Romance novelist Jude Deveraux re-imagines Romeo and Juliet, Plus quilters and St. Aubyn

Blessed are the piecemakers. Don’t needle the seamstress. Old quilters never die, they just go to pieces!

Oh-ho those quilters. They’re a wacky lot. And you can meet them in person next weekend at the Lennoxville Quilters’ annual show and sale.

But first, a primer, because it’s always good to have a bit of know-how before you wander in. Knowledge allows for even more thoughtful exclaiming over the incredible amounts of time and skill that go into making a quilt.

Liz Porter and Marianne Fons started quilting in the 1970s, and published a book about it in 1995. That gives them enough experience to be good, but they’ve a short enough quilting life to still recall how complicated it all seemed at the beginning.

Nonetheless, they both got hooked.

American Country Scrap Quilts is a book of patterns and tips, for beginners right up to the experts. But even those who never intend to pick up a bolt of fabric and cut it into squares will enjoy flipping through this tome. The full-page colour photographs of quilts are a delight, and those so inclined can learn the names of the older, traditional patterns. The Six-Pointed String Star. Centennial Baskets. Aunt Sukey’s Choice.

And after that, you can appreciate those new-fangled, modern works of quilting art.

There are diagrams for full-sized bed quilts, lap quilts to keep you warm while watching the telly, and baby-sized gifts for newborns. The “Quiltmaking Essentials” chapter itemizes supplies, fabric dos and don’ts, sewing help, basting methods, lots more. Meander through the whole book before choosing a project.

Thinking a quilt might be a fun project? Start saving those scraps now. Old clothes, tablecloths, just set everything aside in a bag in the back of a closet, and keep adding to it until you’ve decided today’s the day to take the plunge. Even just one small square that doesn’t match anything else can be used in a larger quilt (such outliers are called “mavericks”).

A few pointers: when you buy, fabrics can be narrower than the listed width, and you’re unlikely to never, ever make a cutting mistake. So always pick up an extra half yard of every fabric. Just in case.

Perhaps you like the idea of a quilt, but the final product isn’t of interest? But something else might look great in the living room? Check out Beautiful Cross Stitch From Classic Quilt Designs, by Brenda Day (1996). Again, these decorative needleworks are based on the classic quilt patterns of old, like a single musical phrase endlessly reimagined.

Day’s ideas range from cushions to borders on linen, schoolhouse samplers and footstool covers, even a mirror frame! She plays with Flying Geese, Log Cabin and Anish Nine-Patch patterns, among others. This is another delightful option for those who want to do, or just browse.

The Lennoxville Quilters show is Friday, Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 84 Queen St. Admission $5.

What is it about sequels that so enchant? They rarely match the timbre of the original, they’re often written because of popular demand or – worse – because the marketing department sees a good opportunity for inexpensive advertising, as the hard work was already done with the first book.

Still, once you’ve spent an enchanting few hours with characters, gotten to know them, it’s nice to slip back into a familiar world and reconnect with old friends.

Two books in the New Arrivals section fit the bill.

Jude Deveraux romance novels are a guilty pleasure, and The Conquest (1991) is a Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale of forbidden love in a medieval world of irrational, obsessive hatred. It’s a sequel, of sorts, to The Taming. Our main character is Zared Peregrine, a 17-year-old in the year 1447, who’s been taught, as all young men are, to fight with a sword and ride like the wind. He’s one of the few Peregrines left alive, as their sworn enemies the Howards have been killing them off for three generations.

The Peregrines are just as bloodthirsty in return.

Enter Tearle, who grew up in France, the only Howard to have been sheltered from a life of endless, miserable revenge. He returns to discover that his family is bananas: “You post men outside the Peregrine castle?” Tearle asks of a brother. “You watch them on a daily basis? Do you count the cabbages they buy?”

Meanwhile, teenaged Zared refuses to be cooped up inside the castle, and rides off alone one day… and is promptly kidnapped by the Howard’s men. Only Tearle is at home as the guards proudly bring in their captive… and Tearle takes one look at Zared and realizes the truth. Zared is a she, brought up in men’s clothes in an effort to protect her.

She’s also beautiful.

Complexities ensue.

Here’s another sequel: Edward St. Aubin’s At Last (2011) is the fifth Melrose family novel, this one focussing on Patrick and the funeral of his mother, Eleanor. A previous installment, Mother’s Milk, was a Man Booker Prize finalist, and St. Aubin is known as a bleak satirist.

Patrick has led a difficult life – a privileged son raped as a child, later a self-destructive addict struggling with his demons. At Last forces Patrick to consider his mother’s impact on his life, and we wonder whether he can forgive her.

– Eleanor Brown, Aug. 30, 2013


About BiblioLennLibrary

The Lennoxville Library, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have a great selection of books in French and English, plus books on tape and CD, too! Check out our large-print section, our graphic novels... La Biblio Lennoxville se situe dans les Cantons-de-l'Est du Quebec. Les residents de Sherbrooke peuvent devenir membre gratuitement. Nous avons une grande selection de livres en francais et en anglais. Venez donc nous voir! Hours/Heures d'ouverture: Mardi-Tuesday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Mercredi et Jeudi -Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 6pm -- 10h a 18h Vendredi-Friday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Samedi-Saturday, 11am to 4pm -- 11h a 16h Pour plus d'info, vous pouvez nous trouver au Click on the above to get to our website!
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