Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fiction + Sewing = Happiness

When I can't sew (i.e. when we're camping), I love to read. I stumbled across 2 fantastic novels this summer that are related to sewing. I really enjoyed both of them, even though they had two very different settings.

"The Seamstress", by Frances de Pontes Peebles

This lavishly detailed if overlong debut novel set in 1920s and '30s Brazil follows two sisters who share excellent sewing skills, but take divergent paths into adulthood. (From Publishers Weekly)

I have never been a fan of "social studies", so I find it weird that I really enjoy historical fiction. Attaching characters to historical events completely grabs my attention, and I was further mesmerized by this story of sewing sisters and how differently they experienced life and managed to be connected. It's a LONG read, but I loved the descriptions of the treadle machines, the hand stitches, and the fine fabrics they worked with. Fascinating and educational.

"A Vintage Affair", by Isabel Wolff

When vintage clothing expert Phoebe Swift decides to abandon her career as a Sotheby’s auctioneer, she opens London’s Village Vintage, selling only the best recycled designer duds. However, it isn’t long before we discover that the cupcake dresses and alligator clutches that populate her quaint neighborhood shop aren’t Phoebe’s only baggage. Reeling from the death of a close friend and the subsequent collapse of her wedding engagement, Phoebe is in need of a change. She certainly loves the clothing she sells for its history, but it takes a new and profound friendship with the elderly client Mrs. Bell to show Phoebe to care for herself in the same way. Although the novel is sometimes predictable, UK best-seller Wolff keeps us entertained by sending a few courtiers Phoebe’s way and threading intriguing wartime historical fiction into Mrs. Bell’s backstory. Readers with a passion for couture fashion will appreciate (and feel vindicated by!) Wolff’s well-researched and intricate descriptions of beautiful, significant vintage pieces. While the dialogue is occasionally a bit bloated, this book is a smooth read with enough flair and fun for the beach or the pool. --Annie Bostrom, from Booklist

I just finished this one today, and it was so enjoyable. Set in modern day England, but the story connects back to WWII. Again, I was hooked into history by the characters in the book! Pretty predictable (and I much faster read than the previous book), but the discussion of vintage fashion trends and the popularity of vintage threads was very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!

Nothing new to share. We went camping this week and enjoyed playing on the beach of Tawas Bay, riding bicycles, and touring a lighthouse. I have the leather cut and ready to stitch, but I've got to report to work Tuesday and Wednesday to ready my classroom and prepare for my students. I got the urge to purchase a new bag for school (a tote to bring carry graded papers and my iPad), but after seeing the prices online, I'm considering making my own. Bunny and Ann? If I go this route, I may be scouring your blogs for advice! If any of you have Vogue 7982 (OOP), and want to sell it, let me know!


Bunny said...

Ooh, I don't have that one. It's really nice. I do have a pattern, Vogue 8406 that has a nice messenger bag that would work well for your goodies. It's up on the blog now, View C.

Thanks for the book reviews. I will see if we can get them for our library.

Right now I am reading Anthony Bourdain's "Medium Raw". It's so funny and entertaining I want it to go on but am close to finishing.

Nancy said...

I picked up The Seamstress at our local library book sale and am looking forward to it. You might also enjoy "The Time Inbetween - a Novel" by Maria Duenas.

a seamstress/spy novel set in Morocco/Spain right before WWII.

Anonymous said...

I have read the Seamstress and enjoyed it too. I would second The Time In Between. It is in a similar vein to the Seamstress but packed with a lot more sewing and fabric details.

annie said...

I have it and would be glad to lend it to you.

Kristine said...

Really, Annie? You are WONDERFUL! I can trace it off, and ship it back to you. Please email me: Thanks so very much!

Sara Noemi said...

I really love A Vintage Affair. So much so, I may just re-read it again after seeing your synopsis. I'll have to see just how long the other book is.