The Coming Home Quilt
My grandmother was a mistress of the art of quilting. I remember watching her when I was young as she would sit by the quilting frame and stitch the quilt top, the padding, and the backing together into one unit with tiny little stitches. The quilting frame was a large piece of equipment that she kept in a corner of her dining room; it was not portable.
Chandelle McBride in The Coming Home Quilt evidently does not not need a frame. She carries her quilt (the whole thing, not just pieced blocks) in a bag with her wherever she goes. I’d hate to see what it looks like when she finishes it – my grandmother was always very particular that her quilt be stretched taut so the stitches would be even. Even though at one point, Chandelle tells how she makes her quilts, it does not sound right to me.
The McBride women have a quilting tradition called The Coming Home Quilt. As soon as they get old enough to hold a needle, they begin a quilt and work on it their whole life long. When they die, they are buried in the quilt. “How macabre!” I thought. Grandma McBride’s home was taken over by a damnyankee captain during The War Of Northern Aggression and that terrible man took her quilt! Now poor Grandma is ailing but is hanging on in the hopes of getting the quilt back. Chandelle hires Matt Winchester – a private eye – to take her to Philadelphia where she has tracked down the Yankee captain who stole granny’s quilt.
On the train, Chandelle acts really TSTL (too-stupid-to-live) at one point. The train is boarded by robbers and she attacks one of the robbers who had the nerve to try and steal the bag she is carrying her quilt in. Chandelle spends the train ride alternately disliking Matt and then being violently attracted to him, for no reason I could figure out, since he was a very gray character – no color to him at all.
Once Chandelle and Matt arrive in Philadelphia things begin to pick up. The action and surprises come thick and fast – almost too fast. The first two thirds of the book were slow, almost leisurely paced, but the last third was like a speeding train.
The Coming Home Quilt was nothing special. Even though Matt and Chandelle were described, I never got a good picture of them in my mind. The book was studded with awkward phrases and sentences: Voices scrambled together like breakfast in a cast-iron pan erupted from the front of the car. and She gasped when she bumped into the gelatinous wall beneath his filthy shirt.
I don’t know about you all, but phrases like those leave me scratching my head and saying, “What the…?! “Where was the editor?”
My grandmother not only loved to quilt, she also loved to read. Somehow I can imagine that if she had read The Coming Home Quilt she would be disappointed in it as a book, and she would not have had a very high opinion of the quilt either.
|Review Date:||July 25, 1999|