Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Oysterville Sewing Circle

The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs
HarperCollins: 8/13/19
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062425584

The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs is a highly recommended heartwarming domestic drama.
Caroline Shelby returns to Oysterville, Washington, a small town on the Pacific coast, after living in New York for ten years. After a career as a fashion designer/seamstress who was working her way up to some major recognition, her success collapses due to an unscrupulous employer and subsequent blackballing by the fashion industry. Caroline is struggling along, but when a tragedy occurs and she is suddenly the guardian of her best friends two children, five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick, she knows she needs to return home in order to take care of the children. She also needs help after being suddenly thrust into the role of mother to two grieving children.

Caroline never thought she would return to the small town of Oysterville, but once there, she knows she made the right decision as she has the support available to help her raise her children. With her arrival is the complication that her childhood best friend, Will, is now living there with his wife, Sierra, another friend. Caroline never really got over her feelings for Will, but is able to set that aside. Caroline also reconnects with Mrs. Lindy Bloom. Lindy is the woman who inspired Caroline and taught her to sew at her sewing shop. What Caroline learns now, as an adult, is that Lindy was abused. This knowledge along with the stories of other women inspires Caroline to start the Oysterville Sewing Circle, a domestic violence support group and business where women can join together  to encourage, support, and assist each other through the abuse and secrets they keep hidden.

The writing is very good in The Oysterville Sewing Circle, a women's fiction domestic drama. The narrative alternates between the present and past. The past events cover both Caroline's time in NYC and her childhood in Oysterville. The NYC sections explain what happened to her and how she became the guardian to Flick and Addie. Her childhood backstory covers her friendship with Will and Sierra, and her fleeing to NYC. The chapters set in the present show how Caroline is adapting to motherhood and flourishing under her current circumstances. Wiggs has shown the way to integrate current social topics and concerns (illegal immigrants, domestic violence, MeToo movement, drug usage, unethical employers) seamlessly into a novel without throwing every controversial topic into one novel. Wiggs then subsequently handle the topics in a serious, sympathetic, and feasible manner.
The characters are complex and react in a believable manner; they are full of clear abilities, faults, longings, secrets, and hidden strength. Caroline's ability to start up a business with talented people available to help her is a little farfetched, as is the love story.  Some serious threads of the plot are summarized rather easily, but you sort of know right at the start what is going to happen. And you know what, it's all okay. It may be predictable, but there are some wonderful highlights and serious topics, all handled in an understandable and thoughtful style. This is a perfect choice to read for escapism and entertainment.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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