Sewing Fiction Stories About Life

Continuing the series on sewing fiction,  I received an advance reader copy of Birds in the Air from the author.  I think Frances could tell by my blog that I am a quilter that reads, and asked if I would like to read her new book.  Of course, I said yes, as it was set around a quilt show in a small town in North Carolina.  Right up my alley.  Later I found out that not only is she a resident of NC, but she has been quilting for a number of years too!  I did not promise her a review, she sent it with no strings.  But guess what, it is a wonderful story.

Birds in Air

Birds In The Air by Frances O’Roark Dowell is named for a quilt block, and I had to look it up to see it.  Amazing, Tango has that basic shape in it.  The story involves a woman whose family moves to a small town in the mountains of NC.  Her husband and daughter settle in quickly with job and school, but Emma needs something to do.  Finding an old quilt in an attic trunk is the catalyst for searching out the local quilt shop.  She is not a quilter to start with, but that quickly changes.  Through a series of events, she ends up learning to quilt as well as becoming the publicist for the local guild’s quilt show.  That doesn’t sit well with some of the members who consider her an outsider.  Conflict with another guild member creates a disaster for the quilt show, and help comes from an unlikely source.  The story is interesting and told in an easy to read style, and I found it difficult to put down.  I also like that Emma is happily married, as many of these series begin with a divorce so the woman can find her own way.  I like that a married woman can also find her own way while having a family and a committed relationship.  I finished it in just a few days.  The book will be published on September 24th, and one lucky reader will get a copy from the author.  Just comment on this post. Giveaway is over.

Books with a Sewing Theme ~ From My Carolina Home

The second book to tell you about is The Florabama Ladies Auxilliary and Sewing Circle by Lois Battle. This book is also set in a small town, with a newly divorced woman moving there for a job. This book was another one where the title is misleading. There is a sewing bit in the last third of the book, but it isn’t explored as well as it could have been. The story follows the ladies as they are downsized out of jobs, and try to find their way in new situations, returning to school and finding work. The sewing circle becomes a way to make some money, but even that has a disaster that the central character should have seen coming, I sure did. It annoys me when a woman is portrayed as just being stupid, making idiotic choices. So, I cannot really recommend this one, there are better books to spend your time reading.

Sewing Fiction Series on From My Carolina Home

Then there is Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing, but I almost wall banged this book halfway through.  That is where the book is so bad you throw it against the wall to avoid wasting any more time on it.   The dialogue is stilted, (no one really talks this way), being bludgeoned with platitudes, overly perky ‘blog posts’, and has completely unrealistic plot with an even more unrealistic conclusion. It seems to be written by someone very young and idealistic, but the world doesn’t work this way. I’m sure I’ll be branded as a “negative nellie” as stated in the novel to be ignored as someone unhappy with their life, but I am very happy with my life thank you very much.  And if you cannot handle criticism, you will never grow.  This story had so much potential, a fresh point of view and story of achieving dreams with determination, but didn’t deliver. The characters never really captured my interest. It left the impression of being a Young Adult novel written by someone who hasn’t really had any similar experience, rather than being a novel of accomplishment through hard work. After all, how many 30-year-old protagonists with two years of grunt work experience (and two degrees, really?) get made CEO of a multi-national company? NOT!! Pass this one by unless you are in your 20s. There are much better books to read.

Vintage Affair2

One of those better books is A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff that I reviewed last year. The book jacket describes this story as centering around a woman, Phoebe, who opens a vintage clothing store. She likes to think about the woman that owned a garment before her, what her life might have been like. When she encounters an elderly French woman who wishes to sell some of her garments, Phoebe finds a new friend with a story of her own. What the jacket doesn’t say is that both women are trying to overcome a tragedy in their lives. There is a connection between the two women in that each blames herself for circumstances beyond her control. The revelation of these circumstances to each other helps each woman to come to terms with the past and give light to the future. This isn’t a sad story, it is a beautifully written journey with hope. The descriptions of the clothes will make a textile enthusiast drool with happiness. She describes 1950s prom dresses with bustier tops and frothy net petticoat skirts as cupcake dresses. There is lovely detail in the descriptions of Vivienne Westwood skirts, a Balenciaga dark blue silk evening gown, and a pleated evening gown by Madame Gres, along with other items. It makes the reader want to visit this store and feel the fabrics, admire the buttons and peruse the hats and jewelry.  I’d really enjoy spending an afternoon there.

