Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick, Touching Summer Read

Just in time for summer comes The Lace Makers of Glenmara (available next Tuesday). I'm a sucker for books set in Ireland (note the entire Maeve Binchy library over there in my GoodReads widget), and this one hits all the notes: lousy weather, rugged terrain, mysterious travellers, witty elders.

Kate is fleeing a failed relationship, a failed career move and her mother's death. She takes the trip to Ireland that she'd been planning to take with her mother, and ends up stranded in the tiny hamlet of Glenmara. She happens into a circle of lace makers, each with their own sorrows and challenges. The characters are typically Irish in their reticence to both air dirty laundry and show emotion, but the new project of designing lacy lingerie in the hopes of stimulating the economy in the impovershed village forces the women to face themselves and their challenges head on. It also provides Kate with a distraction from her past, and a way to gain confidence in her future.

Although at times the Irish stereotypes are a bit trite, Heather Barbieri shows glimpses of brilliance in her descriptions of the ruggedness of both land and people. The narrative from each woman's point of view shows us (and Kate) that every woman has her trials, almost everything can be survived, and the beauty that exists in every relationship lasts beyond death.

It's a fairly quick read, perfect for summer trips or lounging on the porch swing. And you'll probably never look at lace the same way again.

(reviewed for Mother-Talk)

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