The Forgotten Seamstress

Written by Liz Trenow
Review by Amy Watkin

Two women’s stories are interwoven in this dual-period novel about love, loss, and betrayal. Readers get pieces of two women’s stories and wonder how they will all come together in the end. Trenow begins with Maria Romano’s turn-of-the-20th-century tale about becoming a seamstress at Buckingham Palace, which seems believable enough, but was she also Prince Edward’s lover? In present-day England, newly single and unemployed Caroline Meadows finds a quilt that holds many memories for her and was even more important to her grandmother. But where did it come from, and is it as unusual as it seems? How is it connected to Helena Hall Mental Hospital? Readers will piece the puzzles together at about the same pace as Caroline, making for a nice mixture of page-turning mystery and comfortable, homey story of a woman nearing forty, making a new kind of life for herself.

Trenow’s historical detail regarding mental hospitals and fabric is not only specific but also integral to the story and at times quite emotional. She does an excellent job of weaving the plot action with the historical information. The pattern of the quilt helps unwind the mystery surrounding it, and ambitious readers can visit Trenow’s website to find an actual pattern to create their own version of Caroline’s quilt.

You do not have to be a quilter, however, to be drawn into the stories of these two women. The book is ultimately about people, our memories, and the lengths we will go to in order to protect ourselves and each other. It’s a compelling read, and I highly recommend this book.