Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Stitch and a Prayer - a Litfuse Review

  • Series: Quilts of Love
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426772521

A Stitch and a Prayer, written by Eva Gibson, is a historical Christian fiction novel that is based on a fictionalized account of her grandparents' lives during turn of the 20th century Northwest.

Book Description
A quilt becomes a labor of love for a lonely wife mysteriously separated from her young husband.

After her fiancĂ© returns from the Klondike gold rush in 1897, Florence Harms sets about building a new life in her new marriage—even though the lingering effects of illness have left her weak and vulnerable. She and her young husband, Will, work tirelessly to clear the land around their Northwest cabin, content with their modest life.

But then a stranger comes knocking and Florence suddenly senses a restlessness in Will’s spirit that she had never seen before. When he leaves her with only a note that tells her he will return before their baby’s birth, she is devastated, and the illness that stiffened her joints returns. Counting the days until Will walks back through her door, Florence busies herself with a Tree of Life quilt displaying a map of the farm they call home. Doubts claw at her heart as Florence struggles to believe Will’s promise to return to her. Will her labor of love-and faith in God—sustain her as she waits to see her beloved once again?

My Thoughts

Whenever the wind blew hard and the rain came down sideways, lashing the windowpane, Florence Harms heard her dancing song.

It has taken me a long time to finish reading this book. Every time I would pick it up, something would frustrate me about the storyline or the characters. When I opened the book and saw the above quote, I winced and said, "This does not bode well." I hate to see metaphors in a story opener. It is just hard to pull it off without seeming--for lack of a better word--cheesy. I was just hoping that maybe it was off to a rough start and things would get better.


I gave this book many a chance, gave myself a talking to a few times, and forged ahead. The things that bothered me the most were the whiny main character, the weepy husband (Do husbands really weep so much?), the characters for whom I couldn't figure out from where they came (felt like I should've read a book about them already--missing pieces), the neighbors that suddenly become great friends, the pearls that were such a big deal but so little time was spent talking about their relevance, and just a general choppiness of the story. I'll deal with explaining some of these below.

Florence's character really annoyed me. One day, she'd be happy and relying on God, and the next day she'd be so whiny and questioning everything. Sure, we humans are like this quite frequently, but Florence was unnaturally so.

Her husband Will seems to be very emotional. Actually, he and Florence seem like the same person at times, just given names of the opposite sex. At one point, he tells Florence he's probably going to have to leave for a time, but when he does he promises to say goodbye. And true to the story's path, he doesn't. He leaves a letter instead. Florence's response? Tears welling her eyes. Then later on in the day, Aunt Amelia comes over and Florence cries in her arms. It just seemed too tame, especially for Florence.

Toward the end of the story, some new neighbors were introduced into the book. Some kids got a little rowdy, shot above Florence's house and got Aunt Amelia mad enough to pitch overworked baking soda biscuits. The next day, the boys' dad brought them along and made them apologize. They became instant friends, and the motherless boys became instant friends with childless Aunt Amelia. I'm still trying to figure out the relevance of these people being brought into the story, especially so late. They just felt like story filler--like they were just crammed in there.

There was a set of pearls left to Florence from her mother. Early in the story as Florence was preparing for her wedding, the pearls went missing. Thinking that the pearls were going to become a big part of the story, I kept reading thinking there would be some plot about the pearls, maybe some explanation about why they were so special. Nope--just a little snippet saying that a month later they found them--the cat had them.The pearls were mentioned a little later in the story as well, but once again, so little was mentioned about them again.  I'd have loved to have seen something more about the pearls. 

The story was choppy. At the beginning of the story, Florence and her family were living in a tent, leading me to believe that they had just settled into the northwestern territory. Later on though, Gus the traveling salesman seemed well known (they wanted to invite him for Christmas dinner), the doctor was close enough to them that Florence felt comfortable hugging him, and they knew some other people fairly well. However, some folks who lived just a bit down the road were almost strangers to them. That said, township relationships were confusing. The story skipped in time a lot. Almost ever chapter covered a different month, and there were bits of the story that I really wanted to see more covered, but it felt like it was a rush to finish.

I think the story had potential, I really do, but it wasn't given the appropriate time to flesh out. What I did thoroughly appreciate is that there was a lot of scripture included in the book which Florence used to encourage herself throughout her difficulties. That was very admirable, and it's not something that I see regularly. It was the portion of the story that I most appreciated, and seeing God's word brought up several times made me smile.

About the Author
Eva Gibson is the author of twenty books, including The Gift of Forgiveness and The Three Marys. She currently teaches "writing your life story" classes for Portland Community College and is an active member of Oregon Christian Writers. She has lived most of her life on the family farm in Wilsonville, Oregon, which is the setting for A Stitch and a Prayer.

I've been given a copy of A Stitch and a Prayer by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.