I recently found another book to add to Mt TBR (Mount To-Be-Read), The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham set in 1950s.  It was made into a movie starring Kate Winslet last year, but I don’t remember seeing it in the theaters here.  It is set in Australia, and is categorized as Australian revenge comedy.  It was nominated for a number of Australian film awards and won several.

Are you reading any sewing fiction from this series of posts? Or any sewing fiction?  Comment to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Birds in the Air.  The drawing will be by random number, and will take place on Saturday morning, Eastern Daylight Time in US.  Drawing is open to readers anywhere in the world.  Drawing has been held.

If you missed the first three posts on Sewing and Quilting in Fiction, click on Quilting Fiction, Sewing Mysteries, and Sewing Fiction.

Sharing at – Rattlebridge Farm Foodie Friday and Everything Else, Whoop Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Quilts, Val’s Tuesday Archives

68 thoughts on “Sewing Fiction Stories About Life

  1. Vicki Wilson

    Birds in the Air sounds like a wonderful book club option as I have several in my club who have homes in NC mountains and/or quilt! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

  2. Birds in the Air sounds like an interesting book. I hadn’t thought of it, but I’ve not seen/read many books with happily married women and how they evolve in their lives. I’ve enjoyed your reviews and have made a list of books to read. Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. Irene Anderson

    Thank you for your book reviews. I enjoyed reading A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick that you recommended a few weeks ago. A Bird in the Air sounds wonderful also! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

  4. I will look for Birds in the Air at my local library. If they don’t have it, they might be able to get it through the library exchange program. I appreciate the warnings on the other books. I enjoy reading, but it is so hard for me to find a book that is really interesting and not just stupid. I did get the dressmaker from our library but quit reading it after 3 chapters. If a book hasn’t pulled me in by then, it isn’t going to and I won’t waste anymore time reading it. Maybe if I had seen the movie I might have given it more of my time. Blessings, Gretchen

  5. Barbara Jenkins

    I, too, am an avid reader as you know. Marie bostwick’s novel was a great read. Looking forward to “Birds in the Air”.

  6. Ruth Coleman

    Birds in the Air sounds like something I would love to read. I just love your blog & can’t wait to read as it always has something interesting.

  7. Joyce Comfort

    Thanks for your book reviews. I, too, love to quilt and to read. However, we have a family rule that we must finish what we start—even books. I hate trashy fiction and seem to share your enjoyment of good, clean, wholesome reading. Thus, your posts are saving me from wasting money and time on books that really are not worth my time and giving me good titles to add to my “to read” list. I got the Cozy Series on my Kindle and have finished 3 this week along with 2 quilt blocks and a table runner. I have actually. Learned some things about quilting through the stories. Enjoying your blog posts! Congratulations on your ribbons at the fair! Joyce Comfort Ellenboro, NC

  8. Kathy Bertelsent

    Oh yay… Thought I would let you know of another great author. Her name is Karen White and she writes mysteries around old homes in South Carolina Love them… Again thanks for your recommendations

  9. Myrna

    good morning Carole
    I also enjoy reading your book reports, I just finished Quilter’s Knot by Arlene Sachitano it was a wonderful read I will read another of this author. ” Birds in the Air” that might be my next book? ” A Vintage Affair” by Isabel Wolff is being added to my list also.
    We have a quilt show this weekend in our local town of Vernon BC, so looking forward to all the colour and how it all goes together. We are also into fall with the trees so colourful. Love Colour. Enjoy your day

  10. Thank you for another great book review post! How wonderful that the author sent you an advance uncorrected proof to read – so lucky for us. And, thanks to the others commenting for their recommendations.

  11. debby

    I enjoy your book reviews and would love to win a copy of Birds in the Air. My mother has quilted for years and I made my first quilt last year. We are both avid readers and are always on the hunt for great books. Thanks for the chance to win.

