Maybelle in Stitches
By Joyce Magnin
Abingdon Press, 2014
Maybelle Kazinzki can't sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother's house she gets the crazy idea to finish it---somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.
Her recently departed mother's quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother's childhood, her grandmother's childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden's stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful---no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.
Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories.
I enjoyed Joyce Magnin's addition to the Quilts of Love series, Maybelle in Stitches. Filled with somewhat "quirky" characters that I loved, Joyce paints a vivid picture of the women who stepped up to do their part in the war effort, particularly giving us a glimpse of what it was like for women to work at Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock in Chester, Pennsylvania. While the story has a cozy, feel-good style, the realities of loss and often just not knowing about a loved one's situation are very present within its pages.
Maybelle, a welderette at Sun Ship, took the job in an effort to keep her mind off of missing her husband, but also because she was needed. Maybelle had become a part of a small group of army wives whose husbands were fighting in Europe - "a group that worked together, laughed together, ate together, and far too often cried together." Her best friend, Doris, and one of her boarders, Roger, are strong secondary characters. There's a lot of nostalgia here, and I loved the mentioning of things from that era that I can remember from my childhood - Little Orphan Annie, Burns and Allen, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Rexall Drugs, etc.
But the main character is the quilt itself - a "crazy quilt" design that Maybelle's mother had started. What began as a project to keep them busy quickly turned into a symbol for hope - hope that the war would end soon and that their husbands would come home safely. "The crazy quilt with all the family memories sewed into it was about family, everything the boys were fighting for." Every square, patch, seam and stitch was prayed over, and they even named it "Hope."
I loved the way Doris was always able to comfort Maybelle, especially with this thought that brings comfort to us as well: "God knows precisely where all His sheep are, every second of every day."
Joyce has a way of making the characters seem so down-to-earth and real. I enjoyed Maybelle in Stitches and recommend it to those who like World War II settings and are looking for a cozy, relaxed read.
Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Meet Joyce online at www.joycemagnin.blogspot.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also be sure to visit the Litfuse Tour post.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.