Read, Knit: The Tea Planter’s Wife

Back in the day, when I was younger and full of tragic heroine’s angst, I would have lapped this book up in a heart-beat, but now that I’m older, not so much.  This is not to say that this book is not a good read, it’s just no longer my cup of tea.

The story is set in colonial Ceylon and it’s protagonist is Gwen — a naive nineteen year old who has become married to a mysterious tea plantation owner after an extremely fast  courtship.  She then travels from London to Ceylon, excited about her new life and head over heels in love with her new husband.  She arrives to find that he’s not the same man she married, that excitement she had to run her own household is dampened by the mistrust and resentment of the plantation’s servants, that her sister in law seems hellbent on breaking up her marriage and of course, there is another woman in her husband’s life whose complicated presence Gwen doesn’t understand.  Enter stage left, a local man who has piqued Gwen’s own interest, then last but not least, the secrecy of what happened to her husband’s first wife.

The book in some ways reminded me of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.  The air of secrecy, this “thing” that everyone knows except the protagonist, story set against a colonial backdrop.  Then all of a sudden, it’s discovered that even the protagonist has her own secrets which added a smidgen more drama to the plot.  I really liked the author’s prose and descriptions of the culture and country were beautifully done.  But that’s where it ended for me.  I just never became invested in the characters.  The protagonist made choices that I didn’t understand or could relate to.  I also thought the plot was predictable.  The book had a slow start, gained momentum in the middle but the end was as I expected.   For the fans of this genre, this book would be an absolute love,  in my case, I like it, but I don’t love it.  It held my attention enough so I could practice reading and knitting together.  That’s a good thing right?

The Planter's Wife

Author’s Website: Dinah Jefferies

Knit Pattern: Boden from Nice & Knit

disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.

Book Review: Home Sewn

It’s been a while since I’ve been in this space.  So much to say not enough time so I’m just going to kick my return off with a book review.  I’ve been doing other crafting as well, but this book needs it’s online time.  It’s that good!

image credit

I received this book for review about 7 weeks ago.  What struck me immediately is how amazing the photography in this book is.   You know it has to be good when one of my colleagues remarked that even she as a non-crafter would keep this book as a coffee table book for the photography.  I’d say that’s high praise indeed.

However, as with every craft book I review, I had to look past the photos and see if Home Sewn met the standard criteria I now use for any pattern/craft book I might purchase:

  • How easy are the supplies to find?
  • How simple or complicated are the instructions?
  • Realistically, how many of these projects am I likely to make?

The author is a fan of leather … she admits that.  But even her love for leather and use in many of the projects doesn’t take away from the diversity of fabric and supplies used throughout the projects. What’s more, if leather is not your thing, it’s easy to substitute other fabrics and still end up with a gorgeous product.  For many of the projects I had most if not all of the supplies required.  She included a generous list of resources in the back of the book and what I think was really forward thinking on her part was that the list includes where to purchase supplies no matter where you are in the world.  A crafter using this book can purchase what he/she needs at any local fabric, quilt, or big box craft store.  And if you insist on going all out and using silk fabric, let’s say for the hand stitched quilt pattern, the author lists  online stores you can purchase any of the supplies from.

One of the things which turns newbies or sometimes even seasoned crafters off projects are complex instructions.  Not so with this book.  While some projects would take longer to make, that really would be attributed to the size and type of project, but not due to instructions that are hard to comprehend.   Even the way the instructions are laid out in the book make them easy to read and execute.  I consider myself a beginner sewer but was able to work through the instructions for all the projects after reading them twice.  Some projects only took one read to get the procedure down!  For projects requiring templates, the author provided the templates on her website so you don’t even have to create them yourself.

The biggest factor for me with books of these types is practicality.  How many of these projects would I likely make?  How would the projects translate to my living environment?  How many of these projects if made would I really use?  Of the 32 projects in this book, there’s only 1 I wouldn’t make and that’s because I don’t have the furniture that makes it necessary for me to make the type of chair cover shown as a project.  Other than that one, the projects are so easy to integrate in my urban apt and quite lovely to boot.  I’ve already made one, have ordered fabric for another and am about to fabric paint some canvas for a third.

This project book is a winner for me as I’m sure it will be for other sewers or sewing enthusiasts ready to take the plunge.  Well laid out, beginner friendly, aesthetically pleasing photography and projects I know I’ll enjoy making.  I’m already using my leather coasters!

Leather Coasters

disclaimer: this review was done through my affiliation with Blogging For Books.  Although I received a copy for review, the thoughts expressed are entirely my own.