  12. Genia

    The book reviews are always interesting. Some I have read and now have new ones to add to my growing list. The trailer for The Dressmaker is on IMDB. It’s in theaters this month or next.

  13. Jennie Rauch

    Birds IN the Air sounds like one to put at the top of the To Read list! I appreciate that you don’t recommend everything that comes along, but really tell it like it is! Thanks!

  14. cahirasnana

    Birds in the Air will be put on my wish list of books I want to read. I love reading and especially love reading books with a quilting theme.

  15. Cheryl

    Carole, I haven’t read the books on your review lists yet but am making a list based on your reviews. Many sound like books I would enjoy. Birds in the Air will be on my list for a certainty.

  16. Joye

    I live in South Carolina and love to visit the NC mountains. Plus, I quilt and think I would really enjoy this book. Thanks for the suggestion and the chance to win.

  17. Jennifer

    Thank you for the book review. It sounds very good. I too added to my growing “to read list.” I have also added many of the books mentioned here by others. Always looking for a good read. I too enjoy quilting and knitting. I will be suggesting Birds in the Air to my book club.

  18. Celia

    How nice to discover this author lives in NC also. It’s nice to hear your review. I would enjoy reading this. Thanks for the chance to win.

  19. Sue Stubbings

    I hope you enjoy the Dressmaker, it is a wonderful story and the movie is great as well. If you can find it I would recommend watching it just for the fashion and fabric and the characters are just awesome

  20. Regarding Birds in The Air, imagine someone becoming hooked on quilting when first being exposed to it later in life! I find it amusing because I started quilting in at the age of 54 after my husband’s retirement and the move to our forever home. I was blessed to find a great group of experienced quilters to mentor me nearby.
    I too appreciate books about happily married women finding their niche and purpose in life. It’s not like we lose our identity as individuals just because we are married to a wonderful man. That actually just enhances our individuality, especially when they are supportive of our purpose and interests, hopefully as we are of theirs. My husband calls himself my Quilter’s Support Staff, and he truly is.
    I really look forward to being able to read this book. I never have a Mt. TBR because I’m such a voracious reader. I instead have a Mt. TBSS (mountain to be shelved or shared) and am always looking for new material.
    I do appreciate your posts on books.

  21. Shirley Elliott

    I read A Vintage Affair a few years ago and enjoyed it. Would love to read Birds in the Air. It sounds wonderful. My favorite quilting fiction series is Emilie Richard’s Shenandoah Valleyou series. I even reread the series this summer. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the giveaway.

  22. Denise force

    Thank you for reviews. Now my ” to be read” list is also longer. Have read ” quilt ” theme books as well as tea shop,knitting shop ,and bookshop owners tales. Will put Birds in the Air on my library’s recommend to buy list.

  23. I’m always interested in reading books with a sewing/quilting connection, and this one sounds like one I’d enjoy. I appreciate your book reviews and take your advice on which to read, which to skip. Thanks for the guidance.

  24. I forgot to mention that I’m in the middle of the Shenandoah Album group of 5 books by Emilie Richards. Each title contains the name of a quilt block. My favorite books are ones with familiar characters and a familiar setting. It’s like reading about old friends, and I can jump into the story quickly. The Shenandoah Album books are thoroughly enjoyable.

  25. Birds in the Air sounds good. As you say it’s nice to have a central character who is happily married. Sometimes I get annoyed with TV shows and novels where it appears that in order to be the heroine/a main character you have to be unhappily married or divorced. (I’ve been happily married for 28 years and that includes a number of life’s ups and downs).

  26. Judy Morin

    Originally I had planned a “Birds in the Air” quilt as my “Empty nest” quilt to be made when my youngest went off to college. However, my smart husband kept me so busy that last summer and fall that I never felt the need to start it – perhaps when the youngest grand child leaves for college.

  27. kathyinozarks

    Good morning, I wasn’t familiar with these books so I enjoyed the reviews. In the past I had gotten hooked on the Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini there were allot of books in the series, a few quilt pattern books and even a cookbook-I think I had read them all up to a couple years ago thanks for the reviews.

