Embroidered Life, by Sara Barnes, follows the craft of embroidery as practiced by Sarah K. Benning. And it is the ultimate craft inspo!
Craft of Sarah K. Benning
From beautiful botanicals to bold affirmations, the work of self-taught fiber artist Sarah K. Benning gives any embroidery enthusiast, art lover, or plant fanatic a new appreciation for the craft of needlework.
I absolutely loved the art that is this book in itself. It sheds light on Benning’s embroidery process and her successful business model, while also offering behind-the-scenes insights that really inspired me to pick up the needle and thread after almost a decade.
Aesthetics of this craft
There are also some amazing pictures of the various embroidery works done by Benning and they are so lush and beautiful! A lot of her works feature nature and plants and the colour green overall, and it was no wonder I was so very attracted to it. Following each picture, the author has also included notes to explain the meanings and processes behind the stitches.
How it inspired me
It also obviously pushed me to make my own embroidery piece and so I too ended up embroidering my personal logo. I had a great time making it and I realized that it is a kind of meditation. It just feels so good to sit down in the warm sunshine every morning and do the stitching. I really felt at peace doing it.
Craft for life!
Moreover, the book is so aesthetic, and the addition of the die-cut case with actual stitching on the front cover just amps up the aesthetics! Like the embroidery which is a very physical thing, the inclusion of this stitching on the front too is iconic for emulating that sense of touch.
A smashing book!
I think by now it’s obvious I think it is a 5/5 star book, don’t you?
An absolutely beautiful and poignant coming-of-age, Suncatcher is set against the political unrest in the 1960s Ceylon and it is a coming-of-age which I definitely recommend to you all!
A coming-of-age novel!
This was my first Gunesekera book and by god, am I a fan now! Suncatcher was a beautiful and poignant coming-of-age novel, or a bildungsroman, as we lit grads like to put it.
Setting and background:
The story is set in the 1960s Ceylon, erstwhile Sri Lanka, and it is a time of great political change all around; the reverberations of these political happenings resonate throughout the book and control how the adults act or what they say.
Themes of illusions and traps
One of the important themes that I could figure was that of illusion. Be it the adults or Jay himself, everyone seems to be deliberately altering the way he or she perceives reality and moreover, an entire section on the construction of the cage and the way how Jay perceives it towards the end is reminiscent of the way the system has caged the people. Society, class, economic situation, language, etc are all dividing lines.
Coming-of-age: The protagonist
At the center, we have the protagonist Kairo, a pretty much normal guy whose life takes for an exciting turn when he meets the worldly and confident Jay.
The similarity to The Great Gatsby
For all his dreams and hopes, Jay reminded me of Fitzgerald’s famous character Jay Gatsby. Jay is a boy whose personality greatly mesmerizes and influences Kairo and he comes off as an idealistic visionary, a talented naturalist and a rebel. There are many layers to his personality, however, and as the story progresses, we learn more about him.
A coming-of-age: Jay and Kairo
However, as Jay seems to be oblivious to the unstable situation all around him, Kairo seems to be a more emphatic and emotionally intelligent boy who takes stock of the things going on around him, although at the time he may not understand their significance. Jay and Kairo as a pair, seem to be a juxtaposition of two vastly different worlds; where Kairo belongs to the bourgeoisie, Jay can be said to belong to the ‘landed gentry’, for lack of a better term.
The similarity to Rhett Butler!!
Another character who was very interesting was Uncle Elvin. If Jay reminds me of Jay Gatsby because of his visionary ways, Elvin seems to embody Rhett Butler in his manner of living. I do not know why, but I somehow saw Clark Gable, more specifically his persona as Rhett Butler as Elvin, which is full of fast cars, girls and his extravagant ways.
A realistic writing style
As for the writing, the language is descriptive and so wholesome! The author has been able to well portray the thinking of youngsters burgeoning in their pre-adult years. There is a sense of rivalry that seems to be present, the need to be the leader and to dominate, etc. The use of the native words adds a very original flavor to the book.
I absolutely loved this book and I hope I can pick up more from the author’s milieu. I rate it 5/5 stars. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book. Also, the postcard is so aesthetic!
The Dutch House is a hauntingly beautiful family saga following the lives of the inhabitants of the eponymous and magnificent Dutch House.
Synopsis : At the end of the
Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to
begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to
enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a
lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for
his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older
sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the
house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are
thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all
they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them
that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot
overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are
only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they
return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But
when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the
relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is
The Dutch House
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is a beautiful and haunting saga revolving around the characters, all stemming from the eponymous Dutch House. Throughout the novel, we see the house as a character in itself. It forms an intrinsic factor is affecting the lives of all the people involved. Because of the opulence, this house brings with it with its majestic architecture, it also brings with it a huge responsibility and the issue of image.
The Dutch House’s meaning
On the one hand, we have Cyril Conroy who had bought this magnificent house as a gift for his wife; it is his pride and he loves it. His children Maeve, and her younger brother Danny love all its nooks and crannies. But on the other hand, to his wife, it is nothing more than a burden, one that intimidates her.
The characters of Sandy and Jocelyn
The house help Sandy and Jocelyn are also portrayed as characters who love the children, the lady of the house and are always permanent fixtures, who, although on the side, are unavoidable and welcome rather. They add the warm bits throughout, showering the children with love and care where there is a lack.
The bold and brave: Maeve
I simply loved Maeve’s character. She is shown as this hard-working and kind soul who just goes on and on even in the face of hardships. I love her role, especially as an elder sister. She is always there for her brother and never hesitates to give up so that he can achieve more.
The indulged brother: Danny
Danny, on the other hand, felt like a bit of a spoilt person to me. He is forever incapable of making mature decisions, I felt and was confused as to what decision to make. He seemed like a passive person most of the time and that makes him a bit unlikeable to me.
The evil stepmother: Andrea
Coming to Andrea, the ‘evil’ stepmother, I feel that she is sort of an enigma. The author has not really provided a solid back story to her and her two daughters which is why I think I have mixed feelings for her. On the one hand, I hate her for being the typical cruel stepmother and on the other hand, my mind is still holding on, unable to let go without knowing more about her.
The Dutch House is a beautiful book
Overall, I loved the way the author has written this beautiful book. It is a truly beautiful and nostalgia-inciting book, one that pulls you into the world. The way the house got back into the particular owner’s hands (I am not going to give you a spoiler), felt as if the story had come to a full circle. In a way, it was satisfying to behold. This has been one of the best books I have read this month, without a shadow of a doubt.