Title and Author: Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery
No. of Pages: 276
Publication Date: December 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction, Anthology, Short Stories, Romance, Mystery, Action
The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other
Small Threads” combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and
range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an
Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to
freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold
case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian
passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse
dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a
young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a
1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial
‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair
between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew,
just to name a few.
An Excerpt from Sewing Can Be Dangerous & Other Small Threads
“….Are you kidding me?” Deborah exploded. “My life is falling apart! C’mon,
curses don’t really happen, do they? I mean, what can I do? You tell me now!”
She segued into a screech.
over to my place tomorrow and I’ll try to relate it all to you, I promise…”
….“Do you know anything about the Salem
Witchcraft trials?” The older woman leaned in toward her niece, as if casting a
“No, not much, why?”
“You remember Martha Stinson from my quilt group? Well
after the wedding, she showed me a journal written by a relative of hers and frankly, I am very concerned about you. It seems
one of the accused witches from the original Salem trials might have actually
had a connection with a real witch, an ancestor of Martha’s…”
* * * *
Inside the packed meetinghouse, dust
particles from mud-caked boots floated throughout the air, rendering it dense,
murky. That year, April had been an unkind month to Salem Village. Rain-drenched meadows produced a sludge that clung to the edges of women’s dresses,
creating odors so foul that in such tight quarters, it became difficult to breathe.
But people weren’t concerned with such matters on this day. They had gathered
for a higher purpose: the Devil was in Salem, and they wished him
thwarted at all costs. Even the constant threat of
Indian attacks and surviving harsh winters paled in comparison to what was
happening now, in that room, swelling with apprehension.
Crammed into high-walled pews, dark wooden
benches, or simply shoved up against walls, spectators filled every conceivable
space in the meetinghouse. Donning black hats, cloaks, and
breeches, the men angled forward, their eyes boring holes into the five
men sitting up front, yet it was the women who carried the greatest burden that
day; their hooded coats and muffs covering their recently unkempt hair and
unwashed fingernails, couldn’t disguise the uncertainty they felt about their
community’s loyalty to them and how it would all end.
Sitting at the head of the counsel table, amongst other magistrates in the newly appointed
Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin quietly conferred
with each other before beginning their first round of questioning. Arrogant,
self-important, the black-robed magistrates assumed their positions on
the political totem pole, and having been brought to Salem for such a specific
purpose, they dared not disappoint. They were on a mission to deliver souls.
Hathorne, displaying the greatest exhibition of self-aggrandizement, seemed the
most severe. With no real legal experience, and having only glanced at Sir
Mathew Hale’s Trial of Witches, and Joseph Granvill’s Collection of Sundry Trials in England, Ireland the week before, he
nonetheless believed he was more than competent to interrogate the accused.
At the front of the room facing the
magistrates, sat all the accusers, the “afflicted” girls: Abigail Williams, her
cousin Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Sarah Bibber, Sarah Churchill, Elizabeth
Booth, Mercy Lewis, Susanna Sheldon, Jemima Rea, Mary Warren, Mary Walcott and
Elizabeth Hubbard. With downcast eyes and folded hands, they appeared
demure; inwardly they were experiencing emotions quite different from anything
they had ever known. Childhoods stocked with adult repression and fear now
served as a springboard to the frenzy of accusations they had created, because
on this day, along with their catharsis and even exhilaration, came the most
important emotion of all: a sense of empowerment. At last, they were getting
adults to listen to them, and it was intoxicating.
John Hathorne commenced with the proceedings. “Bring
in the accused, Bridget Bishop….”
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~Meet the Author~
S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.?Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.
Pinterest: (I have some good history boards that are
getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)
I have always believed that it takes more efforts too write short stories as you have limited number of words to tell your complete story. In very few words you have to express all the thoughts and ideas you have in your mind. When I first saw this book, I would admit I was little confused about the title. I was wondering what all this book is going to be about. Then I read the first story and thought may be its about women who sew and make beautiful things with their talented hands. But as I continued to read the stories, these stories tell us more than just sewing beautiful quilts. These stories are also about the slavery, rights of the blacks in America, horrible conditions of industries where workers are treated as animals and a lot more. These stories will take you back in the world where all the humans were not treated equal. You will feel their pain and you would be elated when they finally get free of all the torture and exploitation that they had to bear daily in their lives. But if you thought sewing is all about making quilts, then you are mistaken, sewing is also about giving new and beautiful lives to the children who are suffering from birth anomalies like cleft palate, sewing is also about giving comfort and peace to the NYPD police officer who can’t stop having panic attacks, sewing is also about never giving up on your love and keep fighting for it against all odds, sewing is all about courage and standing up for your rights.
This book has given a lot different meaning to sewing and I totally loved it for that. I would read one story and take a break and only then would read another one. Each story is quite immense and complete in itself and would tell you something different.
The author’s style of writing is definitely commendable and the characterisation of all the characters has been done perfectly. For me this book is a perfect piece of writing and I can’t find any flaw in the book. This book definitely deserves 5 out of 5 stars. If I am allowed, I would like to give it 7 out of 5 stars. Yes, this book is definitely so good and I would recommend everyone to read the book.