3 secrets. 27 notebooks. 4 generations. 1 blog. Millions of stitches.
Well now here’s a blog-tour that was just made for me!!
The Sewing Machine is the debut novel from Natalie Fergie, a book that spans generations from the 1911 mass strike at The Singer Factory in Clydebank, Scotland to more than 100 years later to 2016 in Leith.
Natalie Fergie takes the reader on a journey with a sewing machine and it’s impact on the generations that followed.
I have a review for you today of The Sewing Machine and as always my review is unbiased and voluntary.
‘It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.
Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.
More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.
His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.
He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.’
This is a novel for anyone who goes to jumble sales, charity shops, American Yard Sales or Australian Op Shops. It’s for people who wonder who owned that old biscuit tin or the tatty cookbook with the writing in the margins, and who are intrigued by the stories these objects might tell.
The Sewing Machine is a book with a big heart.
Following the story of Jean, we are taken back to a time in history where workers rights were unheard of, particularly those of women. An incident in the Singer factory, involving three women, resulted in one of the biggest mass strikes of the time, when 10,000 people walked out in support in the hope of highlighting the working conditions.
Jean lives with her father who is a man of old stock, with beliefs far different to Jean. As she stands up with the masses and in support of her betrothed Donald, her life moves forward in a direction that she never expected. Jean worked in the testing department of the machines but as life gets more complicated, Jean discovers life outside the factory walls and beyond the confines of her father’s house. We get an insight into the poverty and difficulties that these workers faced at the time as they struggled to cope with impending war and rations.
Natalie Fergie then brings the reader to 100 years later. Fred is going through a few life changes of his own. After the passing of his grandfather, Fred has some major life decisions to make. He writes a blog to convey his feelings as it his way of expressing himself and the challenges he too now faces.
The book is broken up into sections where as a reader we are introduced to life in the early 1900s, the 1950’s, the 1980’s and 2016. These are all very significant times in our society’s history revolving around wars, pre and post, the recession-hit 1980s and our modern society with the focus on the internet/blogging etc.
Natalie Fergie’s book is almost an historical journal of our time, travelling through the lives of the different generations.
There is one story that I think will strike a chord with many and that is the one of Connie and Alf. For many of us they would be reminiscent of our grandparents/parents time, when life seemed to move at a much slower pace and the simple routines of life were enough.
It is through a series of discovered notebooks that unearths a history of the many lives who had the fortune to use this particular machine. The story of all the different seamstresses is expressed though the various windows opened within the pages of these books.
I was reared in an environment surrounded by buttons and thread with the hum of a Singer a constant in the background. My blog name was inspired by my own history and with Natalie Fergie’s wonderful use of bobbins and fabric, I was lucky to relive some very precious memories.
The Sewing Machine is a novel woven together using the different threads of the lives of different generations. The end result is a very warm heartfelt look at the impact of one sewing machine on so many.
Natalie Fergie’s publication of this book, in association with Unbound, displays her passion for sewing, with her love for her own machines shining through in every page. There is a wonderful attention to detail with the descriptions of each generation and the associated threads and fabric portrayed vividly.
The Sewing Machine is a delightful book filled with the wonderful tapestry of life interwoven with the magic of one very unique vintage Singer Sewing Machine.
Purchase Link ~ The Sewing Machine
Meet Natalie Fergie:
Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one woman dyeing business, sending parcels of colourful and unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a 27 year career as nurse and latterly, as a Health Visitor.
Natalie lives near Edinburgh with her husband, and a dog called Boris. Her sons have flown the nest.
The Singer 99k which was the inspiration for novel has had at least four previous owners, possibly more. It was bought for £20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier.
It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house.
You can find out more about Natalie at www.nataliefergie.com
Images are all credited to photographer Alison Gibson