Good morning my loves,
I hope you’ve had a brilliant day so far and are looking forward to the weekend ahead! Today’s post is my stop on the blog tour for the wonderful The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. Initially, what drew me to this book was the cover. My mother has had a Singer sewing machine for as long as I can remember and so that made me want to find out a little more about the book.
It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again. Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her. More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.
I think a lot of us can say that either we ourselves or someone that we know does or has owned one of these historical items. They are a British institution, so much so they actually make up the display windows of All Saints Clothing. The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie is a debut novel that doesn’t at all read like a debut. Wonderfully written and completely enthralling.
First we have the story of Jean, a young woman living with her oppressive father after her mother passes away. Jean works at the Singer Sewing Machine Factory. An almighty business at the time, in 1911, employing thousands upon thousands of worker, even necessitating its own railway station! Times are changing, there is a revolution. Following the appalling treatment of some of the workers led to a 10,000 person strong strike, a historical event known as the Battle of George Square. Forced to leave Clydebank for Edinburgh, Jean and her love Donald, must try to make a life elsewhere with next to nothing.
Fast forwards to Edinburgh in the 1950’s, where we meet Connie, a young typist living with her mother, Kathleen, a seamstress. Close to her father, a brilliant chess player, Connie’s life changes course when he passes away and then finds herself repairing uniforms for the staff at the hospital in which he passed away. This will be the event that will decide the course of Connie’s life forever. It is where she will met Ruth.
It’s 1980 in Edinburgh and Ruth is a bit of a mess, training to be a nurse but 3 months pregnant, she is hoping to be able to finish her course before her pregnancy becomes noticeable. Abandoned by her own family, Ruth finds a home in the place she least expects it.
Finally we meet Fred, whose Grandfather Alfred passes away and he inherits his home in Edinburgh (and his cat Crabbie). Recently unemployed and newly single, Fred finds a lot more than he bargained for while clearing out some of the things from his Grandfathers flat.
I do love a book that contains multiple timelines, especially ones that follow a particular object through its life, and this one does both of these things wonderfully. There has clearly been a lot of research and time spent on this book. The characters are well formed and I found almost every single of characters relatable. The history of the Singer Factory is not something I know and awful lot about but reading this made me dig a little deeper into the history and what I found was completely fascinating.
I think it’s fair to say that I loved this book and gave it 4.5 stars out of 5. I really do think that I’ll end up reading this book again and again. I really do recommend you pick up this book and read it as soon as possible. A completely heart-warming story that left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!
Peace and pages