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June 24, 2024

The Threadbare Heart: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

The Threadbare Heart, by Jennie Nash.

One minute she was sipping hot chocolate like any holiday reveler, reading about fabric and design, knowing that her husband was happily wandering the bookstore aisle, and the next moment, she felt the full weight of the ordinary dangers of the world -- chocolate, a holiday in her mother's house, marriage itself. - from the ARC of The Threadbare Heart, page 10 -

Lily is living what most people would consider a perfect life -- she's been married to the same man for more than twenty-five years while other marriages around her have failed, and she and her husband Tom are enjoying their cozy home in Vermont. But, as with every person's life, not all is perfect. Tom seems distant with Lily and unhappy with his role as a professor, Lily longs to break into her many tubs of gorgeous fabric and do something creative in her life rather than being devoted to writing a math textbook website, Tom and Lily's grown boys are living 3000 miles away in California ... and there is something intangible which makes Lily nervous ... she is beginning to think her marriage is not as content as it should be, and she wonders if she really knows Tom at all. When the two of them make a trip to California for the Christmas holidays -- spending time with Lily's vibrant and somewhat impulsive mother -- an opportunity arises for them to purchase an avocado farm and start a new life on the West coast. It seems to be just the thing to reignite their marriage.

The move west goes without a hitch, but just changing locations doesn't necessarily make everything right ... and when an unexpected and horrific wildfire tears through the foothills of Santa Barbara wiping out everything cherished in Lily's life, Lily must somehow find a path which will heal her grief and re-connect her to what is important.

Lily and her mother Eleanor have a prickly relationship which is fraught with anger and jealousy. They are opposites in almost every way, including how they love and the paths in life they have chosen, but when tragedy forces them together, they find a common ground in an old piece of lace which belonged to Lily's grandmother Hattie and the only thing of value spared in the wildfire.

It was still neatly wound inside archival tissue, totally undisturbed. The cardboard tube had done its job -- as cocoon, as armor, as shield. She felt a wave of gratitude for the simple tube, and for her grandmother's impulse to preserve the piece of cloth, and for how well her husband had known and loved her. As the fire bore down and the danger closed in, he had thought to save the one object that meant the most to her -- that defined her. It was a piece of possibility. - from the ARC of The Threadbare Heart, page 233 -

Eleanor, who is terrified of opening herself up to feelings which might then hurt her, finds that she must risk in order to find happiness; and Lily, who has always clung to the anger against her mother must learn to forgive in order to move forward.

Written in the multiple points of view of all the major characters, The Threadbare Heart is a poignant and wise look at how we choose to love one another. It is also a treatise on appreciating what is most important and irreplaceable in our lives. By slowly revealing the characters in her novel and their experiences and struggles with love and marriage, Nash uncovers the challenges we all face.

Throughout the novel, Nash also explores the theme of memory and how it is attached to the things we accumulate. When Lily begins writing lengthy lists of all she lost in the fire, she is attempting to cling to the memories of her life with Tom. Lily remembers a Matisse tablecloth which she and Tom bought together on a trip to France, she recognizes it is not the tablecloth which brings her such joy, but the memories it holds.

Their friends would comment on the tablecloth, and Lily and Tom would talk about finding it in Lyon, which was really a story about how they found each other, how they committed to each other, and how they shared a love that sustained them. - from the ARC of The Threadbare Heart, page 56 -

Jennie Nash has written a novel that is tender and heartbreaking, a story which examines how we survive when all seems lost, and how friendship and family connection can be the raft we cling to until we have the strength to move forward again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and all the significant relationships in between. Nash captures both the New England and California coastal countrysides well. She managed to make my palms sweat a bit with her realistic and frightening look at a California wildfire, too! For readers who enjoy well-written and honest women's fiction, The Threadbare Heart is a book I can recommend.

Four stars out of five.

Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".


Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-05-10
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