The Ashwood women don’t have much in common…except their ability to keep secrets.
When Lark Ashwood’s beloved grandmother dies, she and her sisters discover an unfinished quilt. Finishing it could be the reason Lark’s been looking for to stop running from the past, but is she ever going to be brave enough to share her biggest secret with the people she ought to be closest to?
Hannah can’t believe she’s back in Bear Creek, the tiny town she sacrificed everything to escape from. The plan? Help her sisters renovate her grandmother’s house and leave as fast as humanly possible. Until she comes face-to-face with a man from her past. But getting close to him again might mean confessing what really drove her away…
Stay-at-home mom Avery has built a perfect life, but at a cost. She’ll need all her family around her, and all her strength, to decide if the price of perfection is one she can afford to keep paying.
This summer, the Ashwood women must lean on each other like never before, if they are to stitch their family back together, one truth at a time…
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Here’s a sneak peek at what’s inside:
March 4th, 1944
The dress is perfect. Candlelight satin and antique lace. I can’t wait for you to see it. I can’t wait to walk down the aisle toward you. If only we could set a date. If only we had some idea of when the war will be over.
The word whispered through the room like a ghost. Over the faded, floral wallpaper, down to the scarred wooden floor. And to the precariously stacked boxes and bins of fabrics, yarn skeins, canvases and other artistic miscellany.
Lark Ashwood had to wonder if her grandmother had left them this way on purpose. Unfinished business here on earth, in the form of quilts, sweaters and paintings, to keep her spirit hanging around after she was gone.
It would be like her. Adeline Dowell did everything with just a little extra.
From her glossy red hair—which stayed that color till the day she died—to her matching cherry glasses and lipstick. She always had an armful of bangles, a beer in her hand and an ashtray full of cigarettes. She never smelled like smoke. She smelled like spearmint gum, Aqua Net and Avon perfume.
She had taught Lark that it was okay to be a little bit of extra.
A smile curved Lark’s lips as she looked around the attic space again. “Oh, Gram…this is really a mess.”
She had the sense that was intentional too. In death, as in life, her grandmother wouldn’t simply fade away.
Neat attics, well-ordered affairs and pre-death estate sales designed to decrease the clutter a family would have to go through later were for other women. Quieter women who didn’t want to be a bother.
Adeline Dowell lived to be a bother. To expand to fill a space, not shrinking down to accommodate anyone.
Lark might not consistently achieve the level of excess Gram had, but she considered it a goal.
“Lark? Are you up there?”
She heard her mom’s voice carrying up the staircase. “Yes!” She shouted back down. “I’m…trying to make sense of this.”
She heard footsteps behind her and saw her mom standing there, gray hair neat, arms folded in. “You don’t have to. We can get someone to come in and sort it out.”
“And what? Take it all to a thrift store?” Lark asked.
Her mom’s expression shifted slightly, just enough to convey about six emotions with no wasted effort. Emotional economy was Mary Ashwood’s forte. As contained and practical as Addie had been excessive. “Honey, I think most of this would be bound for the dump.”
“Mom, this is great stuff.”
“I don’t have room in my house for sentiment.”
“It’s not about sentiment. It’s usable stuff.”
“I’m not artsy, you know that. I don’t really…get all this.” The unspoken words in the air settled over Lark like a cloud.
Mary wasn’t artsy because her mother hadn’t been around to teach her to sew. To knit. To paint. To quilt.
Addie had taught her granddaughters. Not her own daughter.
She’d breezed on back into town in a candy apple Corvette when Lark’s oldest sister, Avery, was born, after spending Mary’s entire childhood off on some adventure or another, while Lark’s grandfather had done the raising of the kids.
Grandkids had settled her. And Mary had never withheld her children from Adeline. Whatever Mary thought about her mom was difficult to say. But then, Lark could never really read her mom’s emotions. When she’d been a kid, she hadn’t noticed that. Lark had gone around feeling whatever she did and assuming everyone was tracking right along with her because she’d been an innately self focused kid. Or maybe that was just kids.
Either way, back then badgering her mom into tea parties and talking her ear off without noticing Mary didn’t do much of her own talking had been easy.
It was only when she’d had big things to share with her mom that she’d realized…she couldn’t.
“It’s easy, Mom,” Lark said. “I’ll teach you. No one is asking you to make a living with art, art can be about enjoying the process.”
“I don’t enjoy doing things I’m bad at.”
“Well I don’t want Gram’s stuff going to a thrift store, okay?”
Another shift in Mary’s expression. A single crease on one side of her mouth conveying irritation, reluctance and exhaustion. But when she spoke she was measured. “If that’s what you want. This is as much yours as mine.”
It was a four-way split. The Dowell House and all its contents, and The Miner’s House, formerly her grandmother’s candy shop, to Mary Ashwood, and her three daughters. They’d discovered that at the will reading two months earlier.
It hadn’t caused any issues in the family. They just weren’t like that.
Lark’s uncle Bill had just shaken his head. “She feels guilty.”
And that had been the end of any discussion, before any had really started. They were all like their father that way. Quiet. Reserved. Opinionated and expert at conveying it without saying much.
Big loud shouting matches didn’t have a place in the Dowell family.
But Addie had been there for her boys. They were quite a bit older than Lark’s mother. She’d left when the oldest had been eighteen. The youngest boy sixteen.
Mary had been four.
Lark knew her mom felt more at home in the middle of a group of men than she did with women. She’d been raised in a house of men. With burned dinners and repressed emotions.
Lark had always felt like her mother had never really known what to make of the overwhelmingly female household she’d ended up with.
“It’s what I want. When is Hannah getting in tonight?”
NICUnurse’s Review of Confessions from the Quilting Circle by Maisey Yates
Maisey Yates is a new-to-me author. I’m always on the hunt for my next favorite author, so when a book’s cover and blurb are intriguing enough to pull me in, I’m always willing to give a new author a chance. I have my own confession to make, though: The first quarter of the book had me doubting whether I was going to be able to finish the book. I understand that there was a lot of history to unpack in this story, but it seemed almost too dry up until that point. However, beyond that, the story’s tempo seemed to pick up, as did the mystery surrounding who these women were to these sisters and mother and why their histories were essential to the stories. Told from four different perspectives and letters from the past, it felt a bit disconnected at times.
Despite the slow tempo of the book’s first quarter or so, the intrigue had built enough to keep me invested in the story. And once we got to the true confessions part of the story, the words that fell from these women’s lips were so very heartbreaking. However, watching these sisters and their mom pull together to make their relationships stronger moving forward and healing past hurts the best they could went a long way toward repairing my broken heart. All in all, this book was a very entertaining read that evoked a lot of emotion yet left me feeling uplifted and satisfied at the end. And I will definitely be picking up more books by this author in the future.
Beyond a good women’s fiction/chick-lit book, Confessions from the Quilting Circle is about the strength to get up when your world falls apart, pick up the pieces, and turn them into a beautiful work of art that would never have been possible without the triumph over the tragedy.
NICUnurse’s Rating: I give Confessions from the Quilting Circle by Maisey Yates 4 out of 5 propellers!
Connect with Maisey Yates
MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels (including Hello, Summer; Sunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The Weekenders; Beach Town; Save the Date; Ladies’ Night; Christmas Bliss; Spring Fever; Summer Rental; The Fixer Upper; Deep Dish; Blue Christmas; Savannah Breeze; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.
A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she earned a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia. After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.
Her first novel, Every Crooked Nanny, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of Savannah Blues. In 2006, Hissy Fit became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by twelve more New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.
She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.
-Courtesy of her website