The main character, Kate Robinson, is a young Irish-American designer from Seattle. She has been having a rough time. First, after five years together, her steady boyfriend run off with a model, a girl ‘as thin and angular as a praying mantis’ (I loved this description) who worked with Kate and even pretended to be her friend; then her first fashion show was a flop and finally her beloved mother died of cancer. Kate decides to go on a trip to Ireland, the country of her ancestors, which she had planned with her mother. She is a traveler, not a tourist, so apart from visiting main local tourist traps she also wanders off the beaten track and ends up in a sleepy little town called Glenmara – a place which hasn’t seen a visitor for months.
She lets a room with Bernie – a childless widow who strives to survive selling hand-made lace. As Kate is interested in clothes soon enough she gets intrigued by the lace-making techniques and she stays longer in order to learn more. That’s how she meets other lace makers – all of them women past their prime with different problems – and also a certain insolent potter who will cause her heart beat faster despite the fact that she is still missing her ex-boyfriend. Then a great idea comes to her mind – she wants to incorporate lace into underwear, creating unique, beautiful pieces of clothing. It might be a chance for the whole town but somehow an elderly Catholic priest is not so sure whether it would be appropriate at all…
What I liked:
It was a sweet, short read about founding your own way, rediscovering your skills and pulling yourself by your bra straps (pun intended). The story reminds me of why our friendships as women are very important and how true frienships can withstand whatever life throws at you. I could relate to Kate without any problem – I know how it hurts when you are ditched and nothing seems go right for you any longer. I also liked the life stories of other Glenmara inhabitants which were bittersweet but close to real life and engaging. They created a nice background for our heroine’s fates.
The pace of narration was rather slow but still keeping you riveted and interested. The presentation of Ireland with its music and folklore appealed to me a lot – the books is rich in Irish legend and history. The ending of the book was very uplifting and soothing. From time to time a good solid HEA works like a wonder – I was happy Kate found a new love interest and managed to help so many other women.
Finally I really enjoyed the scene of a wedding organized by the members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. What a pity it wasn’t described in more detail and it ended so badly for Kate!
What I didn’t like:
If only laced underwear could solve all your personal and professional problems I suppose both women and men would wear nothing else. The fact that so many wrongs were righted by the simple fact of wearing nice panties and bras I found a bit silly. Ok, there was one exception to the rule – in the case of one woman pretty underwear made the whole situation worse but still, the picture was a bit too rosy for being believable.
A nice short read, neither very serious nor very shallow – perfect for a relaxing summer day on a beach or in a park! I recommend this book, especially to those who are tired of paranormal stuff. I would be willing to try another book of Ms Barbieri. BTW in Poland there is a real life equivalent of Glenmara – the town is called Koniaków and it is famous of hand-made lace underwear as well. Like this top: