Joyce Magnin in her new book, "Maybelle in Stitches" Book Sixteen in the Quilts of Love Series published by Abingdon Press brings us into the life of Maybelle Kazinski.
From the back cover: A patchwork quilt holds together two hearts separated by miles of ocean and the Second World War.
Maybelle can't sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in her mother's closet, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it's just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden Kazinski, is away fighting in World War II.
Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will returnâ€”to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.
History, World War II, Quilting and Shipbuilding. Quite a mix and, on the outside, it seems difficult to write a story combining all these elements. Fear not, Ms. Magnin has captured them well and provided an excellent story. The men are off fighting but the jobs needed to be filled so the women stepped up to the challenge. Maybelle becomes a welder at a shipyard. She has never been a welder in her life however she is up to the challenge. She has never sewn before either but accepts that challenge as well. This is a story about spiritual growth, about stepping out of your comfort zones and of relying heavily upon God. All kinds of events happen and it takes a rock-hard foundation upon God to keep her grounded. Maybelle and the rest of the characters are outstanding and wonderful to be with and learn about. Ms. Magnin has done an outstanding job of bringing history to the table. There is a lot in this book, much to think about and it just interesting and exciting as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The time is World War II and the place is Chester, PA. Maybelle and several other women are working at Sun Ship, welding plates on new ships. They are young women helping support the war their husbands are fighting overseas.
Maybelle's life takes a serious turn when her mother suddenly dies. As she later goes through her mother's room she finds an unfinished quilt. Her friends identify it as a Crazy Quilt, one made from scraps of memorable material such as dresses, shirts, and baby blankets. They encourage her to continue her mother's work. But there is only one problem: Maybelle can't sew. She did, in fact, sew the zipper into the neck opening of her dress when in high school. But they offer to help her. It will help pass the evening time, especially after she receives the notice that her husband is missing in action.
This is a novel that concentrates on the working women of the period. There is lots of dialog of the time, like, "None of your beeswax," and "Okeydokey." There are lots of other indicators of the time. Remember oleomargarine and Burns and Allen on the radio?
The novel is not quite as emotionally wrenching as I thought it might be. Maybelle really misses her husband, as do some of the others. When one of the women gets word that her husband was killed, she seems to take it in stride. God is her stability but I was a bit surprised that she was ready to consider romance again in a couple of months.
There is not a great deal of action in this novel, nor is there much character development. In that respect it is what I might describe as light or low key historical fiction. It concentrates more on revealing the era than dealing with the character interaction. This might be fiction older (as in elderly) readers would enjoy, something quite nostalgic.
In the Author's Note, Magnin says she wanted to paint a picture of what it was like for women to work at Sun Ship. That aspect of the novel is based on the actual shipyard that made and repaired ships during the war.
Discussion questions have been included for reading groups.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
This book is about Maybelle Kazinski, a welderette for Sun Shipbuilding and Dock in Chester, Pennsylvania. Maybelle was newly married when her husband was called off to war. Now he is missing in action and she is left to wonder if she will ever see him again. Her friend, Doris is determined to help keep hope alive so when Maybelle finds an unfinished quilt her mother had been making, Doris insists on gathering a few ladies to help finish it. It is a crazy quilt made from material that Maybelle identifies as scraps from her family history.
Maybelle is pretty disheartened by her own lack of skills when it comes to things like sewing, cooking and cleaning, all of the things most women know how to do, and she gave up repeatedly. Her best friend, Doris, was always there to encourage her and nudge her along and I loved that. Everyone needs that kind of friend in their life. Everyone really came together as a group to finish the quilt but it was much more than that. They were all women fighting for the same cause. They all had loved ones at war and each knew the other's sadness and pain. They were a sounding board for each other, a shoulder to lean on. I love that the book was about the war. I love war torn stories. Reading about the devastation and havoc of war can really speak to a person and touch their heart in a deeper way. I did find it a little slow, however. I kept waiting for the pace to pick up but it never did. The storyline was good and I liked the characters but it failed to really draw me into the story, to hook me. It was set in 1943 and the language and setting was true to that time period. One of the major sayings in the book was "what a gas" or "it's a gas". I thought that was great. Anyone that likes sewing or the background of the war efforts (it was mostly about building and repairing war ships) will like this book. If you like a fast paced novel it might not be for you.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
World War II placed numerous women in the work force to aid in the country's war effort. The characters in Maybelle in Stitches are employees of a famous shipyard, the main character and her best friend working as welders. The women in this story are waiting for their husbands to arrive home from the war, passing the time together, visiting and sharing sad news as well as good. The main character's mother died, and when Maybelle was cleaning out her mother's things she discovered a quilt her mother had started, and numerous odd pieces of fabric. Those fabrics turned out to be pieces of cloth saved from clothing her family had worn, pieces of Maybelle's baby quilt, etc. A quilting group eventually formed to piece together memories of the past and the present, bringing these women together not only to create a warm bed covering, but a bit of hope to their lives.
It is obvious that a lot of research went into the writing of this book. The details regarding the shipyard and the type of work that women were doing throughout World War II was interesting. I enjoyed the camaraderie that developed between these women while putting together a crazy quilt of memories. I had a bit of trouble staying focused while reading the daily details of the characters, and the repetition. This book could have used more editing. There were a few discrepancies, etc. The last few chapters were quite enjoyable and I enjoyed the creation of the crazy quilt of memories.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
I found the storyline of this book very rich and fascinating. I can't say that I like World War II because it was an absolutely horrid war. However, it is a good setting for a story. I really liked the how the quilt not only tells a present story, but also a past story.
The past story is a reminder of Maybelle's mother, as she finds this unfinished quilt in her mother's closet. It's also a reminder that she will constantly look at and remember the time, emotions, and thoughts she had while her husband was lost at war.
At one point, I became overwhelmed by all the problems and bad news this circle of quilters were receiving! I know life can be like that at times, but I felt like I just wanted them to have a moment to breathe. My heart sunk to know Maybelle's husband and the love of her life was missing. I can not possibly begin to imagine all that you feel when you hear news like that, although I'm well aware that may through the years know exactly what that feels like.
I like the Quilts of Love series and reading how each quilt tells it's own story. I like reading the different authors, too, because they bring new styles of writing and new stories that make me want to read every one of these books in the series.
I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group and Abingdon Press in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.