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Book Review: Threads of Life

Author Clare Hunter was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, with a story published in its 2017 Annual, a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award in 2016 and winner of the Saltire First Book Award for Threads of Life.  Clare is also a sewer, banner maker and community textile artist.

Credentials well suited to Clare’s début into non-fiction with her book, Threads of Life, a Sunday Times bestseller published by Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton in 2019.

This chronicle threads through time and place employing themes traversing history, politics, culture and art. Sixteen chapters rove through fascinating stitch-related narratives, dealing with Power, Captivity, Identity, Connection, Protest, Loss, Community, Voice, Art and much more.

From the first paragraph, this book promises to be an entertaining read – and it delivers.  Some of the stories are heart-wrenching, some inspiring and some almost unbelievable, however, Clare patches these sometimes emotive stories together beautifully, to form an absorbing and engrossing perspective into the simple act of sewing.

Clare cleverly connects the commonality of a needle and thread through her enchanting storytelling, using works such as the Bayeux Tapestry, the embroidery of Mary Queen of Scots, the modern phenomenon of Craftism and the women’s movement, the Suffragettes.

This small book of 306 pages simply begs to be read, and enjoyably so, lifting a lid on the sometimes unpleasant, but equally showcasing the healing and curative effect repetitive stitching can have.  It’s a powerful story.  It’s a heart-wrenching story, but most of all it’s a story that shines a light on an art too long allowed to languish in the shadows.

Beautifully written, emotive and thought-provoking.  This inspiring read also offers a short bibliography for each chapter at the end of the book.

This is a 10/10 from me, and the copy I purchased uses a marvellous image of embroidery snaking through and around the title.  If this was acknowledged somewhere in the book, I couldn’t find it.




Threads of Life - A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle
Clare Hunter
Enchanting, emotive writing providing a story-telling platform engaging the reader to travel through history, culture, politics and art via a needle and thread.

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