Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062425584
Hardcover, $26.99, 365 pages
You don't need to know anything about sewing to appreciate Susan Wiggs' latest novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, as the sewing circle is not exactly what the name implies.
Caroline Shelby is trying to make a name for herself as a designer, working in New York City for popular designer Mick Taylor. He has used many of her designs for his sucessful line, and Caroline is on the cusp of becoming famous herself as she is entered into a contest for new designers, and poised to win with her creative designs for pregnant women and new moms.
Her new life takes a turn when Taylor steals her designs and then her best friend Angelique dies, leaving Caroline with two young children to care for. Caroline drives Flick, six years old, and Addie, five years old, across the country to her family home in Oysterville, Washington.
Caroline's family takes them in, even though Caroline hasn't been close to them since she left town for New York ten years ago. Her mom and dad own a restaurant on the waterfront, and her two sisters and two brothers are all a part of the restaurant business.
The first person Caroline runs into as she enters the town is the man she has loved since she was a young girl. Will and Caroline were best friends as children, and just as they were beginning to become something more than friends, beautiful Sierra moves into town and sets her sights on Will.
Will, Caroline and Sierra were best friends, until Sierra and Will became a couple and a heartbroken Caroline stepped aside, never telling Will of her feelings. With Caroline back in town, they all resume their friendship, but things have changed.
Caroline comes to love Addie and Flick, and has to decide whether to pursue legal guardianship of them. When she designs some cute outfits for them to go to their new school, the parents at the school love them and Caroline soon finds herself designing children's clothes.
She also feels guilty about her friend's death, and wants to help women who are suffering from domestic violence- thus, The Oysterville Sewing Circle is born. With the help of her sisters and some friends, they create a safe space for women to come and share their stories and get help.
Wiggs creates characters that are believeable and in this time of such discord in this country, it's wonderful to read a story about people who genuinely care for each other and root for each other to win. Even in the conflicts between characters, each one is a good person trying to be true to themselves.
The difficult subject of domestic violence is handled with honesty and dignity, and it reminded me of Dorothea Benton Frank's The Hurricane Sisters, which also dealt with the subject. (My review is here.)
I hope that Wiggs' returns to Oysterville again, as there are more stories to be told here; I'd like to know more about the Shelby siblings. I recommend The Oysterville Sewing Circle for anyone who likes a story of resilience and friendship.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Susan Wiggs' tour. The rest of her stops are here: