The Oysterville Sewing Circle
By Susan Wiggs
William Morrow; hardcover; $26.99; available today, August 13
Susan Wiggs is the author of more than fifty novels, including the beloved Lakeshore Chronicles series and the instant New York Times bestseller Family Tree. Her award-winning books have been translated into two dozen languages. She lives with her husband on an island in Washington State’s Puget Sound.
Wiggs’ new book, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, focuses on Caroline Shelby, who rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific, at the break of dawn. She’s come home to a place she thought she’d left forever.
A decade before, 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.
In the backseat of her car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment. Caroline is now the legal guardian of five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. It is a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.
However, the Oysterville she left behind has changed. So, Caroline turns to the place she feels most at home – the sewing shop owned by a woman who inspired her and taught her to sew.
“Fabric shops all had a peculiar, distinctive scent, subtle and evocative, a waft of nostalgia,” Wiggs writes. “When Caroline stepped through the door of Lindy’s Fabric and Notions and took a breath, she recognized the aroma of dry good and dye, sweet machine oil and tailor’s chalk, and dried lavender and bergamot from the display of fine imported tea, one of Lindy’s sidelines.
“Familiarity washed over her as she took in her surroundings. Even the jangle of the little brass bell over the door awakened memories. The shop had been like a second home to Caroline while she was growing up. She’d spent countless hours here, learning the basics of sewing and design that had become her life’s passion.
“This was her first venture away form the children since Angelique’s death, and she felt a tangible release of tension. Her mother had gathered Flick and Addie in like a hen clucking over a clutch of eggs, and she’d shooed Caroline off with a brisk flap of her apron. ‘Take a little time for yourself,’ she’d said. ‘I’m in charge now. Go have a look around town.’
“Caroline had seized on the opportunity. She needed it. Needed to be something other than a worrier. Needed to find her next logical step. So naturally the path led her to Lindy’s.
“‘Hello, can I help you?’ said the young woman behind the cutting table. She wore thick-framed glasses ad an apron in a conversational birdcage print that managed to look very cool, and a name tag that read ECHO.
“‘I hope so,’ Caroline said, scanning the neat rows of fabric bolts. The shop was deserted other than a marmalade cat napping in the window display. ‘I’m an old friend of Lindy’s. I used to work here. Is she around today?’
“‘There’s a familiar face,’ called a voice from the workroom in the back of the shop.
“Caroline felt herself light up with pleasure. ‘Lindy? Oh my gosh. It’s so great to see you.’
“The older woman – she was about Caroline’s mom’s age – opened her arms as she bustled into the shop. ‘Miss Caroline Shelby, as I live and breathe. I heard a rumor that you were in town,’ she said as they hugged. She stepped back, beaming. ‘My star pupil. How nice to see you again.’
“Lindy had owned the shop for as long as Caroline could remember. She was a talented seamstress and quilter who had generously given Caroline access to the machines in her workroom, as well as basic lessons in sewing and patternmaking.
“‘This is Echo Sanders,’ Lindy said. “Another rising star.’
“Echo’s cheeks reddened in a bashful blush. ‘We’ll see,’ she said.
“‘My goodness, we go way back, don’t we?’ Lindy said.
“Ever since she was old enough to thread a needle, Caroline had dreamed of designing and making clothes. Discovering, thanks to a trip to Portland with Lindy, that such a thing as design school existed. Lindy had given her a catalog from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Caroline was a goner. With relentless focus, she had conquered patternmaking, sample sewing, grading, and sizing.
“‘I’ll always be grateful for all the time I spent here. You were such a fabulous teacher. I used to want to wrap the world in your vintage cotton prints.’
“‘And it appears you’re doing just that,’ Lindy said, then turned to Echo. ‘She’s been working as a designer in New York.’
“Echo leaned her elbows on the cutting table. ‘That sounds like a dream come true.’
“‘It’s…’ Caroline glanced away. ‘It’s been quite a ride.'”
While at the store, Caroline discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets.
Inspired by this knowledge, and still grieving for the friend she lost, Caroline launches the Oysterville Sewing Circle, a weekly all-female group where women can talk about their lives without judgment and help each other through the troubles they keep hidden from the rest of the world. As word of the Sewing Circle spreads, Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, but an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart.
The Oysterville Sewing Circle is an emotionally charged story that tugs at the heartstrings in the best possible way, complete with an irresistible ensemble cast and deeply felt truths about coming home, women’s friendships, and finding your way in the world.