From the publisher:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author brings us her most ambitious and provocative work yet—a searing and timely novel that explores the most volatile issue of our time—domestic violence.
At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.
She’s come home.
Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.
And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.
But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.
Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.
Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.
Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite writers. She excels at telling wonderful stories with characters you can’t help but care about, but there is usually something deeper as well. This is a book of the #MeToo movement, set in the fashion industry, which for some reason, has been exempt from this. At least I haven’t seen any earth shattering stories, but as in any industry where mostly men are in power, one can’t help but wonder…
The story moves back and forth between present day and Caroline’s childhood and coming of age. We meet Caroline and Will as young teens, then Sierra a couple of years later. Theirs is a complicated relationship, as are most friendships of three people, especially when one of them is a good looking guy. Caroline and Will have an instant connection which never really fades away. But instead of pursuing that, he falls for the beautiful Sierra, while Caroline watches from the sidelines. When they all wind up in the small town of Oysterville, the friendship rekindles with some unexpected changes.
I think from the start we can’t help but hope Caroline and Will end up together, but he is married to Sierra and they seem happy – at least at first. But as life goes on, it brings change. When a couple doesn’t grow together, they tend to grow apart and that is never good for a marriage.
Caroline inherits these children from a friend who dies of an overdose. She knew the woman had been in some sort of abusive relationship, but never knew or even suspected drug use. Caroline is a woman who has struggled for years to break into the fashion industry, then has her dreams snatched away in a public spectacle. At a loss, she takes on these children and runs home to Oysterville. The guilt Caroline feels for not pushing their mother, not helping her more, leads her to start a support group for abused women. Somehow she is shocked to find out how many women, even in such a small town, are affected.
This was a very good read, filled with the empathy and power that words can bring to such a dark subject. Book groups will find lots to discuss here.
8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-0062425584. 384p.