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Cove Reviews of Last Pick

Gavel Banging

Here's what some members had to say about the last Pick!

Gavel Banging

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Review by Sally:

Red Beating Heart

Once I started the book I couldn’t put it down, I was gradually sucked into the world of Glenmara and when the book ended it was almost as if I had come out of a daze – as if I hadn’t realised that it had all been a dream.

The story opens in Ireland, where Kate has come to lick her wounds after the death of her mother and being dumped by her boyfriend. She chose Ireland as this is where she was planning on coming with her mother to explore the land of their ancestors.

Taking her time, Kate wanders around the country with no fixed destination in mind. She ends up in the remote seaside village of Glenmara on market day where she meets the women of a local lace-making society. Bernie is one of those women, and a widow. She recognizes a lost soul and offers Kate a bed for the night, which turns out to be longer, and Kate joins the lace-making circle to learn the craft.

The women of the circle are a diverse group. Bernie is lonely, missing her husband with a passion; Aileen has low self-esteem and a rebellious daughter; Moira is being abused by her husband but won’t complain about him, Oona is a breast cancer survivor who no longer feels lovely, and Colleen is a fisherman’s wife who cannot relax until her husband is safely home. Kate convinces the women to use their lace-making skills to embellish plain underwear to create exquisite lingerie. The lingerie ends up with beautiful lace flowers, fish, fairies, and even skulls and bones, worked into the pattern. As each lady completes her piece the reader is drawn into their life, magic is weaved, souls soothed, and the difficulties that each of them face are overcome. Although some of the difficulties are harder to solve than others, new love unfolds, relationships are mended, and friendships deepen.

You will need a hanky – but you will laugh as well. Support cast is very good with the misguided Catholic priest Father Dominic Byrne who thinks the lace-maker’s work is evil, the enigmatic traveler William, and the angst-ridden artist, Deane Sullivan all playing their parts in the plot well. The main and support characters are all people you want to meet, and some you wouldn’t. Overall, the book is easy to read, gentle in its delivery and covers some tough topics.

Review by Darlene:

Red Beating Heart

So what do you do when you've lost your beloved mother, your boyfriend has dumped you for someone else and your clothing line has completely failed - why you take a trip to Ireland of course. That's exactly what Kate in The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri does!

Kate was to have taken the trip to Ireland with her mother; it was something they had planned for but after Kate loses her mother she still feels she should take it and experience all that her mother had so looked forward to. As Kate is traveling through Ireland she ends up landing in the quaint little village of Glenmara and it's here that she meets some wonderful ladies and learns the fine art of lace making.

Kate wanders into the village on market day and meets Bernie and Aileen who are always there trying to sell their lace to tourists passing through. Kate, being a fashion designer and having always sewn things is intrigued by the beautiful lace. Very quickly Kate forms a friendship with Bernie, one of the lace makers and she invites her to stay with her. It is here that Kate is introduced to both lace making and the Lace Makers of Glenmara - a wonderful group of ladies with the exception of one (Aileen) who come together to make lace and chat.

These women have learned this fine art of lace making from their mothers and grandmothers before them. You can feel the generations gone by as they talk about the traditions of lace making. Kate, being very creative feels that the women can go further with their lace making. She thinks that with a few adjustments they can take their product out into the world and really bring it recognition and maybe begin to earn more money for themselves. So Kate suggests adding the lace to undergarments; the idea takes off and the women set about teaching Kate the art while renovating their undies.

For a relatively shorter book there are a lot of characters and at times it is a bit hard to keep track of them and I found myself flipping back and forth a bit. I really liked the characters though and if I had one big complaint it would be that I wished this book had been longer and the characters more fully developed. I would have loved to hear more about each of them. Bernie I think we get to know a bit more as she is more of a main character along with Kate. Bernie is a sweet older lady who I just loved - she's someone you can absolutely see yourself sitting down to tea and a chat with. Aileen was the one who was not so nice. She was very jealous of Kate and it took her quite a while to warm up to things. The other ladies Oona, Colleen and Moira I liked as well but again we're given a few pieces of their lives but really left wanting so much more.

All that aside, I really enjoyed this, The Lace Makers of Glenmara. Of course, for me, any book that involves Ireland, a craft and a group of women coming together in friendship is always a book that will capture my interest. I enjoyed hearing some of the history of Ireland along with some points about lace making and only wished there was more. This was an easy, comfortable story about a type of life that is all but gone by and that is exactly what I found charming about it. I just let myself fall into the story and enjoyed it!

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