Today is already our final day of the Literary Sewing Circle focusing on Susanna Kearsley's Bellewether! 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.
Today's post also gives us the chance to talk about our reading experience a little more. If you haven't yet had a chance, check out our first discussion post for some specific questions and feedback from readers. Here are a few general things to think about and share here as well.
Did you enjoy this novel? Did you have a favourite character? Was there a theme which particularly resonated? What part of it stood out for you as your inspiration for your project? Was there anything you didn't like about this novel? Had you heard of it prior to this readalong? Were you aware of the 7 Years War before reading? Did you recognize any of the personalities in the story? What did you think of the mix of narratives? Do you like a pinch of the supernatural in your stories? Are you interested in reading any of Kearsley's other books now?
Here are some of my thoughts on this novel.
I read it first in 2018, when it was published. I loved it then, and I've really enjoyed rereading it and looking at it from a new perspective, while thinking about themes and sewing projects.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts, there is so much I love about this book. I like Susanna Kearsley's writing in general; her style and themes are right up my alley as a reader. I enjoy a dual narrative story, and in this one, the connection being made both through family history and through Charley's work as a museum curator appealed to me. People who spend time working with the past seem likely to feel strong connections to it! I liked Charley as a character; with all of the sadness and trouble her family has seen, her vitality is still there. She is an intelligent worker, a caring aunt and daughter, a determined business person, and a good friend to her new acquaintances. I did question her romantic judgement quite a bit -- I might have even liked to see her romantic storyline downplayed a bit in relation to the overall story. And I also enjoyed reading about Lydia. She felt like a strong and complex character, one who fully inhabited her life. Her romance also felt more organic to me, and the storyline she was living was more uncertain and held more drama, to me.
I liked the complexity of relationships in the book, too. Though it seemed like there were a lot of players, it felt rich to me; often in romantic stories the leads seem isolated or living in a vacuum of sorts. In this story, family and all of its tangles played a large part in the plot and in the way both characters navigated their lives. This feels very real and served to highlight one of Kearsley's points in this story, that we are all connected and our actions have real effects on other people, personally and in a wider sense too.
The settings were also appealing to me. I was a history nerd as a kid -- I read many books about Colonial America, about settling the Canadian West, and about Champlain and Quebec (weird, I know) and I loved novels like The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare that were set in colonial New England. So I really connected with this setting. The era of Wolfe and Montcalm is so fascinating to me, and one of my favourite university classes during my history degree was one in which I examined the writings of Francis Parkman to uncover the literary techniques he used in his 'histories' of Montreal and Quebec. So I loved the descriptions of Quebec, the officers' uniforms, the differences between Quebec born soliders and France born ones, the status of Jean-Philippe's family, the plight of the Acadians, and all of those things. The descriptions of Lydia's New York and Charley's New York sparked some ideas too!
And I like a soupçon of the supernatural in my stories. The ghostly element in this one was very gentle and much more of a traditional ghost than in some others by Kearsley. I thought it added just that little bit of chill now and again, and the reveal at the end was charming rather than shocking. I liked the idea of a protective ghost! The way that Lydia and Jean-Philippe's legend had been passed down, like a game of telephone, was also intriguing; what does it say about history in general? What can we trust, what should we investigate further? And that applies to stories and rumours today too! So there was a lot I liked about this book, and a feel-good read that does not leave you ragged is sometimes just the thing. I hope you all found it a timely read also.
And now for my own project! I had many ideas I was mulling over, but I think I've decided on the one I'm going to make. I have a fabulous cotton with a New York themed print -- actually it's an IKEA sheet that I thrifted a while back. It's a neutral colour but has highlights of yellow on it which make me think of that splash of Lydia's yellow dress that brightened Jean-Philippe's miserable first day on his way to the Wilde farm. I am most likely going to make a shirtdress, as the fabric has a lot of body, so my inspiration is coming from the scenes in New York; the modern setting of Charley's era and the hint of Lydia coming through.
If you are currently making plans, please feel free to share them in the comments, too -- I'd love to see them. Or if you are posting about your thoughts on the book somewhere else, share that link also.
What project have you made, inspired by your reading of Bellewether? Share a link to your project post here! Links are open until May 1 so you have another 3 weeks of sewing time to finish and share.
Don't forget that any finished project shared by the deadline will be eligible for a draw for a free pattern either from Closet Case Patterns or Jalie! Get your projects in!