Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Few Thoughts On The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen


For fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Sarah Addison Allen, The Wishing Thread is an enchanting novel about the bonds between sisters, the indelible pull of the past, and the transformational power of love.

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

Ballantine Books | August 27, 2013 | 400 pages

My Thoughts

  • The Wishing Thread, Lisa Van Allen's debut novel, tells the story of the three Van Ripper sisters - Aubrey, Bitty and Meggie.  After the passing of the aunt who raised them, the three sisters must come together to decide upon the fate of the Stitchery, the magical home they were raised in.   But outside interests are also keen to determine the future of the Stitchery, as well as that of the neighbourhood in which it is situated, Tappan Square. 
  • Although sisters, Van Allen shapes Aubrey, Bitty and Meggie into unique individuals who, on the surface at least, have little in common.  For Aubrey, the tradition and duty associated with being the caretaker of the Stitchery are important above all else.  For Bitty, who left home as soon as she was able, the magic of the Stitchery is something to be denied.  Meggie, meanwhile, drifts from place to place with little thought for those she leaves behind. 
  • The primary settings of this novel, the Stitchery and Tappan Square, are important parts of the narrative.  Through her descriptive proses, Van Allen successfully brings the Stitchery and Tappan Square to life.   Indeed, the Stitchery is a good example of place as character, and it is every bit as fundamental to the narrative as Aubrey, Bitty and Meggie are. 
  • Given the magic of the Stitchery and the women who reside there rests in knitting, it is not surprising that the craft of knitting is integral to the story.   Even though I'm not a knitter, Van Allen was still able to successfully draw me into this element of the book.  I think knitters would likely appreciate this aspect even more than I was able to.
  • The only issue I had with this novel was the romantic subplot.  While it was sweetly done, and I was a fan of the two characters involved as individuals, I wasn't a fan of them as a couple.   I'd be curious to know if other readers felt the same way.  
  • As The Wishing Thread is a work of magical realism, the book is being marketed to fans of Sarah Addison Allen.  I think associating The Wishing Thread with the works of Addison Allen is a good strategy.  In addition to the magical realism element, there are many aspects of The Wishing Thread that are reminiscent of Addison Allen's books. 
  • The Wishing Thread was an enjoyable read.   I'm looking forward to hearing more from Lisa Van Allen. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

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