Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

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.

This novel is part of The Quilts of Love series and you can find out more about them here.

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 am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. She lives near Philadelphia. You can find out more about her and her books at

Abingdon Press, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse Publicity for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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