Title: The Lace Makers of Glenmara
Author: Heather Barbieri
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours
First line: Kate had been traveling the road for hours, the rain her sole companion.
All that day and into the evening, their fingers flew. The patterns of the lace were everywhere, if the women opened their minds and looked past the sorrow: in a horse’s mane, butterfly’s wings, blades of grass, sprigs of ivy, spiderwebs, drops of rain, the waves of the sea, the feathers of a lark, the lines on a face, in their very own hands. The lace could be anything they wanted it to be. It was the lace of dreams, the lace of their imagination. At the end of the day, they looked at their callused fingers, amazed they’d made such extraordinary things, the threads connecting each woman to the one beside her, and out into the wider world.
Kate Robinson was supposed to be traveling through Ireland with either her mother or her new husband – but, instead, she’s doing it alone. Her mother died of cancer; her fiance left her for a model with a trust fund. Kate decides to take the inheritance from her mother and go to Ireland anyway, hoping maybe the home of her ancestors will give her a fresh start. She ends up in Glenmara, the edge of the map as far as Ireland is concerned. Bernie, a lonely widow, rents Kate a room, loving the fact of someone else walking through her recently empty house.
As Kate gets to know the women of Glenmara, they teach her the craft of lace making. Kate gives the ladies an idea for updating the lace with a modern and sexy twist, but not everyone is happy with the idea. The village priest, Father Byrne, wants to keep Glenmara steeped in the old ways and traditions – and will fight tooth and nail to protect his congregation from what he sees as sin and temptation.
This book has everything I love about good contemporary fiction: authentic characters, beautiful description of the setting, and gorgeous writing. Kate is reeling from the losses she has suffered, and the women of Glenmara take her into their hearts and homes. This isn’t a book where everything is fine as soon as the women find each other, though – because real life is never tied up that easily. The women experience opposition, loss, abuse – as well as true friendship, love, and joy.
This was a perfect read for the Ireland Reading Challenge – and I recommend it for anyone who loves great women’s fiction like The Jane Austen Book Club, The Knitting Circle, and The Professors’ Wives’ Club.
(A review copy of The Lace Makers of Glenmara was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it for this blog tour. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.)