‘A heartwarming tale which will provoke tears and laughter in equal measure’
The Ludlow Ladies Society is the latest novel from Irish author Ann O’ Loughlin.
With two bestselling novels already under her belt, The Ballroom Cafe and The Judges Wife, this is a book that I have been looking forward to reading.
I was delighted to receive an advance copy from Black & White Publishing a few weeks back, so I packed it in my suitcase and brought it on my travels with me on my recent break. I was unable to get the review up in time for publication on the 4th July but I am delighted to share it with you all today.
Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.
At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.
The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.
Before I ever started to review books, I have to admit, I never paid too much heed to the foreward, afterward or acknowledgement sections. I have since corrected that and now make sure I read these all the time. I have discovered some wonderful facts about the author, with, in many cases, the reason and inspirations for writing their novel evident in the words expressed. The Ludlow Ladies Society is one such book.
I have read The Judges Wife by Ann O’ Loughlin (Review HERE) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Such a powerful book about a time in Irish History that should not be forgotten. Since then I have had the pleasure of Ann’s company on my Irish Writers Wednesday feature (Read HERE). I have had many communications over Social Media with Ann and I knew she was a journalist with the Irish Examiner, a paper with it’s origins in my home county of Cork. But….I knew nothing personal about Ann..until I read the Acknowledgements in the opening pages.
Ann O’ Loughlin’s mother, like mine, was a dressmaker and it is with these very special memories of spending time sewing with her mother that inspired Ann to write The Ludlow Ladies Society.
Ann stitched a memory quilt with her mother, sharing a passion for sewing and creating something very special physically but also they were creating something very special emotionally…they were stitching memories together.
Isn’t that just beautiful??
Connie Carter is bereaved, caught up in a world of grief, where nothing makes sense anymore. Leaving her home in New York, a place she has always loved and enjoyed, Connie heads to Ireland, to the beautiful county of Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland. But for Connie, the beauty is not something she can see, as her mind is shut down to all around her. Her husband, recently deceased, had purchased a very old and derelict property, known locally as Ludlow Hall. As to why he chose to invest all their earnings into the premises is unknown to Connie, so she makes the decision to come to Wicklow to check it out.
The house is boarded up with no sign of life, but something about it’s old walls call out to Connie and she decides to further investigate it’s history in the hope of discovering what is the connection to her husband.
As Connie tentatively checks out her surroundings, she steers clear of the locals, finding their curiosity both intrusive and uncomfortable.
But, as time slowly passes, Connie finds herself opening up a little and is soon befriended by two local ladies Eve and Hetty. They are members of a very special group of ladies who gather together regularly and stitch patchwork memory quilts, known locally as the Ludlow Ladies Society. This group of very special women have formed a unique bond over the years, supporting each other through life’s ups and downs.
Eve and Hetty have their own secrets that are deeply hidden but as time passes, these secrets begin to unravel along with Connie’s, like a spool of thread, as they discover a little more about each other’s past.
The Ludlow Ladies Society is very much a story about female friendship. and the strength of the bonds that develop over time. The women in this story are not unusual and their individual stories could be that of many women, but what makes this story so unique is the way their stories are literally stitched together like the memory quilts they make. There is a very strong theme of sewing in this book which will evoke memories for many who grew up in households where crafting was the norm.
The Ludlow Ladies Society is a book bursting with tenderness and compassion. At times the pages reveal heartache and pain, but also love and empathy. In reading this book, you will find yourself in the company of a lovely, yet determined and spirited, group of women, while you sip your cuppa and become part of their story.
I expect there will be a surge in the purchase of ‘Fat Quarters’ and thread, as up & down the highways & byways people rediscover the joy of stitching a quilt. Old blanket boxes will be dusted off as fabric is revealed from generations gone by…..just imagine!!!!
I look forward to more writings from Ann O’ Loughlin in the future but in the meantime here is the important stuff…
Purchase Link ~ The Ludlow Ladies Society
Meet the Author:
A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues.
Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast in Co. Wicklow with her husband and two children. Her debut novel The Ballroom Café was a bestseller, with over 250,000 copies sold in eBook. Her second novel The Judge’s Wife was an Irish bestseller for 5 weeks and was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel Award (RoNA) in February 2017.
Twitter ~ @annolwriter