Did you watch the Great British Sewing Bee on Tuesday evening? I attempted to watch it, but I was interrupted so many times by my children that I gave up. I will watch it again when they are both out! I’ve always loved sewing so have been looking forward to reading Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle by Clare Hunter( I got my copy via NetGalley).
Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle
For the mothers of the disappeared in 1970s Argentina, protest was difficult. Every Thursday they marched in front of government buildings wearing headscarves embroidered with the names of their lost children. Through sewing, they found a way to campaign. In Tudor England Mary, Queen of Scots was under house arrest and her letters were censored, so she sewed secret treason into her needlework to communicate with the world outside.
From the political propaganda of the Bayeux Tapestry and First World War soldiers with PTSD, to the maps sewn by schoolgirls in the New World, Threads of Life stretches from medieval France to contemporary Mexico, from a POW camp in Singapore to a family attic in Scotland. It is a chronicle of identity, protest, memory, power and politics told through the stories of the men and women, over centuries and across continents, who have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard, even in the most desperate of circumstances.
In an eloquent blend of history and memoir, Threads of Life is an evocative and moving book about the need we all have to tell our story.
So, what did I think of Threads of Life? I have to be honest and say I didn’t particularly enjoy the writing style of the author. I can’t put my finger on it but I found parts quite dull. Maybe I just didn’t discover much that was new to me? I was lucky to look after the Changi Quilt, one of the textiles mentioned in the book, and perhaps I just had an in depth knowledge of many of the great textile pieces mentioned. The book is a blend of history and personal memoir, and I would recommend it if you like that kind of book.
Threads of Life was the Book of the Week on BBC Radio4 between the 5-9th February. It was obviously abridged into 5 x 15 minutes chunks and I loved this version of it! It was so much easier to listen to than the book was to read. It’s still available to listen to.
Disclosure – thank you to NetGalley for the copy of the book.