Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow

Title: The Forgotten Seamstress    
Author: Liz Trenow    
Published: May 2014, Sourcebooks Landmark
Format: ARC e-book, 320 pages   
Source: Netgalley   

It is 1910 and Maria, a talented young girl from the East end of London, is employed to work as a seamstress for the royal family. As an attractive girl, she soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales and she in turn is captivated by his glamour and intensity.

But careless talk causes trouble and soon Maria’s life takes a far darker turn. Disbelieved and dismissed she is thrown into a mental asylum, shut away from the real world with only her needlework for company.

Can a beautiful quilt, discovered many years later, reveal the truth behind what happened to Maria?

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Liz Trenow and I really enjoyed it. It's a dual narrative story that comes together like the pieces of a patchwork quilt. But the interesting fact is that we never actually "meet" one of the narrators.

I really have come to enjoy stories that include a present-day storyline infused with a story from the past. What I loved about this particular book is that the story from the past comes to us from family stories, interviews that were tape-recorded and letters.We get to know Maria from all this and never really meet her. I think this gives a completely different perspective as to Maria's character. We learn about her through these things, giving us an intimate look into her life.

When Caroline comes into possession of the quilt, she becomes obsessed with it. She's just lost her job and decides to take the time, while growing her new company, to find out the story behind this quilt. Little did she know what she would uncover.

The two characters, though years apart, have similar journeys and this is what brings the story to life, in my opinion. It really ties the stories together, and then as secrets are discovered and revealed, you see the threads and how they bind one to the other.

I also appreciated the historical look into psychiatrics in the twentieth century. Liz Trenow clearly did her research into this and it provides for a rather interesting aspect to include in the story line. Coupled with the details about quilting and sewing and I was utterly fascinated.

Liz Trenow is now going on my list of authors to watch. I need to go back and read her debut, The Last Telegram, and then will certainly be keeping an eye out for what comes next.



  1. Kristin, this does sound fascinating. Thanks for a great review of this book.

  2. Sounds good! Thanks for the review

  3. Between you and Diana I have this one on my library list :)

  4. I enjoyed reading your review. I just read another positive review and added this to my To Read list.


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