Friday, November 3, 2023

The Thread Collectors

The Thread Collectors
  The Thread Collectors
Author:  Shaunna J Edwards and Alyson Richman
Publication Information:  Graydon House. 2022. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1525804820 / 978-1525804823

Rating:  ★★★★

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and the HTP Summer 2022 historical fiction blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "She opens the door to the Creole cottage just wide enough to ensure it is truly him."

Favorite Quote:  "As everyone around her knew, there were so many ways to not be free."

More and more, I find myself starting a book with the author's note which usually appears at the end of the book. I love reading the author's motivation to write the book. For historical fiction, I love seeing the research done and the history referenced. Often, in historical fiction, I find myself researching the actual history for it always teaches me something I did not learn from the history books. More often than not, historical fiction leads me to history I may never otherwise have learned.

When there are two authors, it is fascinating to read about the collaboration. "The novel is loosely inspired by our own backgrounds and is born from our decades-long friendship as a Black woman and Jewish woman, each proud of their heritage. We wanted to explore the Civil War experience through two underrepresented lenses and illuminate the important and often overlook tragedies of this era. But we also wanted to show how ingenuity and creativity can bridge cultural divides and create power for the seemingly powerless." The two authors have taken the background of history, research into that history, and stories of their own families to create this composite. This historical fiction is not of a particular true event but rather individual threads collected together to weave together a picture of a time and place.

The threads of this books are literal and figurative. Literally, the threads are precious fabric and threads gathered from other garments to create maps for slaves trying to find their way to freedom. The threads are also the quilt a wife sends her husband fighting a war far away. Figuratively, the threads are the love and the tenacity that binds these characters and helps them endure the horrors of slavery and war.

Underlying it all is, of course the tapestry of the Civil War - horrifying stories of slaves and slave hunters and inspirational stories of those fought for freedom, equity, and the ideals of our nation. As the cover suggests, the focal point of the book are the women; they are the thread collectors. What makes this story unique among others of the same time period is the combination of perspectives - Black and Jewish. Black in the south and Jewish in the north. The Jewish perspective on the Civil War is not one I have read about before. It was sad to read about the prejudices and constraints that existed in the north and the south. Although the Civil War is now history, it is sad to see how many of the conversation about prejudice and bigotry still exist. At the same time, the book is inspiring in its story about how individuals can make a difference, one action at a time.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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