September is National Sewing Month, and this year I am going to take a different approach to the celebration. Oh, not to worry, there will still be plenty of sewing this month, projects and quilts, but this time I am going to do several book reviews for fiction with a sewing or quilting theme. When you start to look, there are a lot of books set around sewing and quilting, so I’ll have more reviews for you this month. Just so you won’t think I am doing this all this month, I had the idea a couple of months ago and started pulling novels with this theme to get a head start. As usual, I will give you the ones I recommend as well as the ones you should leave on the shelf.
First up, The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. I was surprised to read some of the other reviews and went into it thinking I might not like it. But, for the most part, it is an enjoyable read. Jennifer Chiaverini writes character studies, not action novels. The backstory for the quilters who came together with one common purpose was the story. Normally I would take longer to read, savoring each short story withing the larger convergent novel, but I just got interested. I liked that it was set at a quilt retreat, and as I make Project Linus quilts myself, I was also happy to see that real life charity depicted. In some ways it was difficult to read about the economic struggles and the loss of loved ones, but that is real life. In the past this author has been criticized for not being real enough. I didn’t take the points of view as attacks on anyone in particular or of any political view. But then, I don’t typically go looking for a fight in the pages of a novel. Having said that, this author is able to write whatever she wants, and if her point of view differs from mine, I hope I will heed the advice of the librarian and engage in dialogue, not just dismiss what I might not agree with. And I hope she keeps writing. I have enjoyed all the Elm Creek novels, not so much her historical civil war novels though.
Next was A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. This is the first novel I have read by Anne Tyler, and it won’t be the last. Stories of family, daily living and the struggle against hardship are a nice break from mysteries. This one is just that kind of story, with characters that you like, ones you want to slap sideways, and ones you just wish weren’t part of the family. Just like my family, so I can relate. I did not care for the middle section of the book, though, as manipulative Linny and weak Junior that gets manipulated (all while knowing that he is being manipulated) irritate me to no end. I also don’t care for long sections of flashback, if you need that much time then rearrange the story and put that part first. I originally picked up this book for the title, thinking that sewing would be a part of the story, but it wasn’t. The spool of thread makes an appearance at the end as a symbol in the life of the aimless character, Denny, who maybe has a bit of insight at that point. Overall, a good story, but just four stars. I will read another Anne Tyler in the future.
Just in case you missed it, I reviewed the Needlecraft Mystery series by Monica Ferris in July. While not exactly sewing, it is set around a needlecrafting store – cross stitch and crewel are sewing of a type, aren’t they? Anyway, I like this series, and recommend it as well.
So, there are the first ones for this series on sewing fiction. What are you reading? Have you read any of these?