For August we are going to read How to make an American quilt by Whitney Otto. 


The book was originally published back in 1991, but there are plenty of second-hand copies available on Amazon (some are sent from the United States, but they still cost under £10 including postage). Your local library may also have a copy as it has attracted a bit of publicity. Alternatively, there is film version from 1995, with Winona Ryder in the lead role.

The book, including the Prologue, is written by Finn Dodd, who is about to marry Sam. Before getting married she decides to spend some time in Grasse with her grandmother Hy Dodd and Hy’s sister Glady Joe Cleary; also known as the Flower Girls.

Alternating chapters include instructions for various quilt patterns and historical facts, whereas the following chapter tells the story of each of the eight women who are part of a quilting circle. The quilting circle is working on making a wedding quilt for Finn.

Quotes like “A pattern by its very nature, should repeat. It is your nature as well. To do as your mother did. As much as you hate it, as much as it grieves you.” take on a very different meaning when it is used to hold daughters back, to stop them from creating their own futures, rathe than follow in the mother’s footsteps, as she’s followed in her mother’s.

Another quote that caught my eyes were “A quilt, though stitched together, will always be separate, individual parts”. This was used in the context of marriage and how you give away a part of yourself to someone who is seldom home.

Final quote, this one directly incorporating quilting, “All sashing will divide, but some will enhance, bring out the best in the blocks, while others will dull the blocks, hide their original beauty. Marriage, too, can heighten the wife’s colors or consign her to listless hues and shades”.

There is also a theory why women are attracted to and marry men who break convention or why older siblings should be tossed out like pancakes.

There is a political undertone throughout the book.

Join our online Book Club

Head over to the UKQU Book Club to discuss the book (click Forum to find the Topics).

The book for September will be revealed towards the end of August.