Title: The Wishing Thread
Author: Lisa Van Allen
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Magical Realism\Women’s Fiction
ISBN: Ballantine Books\Random House
Publication Date: September 3rd 2013
Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book
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For fans of Jennifer Chiaverini and Sarah Addison Allen, The Wishing Thread is an enchanting novel about the bonds between sisters, the indelible pull of the past, and the transformational power of love.
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?
From the moment I read the synopsis for The Wishing Thread, I thought of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic (One of my all time favorite reads and Book to Movie adaptations) and Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells (Another of my all time favorite reads) and I knew that I had to read this one. I can’t say that it quite lived up to my expectations, but it came darn close! And they were very high expectations.
The setting of Tarrytown, NY (right next door to Sleepy Hollow) was drawn so absolutely perfectly that this was one of those books that the reader will wish they could simply step inside and live in for a time. I loved The Stitchery and the neighborhood…with a few repairs I certainly could have made that house my own! Lisa Van Allen’s writing style is descriptive and evocative without being long winded and adds perfectly to the feel of this novel. The pacing may feel a bit slow for some, but I love to savor books such as these and find that the slower pace lets me fully appreciate the beauty and wisdom found withing the pages.
Each of the three sisters drew me in immediately and I was able to connect with each of them in a different way. Bitty, the eldest, struggling to hold up appearances and keep herself distant from her past. Meggie, who has been searching for so long that she’s lost track of exactly what she really needs to find. And Aubrey, our heroine, part time librarian and the caretaker of The Stitchery and through extension the community…who finds her own inner strength and learns to redefine the rules and therefore her life. Even the recently passed Aunt Mariah has such a presence! Each of the other secondary characters are also so well fleshed out…that The Wishing Thread just rings so true. Which is key in any great work of Magical Realism.
Lisa Van Allen also manages to deliver a sweet and believable romance – one has to love Vic – as well as several great friendships. Let’s just say that she writes relationships well.
So lets talk about the magic…about the possibility of knitting one’s wishes with intent and positive thoughts into a garment and passing it along. What a gift. And is it really all that hard to believe? We’ve all seen the studies done on the power of optimism and positive thought.
Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world. ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson
And ultimately how important are those threads in pulling back together a fractured family and a splintered community? How beautiful and strong would that knit be if created with all the heart and soul of a trio of sisters and a town united? I left this book feeling lighter and happier, confident that yes…I can choose to make and remake my path as needed. That family and friends and hope and faith may not stop time but can move mountains nonetheless. The Wishing Thread is indeed a magical novel even for those like me who don’t knit.
Additional Note: I actually went and took a knitting class after reading this book…I don’t know how much time I’ll have to practice or if I’ll keep it up…but I loved the power and the beauty of creating something with my own two hands. And why not…I can reknit myself every day should I so choose:)