I saw the opening of The Persian Pickle Club film! So what if it was only a minute or two and the movie has yet to be made. The teaser almost made me cry. It captures the feeling of the book, from the Kansas country roads to the parched earth of the Great Depression to the bright quilt flapping on a clothesline. I felt I was no longer on the sideline creating characters in a book but was standing in the dust of our Dallas farm in Harveyville, Kansas, 80 years ago. I could believe I was sitting beside Queenie Bean in the Model A as it bumped along the dirt road. I wanted to reach out and run my hand over the patches of the quilt.
This happened in April, when Bob and I went to a film launch party in Omaha, where producer Christine Fiore lives. The party was in an elegant Stanford White-designed building, and the guests were friends, investors, and professional filmmakers. Scriptwriter Jen Andres attended, along with a host of people who will work on the movie, including the textile artists who are designing the quilts and even the fabrics for them. I’ve never seen so many thin women in black. Waitresses in aprons passed around the kind of food Queenie would have loved—miniature rhubarb pies, for instance.
Christine’s husband, cinematographer Mauro Fiore, who will film the movie, brought the Academy Award he won for his work in “Avatar.” People posed for pictures holding the Oscar. I thought that was sort of tacky and wouldn’t do it myself. Well, okay, so I didn’t have a camera.
Movie rights for The Persian Pickle Club have been optioned on and off ever since the book came out more than 15 years ago, but nothing’s ever come of the deals. So I’ve gotten a little jaded. But after seeing Christine’s teaser, I realized that not only is this movie going to be made at last, but that it will honor the book and my characters—and my mom and dad, who inspired The Persian Pickle Club.
True Sisters made its debut on the prestigious New York Times best-seller list the week of its debut. This is the second of Sandra’s novels to make the Times’ list. Prayers for Sale was also a New York Times best-seller. The book has drawn rave reviews from a dozen national publications. Click on the following links for reviews:
The Quilt Walk, my first children’s book, will be published on September 15. Written for girls ages eight to 12, it is based on the title story in The Quilt That Walked to Golden, my history of quilting in Colorado and the Mountain States. I’ll be at Book Expo in New York in June to promote the book. In the fall issue of Piecework, I’ll tell you why I decided to try my hand at writing children’s fiction. It’s not as easy as you think—or as I thought.
Here’s an early review from Kirkus:
THE QUILT WALK
When 10-year-old Emmy Blue Hatchett’s father announces that the family will be traveling from their home in Illinois to the frontier town of Golden, Colorado, the reaction to the news is as varied as the colors in one of their beloved hand-pieced quilts. It is 1863, and the Colorado Gold Rush is in full swing. Even with the exciting journey in front of them, Emmy and her parents cannot help mourning what they are forced to leave behind: friends, family, pets—and markers in the cemetery for lost loved ones. However, Emmy’s mother is an example of courage and strength, encouraging everyone around her to see life as an adventure and an opportunity to help others. Indian sightings, deadly snakes, a stray dog, new friends and the dreaded quilting hour all keep Emmy busy as they make the long crossing in their overburdened wagons. Period details, engaging characters and clever plot twists will entice even the most discerning fans of historical fiction. Populated with brave and intelligent women, Dallas’ story is as much about Emmy’s journey toward womanhood as their journey toward the West. Solid writing and a close attention to details make this story more than the sum of its parts.
Finely stitched. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
The Bride’s House is a finalist for the 2012 Colorado Book Award in the Literary Fiction Category. The winner will be announced June 22 at the Aspen Summer Words event in Aspen, Colo. The awards are sponsored by Colorado Humanities and the Colorado Center for the Book. Sandra has been a finalist twice before, for Alice’s Tulips and Prayers for Sale.
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America.
By John M. Barry. Touchstone.
I learned about the power of the Mississippi when I researched the post-Civil War sinking of the mighty Sultana steamboat for Whiter Than Snow. More people died in that tragedy, the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history, than in the sinking of the Titanic. What I didn’t realize until I read Rising Tide was the Mississippi is a dangerous, meandering, out-of-control river almost every year at flood time.
The river was at its worst in 1927. Hundreds of people died as it washed away jetties and levees along its path. Heavy rains filled the river’s tributaries, swelling the Mississippi until it burst through barriers and flooded everything in its path, destroying dozens of towns.
Rising Tide is not just the story of the 1927 flood. The author begins his narrative in the mid-19th century, when men first started to contain the river. He details the prejudice that existed during the flood when African-American men were forced to work on the levees without pay. When sandbags ran out, some even were forced to lie on the tops of the levees to keep the river from overflowing. The book also tells the power of a New Orleans oligarchy that insisted that levees south of the city be destroyed to lower the river and save their city, a move that impoverished thousands and ultimately turned out not to be necessary.
The flood made Herbert Hoover President. He was in charge of the welfare and reconstruction project, and newspaper praise put him into office, a office, as we all know now, for which he was unfit.
Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son.
By Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott. Riverhead Books.
Ten years ago, when my daughter was pregnant, I bought her Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, which is about the first year in the life of Lamott’s son, Sam. The book is so funny that I give it to all my pregnant friends.
Now at age 19, somewhat to his mother’s surprise, Sam finds himself a father, and Some Assembly Required is about baby Jax’s first year from his grandmother’s point of view.
It’s not easy being a grandmother. Lamott has to remind herself, “Oh, wait, they’re the parents.” She discovers that Sam and Amy, the baby’s mother, don’t necessarily want “my always excellent advice.” She is sympathetic. Sam’s father wasn’t in the picture, so Lamott was a single mother. Sam is part of a couple, but he is stressed with baby, work, and school, as well as immaturity. But he strives to be a good father, because he didn’t have one.
This book makes you laugh and maybe say a little prayer. Lamott is known for her unorthodox books on faith and her friendship with God, a closeness that makes her lament that she is not God’s West Coast representative. But mostly it is about her being a grandmother and her love for Jax “who makes me so much better better than I am.”
I’m buying this one for the mothers of pregnant friends. —SD