Friday, October 29, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Finale & Project Round Up

Today is already our final day of the Literary Sewing Circle focusing on Simone St James' The Sun Down Motel!

I hope you've had the chance to read the book, and both the first and second inspiration posts, and are getting lots of ideas for a project of your own. 

The project linkup will be added to the bottom of this post: as soon as you are done your project, just pop a link to your post into the linkup and we will all be able to visit your blog/instagram etc. and explore your creation -- remember, it can be sewn, or knitted, crocheted, embroidered... any textile art that you practice.

I shared a lot of my thoughts on the book in our earlier book talk post, and I reviewed this novel on my book blog when I first read it. You can explore those for some of my thoughts; today I'll share an overview of my impressions of this novel. I hope you will too!

As I noted when this round began, I have read all of Simone St James' books. I like the gothic woman in jeopardy kind of read, and a bit of a supernatural element thrown in always makes it fun. I find that there has been quite a progression from her first book (ghostly historical romance) to this one -- each one has become a little sharper and more contemporary in feel, and in The Sun Down Motel it has really become a true crime thriller. Her forthcoming novel is all true crime again -- The Book of Cold Cases features a true crime blogger and a suspected murderer. I'm not sure I'm following this trajectory though; I'm not a true crime fan and prefer a more gothic tale, so we'll see how I mesh with the next one! 

I enjoyed this novel though. I was really drawn to the 80s timeline, and Viv's dark and lonely character. She seemed so driven but also increasingly obsessed with the murders of the three women in Fell. I found it an intriguing character study. And of course the discussion of violence against women and the way it is perceived and treated by media and law enforcement was thought-provoking. Carly's interest in finding out what had happened to her aunt just highlighted how little things have changed. 

I did prefer the nostalgic gloss on the 80s chapters though. It felt a bit Stranger Things in a loose way, that evocation of an era where people could truly disappear and safety was less of a public concern. The set up -- isolation, hauntings, obsession -- really drove the story and I thought the ghostly visitations were creepy but not terrifying - that's the level I can take. 

I also found the focus on women in this book was a strength. Viv, Carly, but also their varied roommates and Viv's compatriots Alma and Marnie, as well as the backstories of Viv's mother and sister, all deepened their story for me. The centre of the book was women's lives and experiences, and I found it compelling reading. The style was readable and overall I enjoyed the narrative arc, though I did find the ending fell a little flat. The big showdown was great, so frenetic and scary, but then it kind of petered out a bit. 

Questions for you all: What did you think of the ending? Did you agree with or understand Viv's decision at the end? What do you think is going to happen to Carly and Viv next? If there were to be another novel set in Fell, NY, what do you think it might focus on? 

(my quick thoughts: I didn't like the outcome for Viv at the end, I didn't think that was necessary to the story. I would hope she and Carly would be able to live together and develop a proper relationship, to give this storyline the closure it needs. As to another book, that weird little classics college is a perfect setting for another academic gothic!)

Please share your thoughts on the book, its themes, characters, or anything you noted about it -- either in the comments here or on our first Book Talk post, or on your own blog with a link to your longer thoughts in the comments so we can find it. I love to talk about the experience of reading so feel free to comment no matter when you're reading this post; if you've read this I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What project have you made, inspired by your reading of The Sun Down Motel? Share a link to your project on this post as soon as you're done! The linkup will be live until November 19 --  you have another 3 weeks of sewing time to finish and share.


  1. Hi Melanie,
    I put my photo on Instagram (took me ages ... hope it worked!) A blue dress with an 80's vibe. Elizabeth Haywood zero waste design. Although not a wrap style, I was thinking how to incorporate purple flowers, but couldn't come to a satisfying conclusion that I would wear. I don't own a dress, so this is quite a step for me!
    Loved the story, I think I particularly enjoy and can relate to the era, and quite fascinated by how society acts in certain situations. Trying to make sense of it all, and how some things never change, despite discussion and awareness of issues.
    I would read more of this author's books, quite enjoyed the style.

    1. So glad you found it a good read! And I saw your dress, way to go! I love the colour and 80s style. Definitely a new step for you that was really successful :)


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!