A Single Thread
By Marie Bostwick
Kensington Books, 2008
I so enjoy picking up those month-after-Christmas bargains! On a recent visit to my local K-Mart I made out like the proverbial bandit — turtlenecks with little embroidered snowmen and snowflakes for a dollar, pretty, colorful vests with cardinals and holly, even a few Christmas CDs marked seventy-five per cent off. On my way to the checkout counter I couldn’t pass by their nice selection of paperbacks without stopping for a moment to take a peek. Moments turned into… well, more than moments as I opened the covers of romances, mysteries, and spine tingling thrillers. What was I in the mood for?
At first I almost passed by this trade-sized paperback with its bold red cover featuring needles, tape measures, and spools of brightly colored thread. Because what did I know about sewing? But the gold foil sticker on its cover informed me it was a Need to Read book, so I skeptically opened to the first page. Written in the first person, the novel read like a letter from a friend and by the third paragraph I was completely hooked.
When her husband of twenty-eight years asks for a divorce, fifty-something Evelyn Dixon is devastated. On a spur of the moment decision she leaves her home in Texas for a visit to New England to view the fall foliage. When she stops for the night in the small town of New Bern, Connecticut, it seems she has discovered a storybook village come to life. A simple, white church dominates the town square, surrounded by charming red-brick storefronts with hand-painted signs and restaurants that serve good, sturdy meals.
When she stumbles across a cobbled alleyway and there discovers an abandoned drug store, Evelyn looks beyond the chipped and faded red door and sees her lifelong dream of owning a quilt shop. She takes the plunge and leases the building, renting the small upstairs apartment and thoroughly leaving her old life behind. With faith, creativity, and determination she creates in Cobbled Court Quilts not just a quilt store, but a quilting community. When she decides to host a quilting event to benefit breast cancer research, Evelyn makes friends with three of New Bern’s residents; Margot Matthews, an unemployed marketing genius, Abigail Burgess Wynne, town dignitary and millionaire, and Abigail’s brooding, Goth niece, Liza. When Evelyn receives the devastating news that she has breast cancer, these unlikely friends pull together and support her. The three start a Friday night quilting group, which turns out to be about so much more than quilting as the four women share friendships and hardships, sorrows and secrets. Each comes away having learned a life lesson and their lives are enriched one hundredfold.
The short, crisp chapters make for easy and quick reading, and the story is alternately told from Evelyn and Abigail’s viewpoints, lending a delicious sense of intimacy to the story. The author’s descriptions of the town and the colorful collection of people who populate it are exquisite and the themes are as touching as they are timely. The only problem I had with this book was that its many happy coincidences made the story seem a bit unrealistic. Call me jaded, I had a tough time swallowing that perfect strangers would put their lives on hold, coming wholeheartedly to the aid of someone they barely know. Nevertheless it was refreshing to visit a world in which such a thing could happen. Despite its tear-jerking, soul searching moments of sadness, the overall tone of the book is very upbeat. This is a beautiful, feel-good story that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys books about women and their relationships.
Reviewed by Honeybee