Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WWRW: A House of Tailors

Patricia Reilly Giff, where have you been all my life?



Frustrated with two lengthy and verbose books that I have been wrestling with, I pulled Giff's slim historical novel from my red library bag, and was I ever delighted!

A House of Tailors tells a powerful story of immigration, love, fear, and doing what one dislikes for a greater cause in under 150 pages.

Thirteen-year-old Dina Kirk has a great talent for sewing.  Raised in her mother's tailor shop near the French border, Dina has been sewing her entire life.  And she loathes it.

Dresses similar to what Dina would have sewn.

One morning in 1870, after taking a rowboat in the river to exchange hat patterns with her French friend, Elise, Dina is apprehended by Prussian soldiers, accused of being a French spy.  Her family uses her older sister's ticket money to send Dina to America, to live with Uncle Lucas and Aunt Barbara, where Dina dreams of never sewing again.

Popular ladies' hat styles of that time.

When Dina arrives in Brooklyn, disappointments come one after the other.  Her aunt and uncle do not live in that large home, but only on the top floor.  The bedroom they have prepared for her is only an emptied out closet with no window.  Brooklyn is too hot in the summer, too cold in the summer.

Dina and Uncle Lucas probably used a machine like this one.
But worst of all, Uncle Lucas expects Dina to help with SEWING!  This time, she does not even get the luxury of working on fine ladies' dresses or hats, but must sew coarse brown work pants day and night.

A smallpox epidemic, a tenement fire, a new friend, and other events lead to Dina's transformation from self-absorbed homesick girl to industrious selfless woman.



I know little about the Franco-Prussian War that Dina escapes, other than it was the war in which Germany annexed the Alsace and Lorraine regions where my ancestors come from.

Dina's story is loosely based on the story of Giff's own great-grandmother.  It's a wonderful story, one that anyone would enjoy, though probably best suited to girls age ten and up.

Now, I am on a mission to read everything Patricia Reilly Giff ever wrote.


12 comments:

  1. I read Lily's Crossing when l was younger and really enjoyed it. some of the best historical fiction is written for middle grade and young adult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you...and I just got Lily's Crossing from the lieberry.

      Delete
  2. Jessica, your blog design is gorgeous! I love the colors and the welcoming wink. I've been wanting to link up here for a long time now but kept putting off writing book reviews. Hope you don't mind I've doubled linked up with Five Faves. I got the brilliant idea from Amelia @ One Catholic Mama.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to have you! This is a No Rules Link Up. Heck, I've even reviewed books I didn't totally read! I have no problem sharing. Glad you came to the party!

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh! I just realized that I'm actually reading a book and so I can partake in this link-up! I'm so happy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm adding this book to my reading list, Jessica. It sounds like my cup of tea exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm putting this on the reading list!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't you just love finding new authors and then devouring all their books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally. So many books, so little time.

      Delete
  7. That looks great! Thanks for hosting the crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A little late but I've arrived to the party:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, busy mama, new baby, glad you could make it. I plan to do loads of reading when my new one comes. Nothing beats nursing while reading.

      Delete

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WWRW: A House of Tailors

Patricia Reilly Giff, where have you been all my life?



Frustrated with two lengthy and verbose books that I have been wrestling with, I pulled Giff's slim historical novel from my red library bag, and was I ever delighted!

A House of Tailors tells a powerful story of immigration, love, fear, and doing what one dislikes for a greater cause in under 150 pages.

Thirteen-year-old Dina Kirk has a great talent for sewing.  Raised in her mother's tailor shop near the French border, Dina has been sewing her entire life.  And she loathes it.

Dresses similar to what Dina would have sewn.

One morning in 1870, after taking a rowboat in the river to exchange hat patterns with her French friend, Elise, Dina is apprehended by Prussian soldiers, accused of being a French spy.  Her family uses her older sister's ticket money to send Dina to America, to live with Uncle Lucas and Aunt Barbara, where Dina dreams of never sewing again.

Popular ladies' hat styles of that time.

When Dina arrives in Brooklyn, disappointments come one after the other.  Her aunt and uncle do not live in that large home, but only on the top floor.  The bedroom they have prepared for her is only an emptied out closet with no window.  Brooklyn is too hot in the summer, too cold in the summer.

Dina and Uncle Lucas probably used a machine like this one.
But worst of all, Uncle Lucas expects Dina to help with SEWING!  This time, she does not even get the luxury of working on fine ladies' dresses or hats, but must sew coarse brown work pants day and night.

A smallpox epidemic, a tenement fire, a new friend, and other events lead to Dina's transformation from self-absorbed homesick girl to industrious selfless woman.



I know little about the Franco-Prussian War that Dina escapes, other than it was the war in which Germany annexed the Alsace and Lorraine regions where my ancestors come from.

Dina's story is loosely based on the story of Giff's own great-grandmother.  It's a wonderful story, one that anyone would enjoy, though probably best suited to girls age ten and up.

Now, I am on a mission to read everything Patricia Reilly Giff ever wrote.


12 comments:

  1. I read Lily's Crossing when l was younger and really enjoyed it. some of the best historical fiction is written for middle grade and young adult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you...and I just got Lily's Crossing from the lieberry.

      Delete
  2. Jessica, your blog design is gorgeous! I love the colors and the welcoming wink. I've been wanting to link up here for a long time now but kept putting off writing book reviews. Hope you don't mind I've doubled linked up with Five Faves. I got the brilliant idea from Amelia @ One Catholic Mama.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to have you! This is a No Rules Link Up. Heck, I've even reviewed books I didn't totally read! I have no problem sharing. Glad you came to the party!

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh! I just realized that I'm actually reading a book and so I can partake in this link-up! I'm so happy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm adding this book to my reading list, Jessica. It sounds like my cup of tea exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm putting this on the reading list!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't you just love finding new authors and then devouring all their books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally. So many books, so little time.

      Delete
  7. That looks great! Thanks for hosting the crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A little late but I've arrived to the party:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, busy mama, new baby, glad you could make it. I plan to do loads of reading when my new one comes. Nothing beats nursing while reading.

      Delete