This year, we’re debuting The Colette Book Club—an online book club that explores the meaning and making of clothing.
In this club, we’ll read any book that enhances our understanding of sewing, from historical fiction to fashion philosophy. If you like to think about the roles that style and creativity play in our lives, you’ll love the Colette Book Club.
We’ll read a new book every six weeks. You don’t have to finish the book to join in the discussion. Between discussion posts, you can chat about the book using the hashtag #ColetteBookClub.
It’s time to dive deep into books that unravel hidden truths about sewing. Join us, won’t you?
Book 1: The Forgotten Seamstress
Our first book is The Forgotten Seamstress, a lovely novel by Liz Trenow that will delight mystery lovers, textile nerds and fans of Downton Abbey.
This novel tells two stories. The first concerns Caroline Meadows, a 38-year-old Londoner. Caroline is a little depressed—her life is okay, but it’s not working out the way she planned. Then she discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother’s attic. The impeccably worked quilt presents a mystery: no one in Caroline’s family sewed it, and it contains patches of an exquisite century old silk woven exclusively for the British Royal Family. Caroline’s family has no connection to the monarchy. Where could these scraps of silk possibly come from?
The second tale is the fantastical life story of Maria Romano. Maria (now deceased) claimed to have worked as a needlewoman at Buckingham Palace from 1911-1918. Most people who knew Maria thought she was delusional—after all, she had spent 30 years in an English mental institution. But even crazy Maria—or “Queenie”, as she’s known—has secrets that she barely dares to share.
As Caroline tracks down the truth behind the quilt’s origins, her story entwines with Maria’s, and secrets are revealed that could change her life forever.
By turns tragic and hopeful, The Forgotten Seamstress is a moving testament to family, friendship and creativity. (I read it on a plane and cried a few times!)
We’ll discuss the book on this blog, six weeks from now, on February 15. We’ll announce the next book on the same day.
You can find The Forgotten Seamstress at bookstores or at your local library. It’s also available in most e-reader formats and as an audiobook. There’s even a free Kindle preview so you can try the first four chapters for free.