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Things to Make and Mend Hardcover – 1 Feb 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571230598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571230594
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,059,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'An impressively authentic and touching story of female
friendship.' -- Good Housekeeping

'Frequently luminous writing ... [with] acute observations.' -- Observer

'I'm...put in mind of Anne Tyler: in my book, that's praise
indeed.' -- David Robinson, The Scotsman

'Ruth Thomas's first novel shows her talent for stitching together touching and comic moments from ordinary lives.' -- Independent

'a delicate yet sturdy tale of trapped adolescence, nostalgia and
acceptance.' -- Catherine Taylor, Guardian

'a poignant story of silly misunderstandings, missed opportunities
and belated pleasures' -- Daily Telegraph

'beautifully observed ... glints and glows with sly humour and
gentle sadness as she describes the events that destroyed their
friendship.' -- Eithne Farry, Daily Mail

Book Description

Things to Make and Mend by Ruth Thomas is the long-awaited first novel from one of Scotland's most admired short story writers.



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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A delightful, beautifully written book. Insightful, funny, evocative, intriguing, sad. Set in the present, the divergent lives of best-school-friends Sally Tuttle and Rowena Cresswell are revealed through flashback to the late seventies, when the 15-year olds shared everything. It brought back to me the intensity of teenage relationships. And how fickle and judgemental we were. How everything is so black and white when we are young. And the use of needlework as metaphor (and just as needlework) was very satisfying. Loved it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sally Tuttle and Rowena Cresswell were inseparable friends at their nice girls' school in East Grinstead - until a dramatic incident led them to lose contact, and both drop out of school. Thirty years on, Sally works in a needlework shop and in her spare time as an embroiderer, specializing in large figurative wall hangings, while Rowena, who got back into education later on, is a lecturer in French, specializing in medieval and renaissance art, particularly tapestries. Sally is separated from her partner, with a teenage daughter, while Rowena has an adult son, and has married late in life to a kindly man who isn't her son's father. Both women are reasonably content, but feel that since they lost each other something has been missing. When Sally is awarded a needlework prize in Edinburgh and Rowena is invited to speak in that city at a conference on French tapestries at the same time, might fate bring them together again?

Thomas writes beautifully about the intensity of teenage friendship, and about how traditional crafts - the practising of them for Sally and the study of them for Rowena - have sustained both women through difficult times. I liked the way she constructed the narrative, flitting seamlessly from past to present and back, and (in contrast to her second novel, 'The Home Corner'), Thomas creates some memorable secondary characters, including snobbish historian Jeremy, Sally's bohemian former partner John, Rowena's son Joe and the needlework teacher Miss Button (though wasn't that surname a wee bit obvious?) - though Rowena's husband comes across as rather bland. There's a few nice descriptions of Edinburgh and Paris, and I enjoyed very much Sally's evolving career as an artist. The twist to the tale at the end was clever too.
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Format: Paperback
I love this author's style of prose - it is utterly gentle and yet at the same time, solid and strong.
Sally and Rowena - friends for life - until a teenage incident tears apart their friendship. Some twenty five or so years later, we see how the incident not only shaped who they became in so many ways but how easy it is to misinterpret a single event.
Told over a period of a couple of days, we are slowly led towards a chance meeting between the two - a reunion of sorts. RT writes with compassion and humility and her characterisation is flawless.
Highly recommended...
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By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had heard many good things about this book before I decided to read it and I think perhaps because of that I was slightly disappointed. Yes it was well written and the story was interesting but I did not think it was as marvellous as many people in the media have considered it to be. Sally wins a needlework prize and is invited to speak at a conference in Edinburgh.

The book darts back and forth in time and between the two main characters - Rowena and Sally - best of friends whilst they were at school. It gradually emerges that Sally had lost contact with Rowena when the latter became pregnant at 15. The thoughts and feelings of both women nearly 30 years later are well portrayed and the background is interesting.

I was reminded of early Anita Brookner in this author's attention to the details of everyday life and the feelings of insecurity which go through any woman's mind all the time. It is ultimately a hopeful book and reminds the reader that friendship is important in the scheme of things.
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