|Patch Work / Claire Wilcox|
London: Bloomsbury, 2021
I've been wanting to read this book for a while, so was quite happy to have come across a copy of it and snapped it up. It's a thoughtful read, part memoir and part textiles -- the author works in museums in the textile field so her life and the theme of textiles as memory and part of daily life are interwoven.
I know some readers didn't want so much personal info, but I really liked it. The chapters were short sections; it felt at times like some were long prose poems. I found it very quieting reading - I slowed down and considered what she was sharing, and found many moments beautiful.
Because she works at the Victoria & Albert, there are decades of clothing and textiles that she and her colleagues work on. And with that comes, necessarily, a consideration of time and what it does to our lives and to the remainders, the textile ghosts we leave behind. This is "patchworked" in to stories of her own life, her childhood surrounded by sewing, her own journeys, her children and so on. None of the stories are chronological -- they are just shared as they come to mind, it feels. The sections are like vivid recollections, the stories of important moments that you tell in life, not all orderly but as they occur to you. There are also a few black and white photos interspersed and that adds to the haunting feel of nostalgia, memory, and the past that permeates her work and her storytelling.
I liked the writing style, and found the arrangement of the book reflected the themes. Moving backward and forward in time, capturing what could be captured, sharing the stories behind things -- all of this has to do with the textiles she works with as well. And somehow never being able to get a firm grasp on the real story of anything... I felt the style added to the content here, although it did put off a few readers, judging from other reviews.
But if you are interested in the more esoteric meanings of clothing, time, and history, and you love a beautiful writing style, you might like this one as much as I did. My degree was in English and History, and my current obsessions are all textile based, so perhaps this one just checks all my boxes. If you need to slow down a bit, and dream, and read small bits at a time, pick this up. This is one that I would dip into again; it's easy to pick up and read a section and put down again, just to savour one moment. I was enchanted with this read.
A very good feature and interview at the Guardian if you are interested in learning more.
Thanks for the review. This sounds like an interesting read and might make a good gift for a quilt-mad friend.ReplyDelete
It's very interesting! Hope that your friend will like it if you go this route for her gift :)Delete
What a fabulous sounding book! And reading the Guardian review, she is very passionate about the stories behind clothes. I see she has written many other books, since the 1990's. Some are in our library, but in the Reading Room of the State Library at the other end of the state. However, I have put a hold on 'Patchwork'. Intriguing.ReplyDelete
It's really unusual, and I was engaged by it. Hope you'll click with it too.Delete
Thank you so much for this review and for the link to the Guardian article. She sounds like such an interesting person. I'm intrigued by the range of reviews on Amazon. There is truly a book for every person, and not every book is for everyone! I think I will enjoy reading this one.ReplyDelete
Yes, the GoodReads reviews are all over the place too ;) But I really enjoyed it. She is a fascinating person.Delete
Lisa Laree, who blogs at Sew Random, wrote yesterday about a garment she was altering for a church production. She wondered about its history in her blog post here: https://sewrandom.blogspot.com/2021/11/looking-at-make-do-job.htmlReplyDelete
While I am waiting for this book from the library, I have just read the same author's book 'A century of Style - BAGS'. It is fascinating!!! Great history and inspiring. I have always been a one bag type person, same bag every single day apart from one other bag on the rare occasion I go out at night. But reminiscing on all the styles has also made me keen to have a go making a bag or two. Or even noticing bags in the second hand shops. There are some really quirky features I would enjoy.ReplyDelete