  28. Gail Rachow

    Birds in the Air sounds intriguing to me. I would love to read it. I have been trying to read a few local authors since moving to NC. Quilting has always been an interest, but put on the back burner since moving here. I turned my creative outlet to card making and Scrapbooking. Making the tee shirt quilt for my grandson, has rekindled my quilting desires. Thanks for sharing about the books you are reading.

  29. There were several that looked like fun reads from your prior sewing fiction post. But Off the top of my head I don’t remember which ones. I need to go back to the post and write the author names down so I can have them with me when I next visit the used book stores here. =)

  30. Vicky

    I want to thank you for doing this series of book reviews about quilting novels. These types of books aren’t as plentiful as all the others. It is nice to maybe know which ones to look for. I look forward to reading Birds in the Air.

  31. Hi Carole. I’d like to enter your giveaway. I love the honesty in your reviews too. Never heard of a wall banger coined in this phrasing but totally understood before your explanation. One book I’d recommend is the Dressmaker of Khair Khana. Good read and it makes you appreciate the liberties we have. Check it out.

  32. GrannyC

    I have read all the Jennifer Chiaverini books. The books in your post seem like terrific reads – thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of Birds In The Air. 😊

  33. Terri van Gulik

    I love reading too! Since I started quilting about 5 years ago, my time for reading has really dropped. I read a book about a year ago called The Forgotten Seamstress. It was a really intersting story involving quilting.

  34. Barbara Beernink

    Birds in the Air sounds like something I would love to read! Thanks for your reviews! It’s really nice to not have to waste my precious reading time on a ‘wall banger’! 🙂

  35. Cindy

    Love your book reviews. I too have trouble putting down a really good book. Would love to win this one. If not, will have to look for it “in stores soon”.

  36. Ruth

    Hi Carole, Really enjoy you book reviews. I’m keeping a list thru “evernote” of books I want to read and have added some of your recommendations. The Dressmaker” with Kate Winslet release is this weekend.

  37. Diane

    I’m so pleased to hear that Frances O’Roark Dowell has a book involving quilts!! I’ve read her young adult novels and I had a chance to meet her quite a few years ago at a Battle of the Books competition with my students. This is definitely going on my reading list. thanks so much for your book suggestions.

  38. JoanG

    I’ve read a number of the series you have reviewed. I love a good cozy mystery and would love to win a new book to read.

  39. Marsha Kruze

    I couldn’t find your blog post fast enough in the Books A Million bookstore this evening. Their web site said they were open til 10 and we were kicked out at 9. I was so disappointed. Now I am putting your recommendations in my Anylist App so I can find them easily in the future. At least I got an issue of a quilt magazine.

  40. Connie

    I am glad to hear the review of the new book Birds in the Air. It sounds like something I would read and greatly enjoy. Thank you also for doing a giveaway too! 🙂

  41. So happy to read your reviews. I am always looking for that next book. I think I read a Vintage Affair last year. Gotta check my kindle and see. The plot sounds familiar, but I read so much and I can’t always remember titles.

  42. piecefulwendy

    I didn’t realize you did book reviews until I read your post today. This is great — I enjoy having some good suggestions for reading, as well as which to avoid. Thanks for posting!

  43. Nancy Lindstrom

    This sounds like a great book–would love to win it! I really appreciate the honest reviews. And I like reviews of books about quilting, sewing, etc. I especially like cozies. I read mysteries, but too often any more they are very descriptive of violent murders/rape. These days I read mostly for entertainment/relaxation and don’t like the graphic descriptions.

  44. Margaret Miller

    Just found your blog. Thanks I am retired academic librarian and a quilter and I am always looking for good books to read. I have been disappointed so many times so I am glad for a place to find the good ones.

  45. shoshana

    hard to tell which is harder to stop, quilting or reading a good book!! your blog is always on my list of yes to open, thanks so much. your pictures always remind me of home!!!!

  46. dezertsuz

    I’m still reading the books where the lady inherits the needlework shop after solving her sister’s murder. I’m on book 4, I think, Raveled Sleeve? Something like that. Still holding my interest. =) Birds in the Air does sound interesting.

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