Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Wishing Thread - Review

Title: The Wishing Thread
Author: Lisa Van Allen
Source: Librarything Early Reviewers

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

My thoughts:

Have you ever read a book you just wanted to crawl into the pages and the story, and live there? That is how I felt about The Wishing Thread. If I could magically transport my life into this book, I would.

It's a family tradition for my brother and I to love the story of the Headless Horseman and Sleepy Hollow. We know the Disney cartoon by heart, the songs, the dialogue, even the lines from the cartoon shorts that come before it on the DVD. I loved the Johnny Depp movie version, and I am excited for the upcoming television show, although it involves time travel and that usually turns me off.  I sadly have never read the Washington Irving story, but I plan on correcting that in October.

I looked at the blurb for the book, and was a little apprehensive. I have had bad experiences with books that take place or are based on an original story, like this one. Or Scarlett, that sad sequel to Gone with the Wind.  So I started reading a little reservedly. It didn't take long for the story and the characters to steal me away into their lives.

Aubrey and her two sisters grew up with their aunt in a house that had been in the family for generations. Their house is known as The Stichery around town, and always had been. The Van Rippen family's heritage is long and winding and magical. They can knit spells, fulfilling the wishes of those who come to them, desperate, hopeful, resigned. The wisher must give up something of great importance to them in order for the deal to be made, and for the spell to work. But this is not a guarantee that the magic will work, just a sign of good faith between the two.

The idea of being able to embed emotions such as dreams and wishes, and curses like anger and despair into creative works is also called sympathetic magic. I have read this as a device in another book, where it was said that women who made quilts while waiting for their loved ones to come back from war sewed those emotions right into the quilts. I find this idea fascinating - I am pretty fanciful, and halfway believe that the transference really could happen.

The sisters grow up, and one by one leave The Stitchery - except Aubrey. She is different. She is the chosen one to stay on and grant the wishes, the sign of the choosing being her bright electric blue eyes. This part confused me, I wasn't sure if it was her whole entire eye that was blue, including the whites, or just the iris. Their beloved aunt dies, and her sisters come home for a visit. At this point, their lives start unraveling, and outside forces are working against them and The Stitchery. It is up to them to come together to change their own fates.

When I finished reading the story, I read the author interview and book club questions in the back. One of the book club questions was what would you would wish for, and what would you give up in the hopes of your wish coming true? You don't have to say, because I am sure your wishes are personal, but I think it is a thought provoking question.

This book is wonderful - magical, hopeful, yet with the real struggles that people actually go through in life, with a touch of Headless Horseman. The book was set during the fall, and it made me wish for autumn, with its crisp breezes, crunchy leaves, and sweaters and jeans, and is my favorite time of the year. And I don't knit, but I think I am going to give it a try this winter!


  1. Sounds good. I'm going to try to get a copy of this. :)

  2. This sounds like an amazing book. I have read a books that I just want to crawl into, although they are far and few between. I will add this to my TBR. Thank you for your review.
    -Dilettantish Reader


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