These are sweet, easy, and quick-reading books, and all of them are just charming. Shorter stories and short chapters make for good snack reading. Snack reading is what my friend Patty calls just a little bit of reading when you don’t have a lot of time, like 5 minutes just before bed.
Have you read any of these books? Are you a snack reader sometimes?