Bachelor’s Puzzle

Written by Judith Pella
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

Zach Hartley has been on the run ever since he fled an abusive stepfather at the age of twelve, but now (1882) that he has angered a gangster in Portland, Oregon, his life is truly in danger. Fleeing south in search of safety, Zach seizes the opportunity to pose as the new circuit minister that the congregation in Maintown is expecting. When he is welcomed into the community with the gift of a quilt—pieced together by all the unmarried girls—Zach realizes that his deception may bring him more trouble than he can handle.

The two Newcomb sisters are as different as silk and denim: Ellie loves the challenge of creating an intricate piece of needlework, but Maggie would rather slop pigs than sew a seam. In the same manner, readers of Bachelor’s Puzzle will react to this story according to their own fondness for handicrafts: Some will relish the detailed descriptions of cloth selection; others will find them tedious. As would be expected in a novel by Pella, this is an inspiring story about a man who learns that the Master Quilter is forming the ragged pieces of his own life into a beautiful work of art.