Reviewer: Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 14th October 2021
ISBN: 978-1529016000 PB
The year is 1939 and Britain is at war. The Patchwork Girls begins with Helen visiting the London apartment she shared with her MP husband, John, after his untimely death. Unable to stay there, she goes to stay with her mother and stepfather in Kent where she makes some wonderful new friends. The title hints at the nature of the friendship: Helen becomes involved with a group of people undertaking various crafts, the most interesting for her being patchwork, and quilt designs in particular.
This is such an engaging read, a multi-layered one which I enjoyed so much. Helen goes from her fairly sophisticated London home to a more rural one, and I thought the settings were really vivid and well-drawn. I especially liked the dog kennels that come to play a huge part in Helen’s new life and I felt genuinely happy for her to have that involvement. Being an old romantic, one of my favourite aspects of the story was Helen meeting Richard, the chief officer investigating John’s death. I don’t want to give anything away but I just thought that strand of the story was really lovely. Another uplifting aspect was Helen’s new friendships, with Effie and Lizzie in particular, both so different yet both exactly the kind of people Helen needed in her new life, giving her a sense of comradeship.
As I say, there are several threads (excuse the pun) in this story with the crafts, the dogs, the romance, the friendships, family ties, and then the sub-plot of John’s death and what caused it. They’re all brought together expertly by the author to make The Patchwork Girls a gorgeous story that completely warmed my heart. I spent a very happy couple of days reading this delightful book. I feel like I’ve learned more about patchwork quilt designs too which is a nice bonus. I loved this touching and engrossing standalone read from Elaine Everest.