December 18, 2018

Fans of Antho­ny Doerr’s All the Light We Can­not See, will enjoy The Dream Stitch­er! The Dream Stitcher’s sto­ry moves elo­quent­ly between two time peri­ods and places, Amer­i­ca in 2008 and World War II Poland.Hard times are forc­ing Maude Fields to take in her estranged moth­er, Bea, whose secrets date to World War II. Bea arrives with a hand-embroi­dered recre­ation of La Tapis­serie de la Reine Mathilde, the icon­ic 11th cen­tu­ry Bayeux Tapes­try. The repli­ca con­tains clues to the iden­ti­ty of Maude’s father and the myth­i­cal Dream Stitch­er, Goldye, a Jew­ish free­dom fight­er who helped launch the 1943 War­saw Ghet­to Upris­ing. With the help of her preg­nant daugh­ter Rosie, Maude is deter­mined to unrav­el decades of fam­i­ly decep­tion to learn the truth about her parent­age. With Poland on the brink of inva­sion by Nazi Ger­many, Goldye dis­cov­ers — with the guid­ance of imag­i­nary friend Queen Mathil­da — that she can embroi­der dreams that come true. She becomes an appren­tice at Kamin­s­ki Fine Fab­rics, where she gains a rep­u­ta­tion for cre­at­ing wed­ding dress­es for Aryan brides that bring their dreams to real­i­ty. She becomes known as the Dream Stitcher.

Goldye meets and falls in love with Lev, a free­dom fight­er who wants to unite Jews and Poles to fight the Ger­mans. Goldye sews images to help him. And she cre­ates a pow­er­ful sym­bol for the resis­tance of the com­mon peo­ple: a stitched hum­ming­bird that spreads hope. Goldye leaves the ghet­to to live with her sewing men­tor, Jan Kamin­s­ki, who gains iden­ti­ty papers for Goldye as his Aryan niece. A Nazi com­man­dant takes Jan and Goldye on a dan­ger­ous trip to France to deci­pher the sym­bols in The Bayeux Tapes­try. The Nazis hope images in the Bayeux will rein­force Germany’s right to world dom­i­na­tion. In Cal­i­for­nia, Maude’s quest for the truth leads to fam­i­ly she didn’t know she had, and per­haps, love.

Discussion Questions

The Dream Stitch­er is a com­pelling work of fic­tion that jux­ta­pos­es three gen­er­a­tions of women and their respec­tive expe­ri­ences from 1930s Poland to Cal­i­for­nia in 2008. Out­side forces inter­twine with mag­i­cal real­ism to rein­force the sub­tle and not-so-sub­tle impact his­to­ry has upon them. This is a thought-pro­vok­ing book that illus­trates how our choic­es and reac­tions to life-alter­ing events have pro­found and far reach­ing effects.

Woven into the char­ac­ters’ sto­ries are themes that res­onate — the impact of World War II, and the per­son­al sac­ri­fices one makes in order to sur­vive; the sense of oblig­a­tion one feels towards a moth­er and/​or a child, no mat­ter how frac­tured the rela­tion­ship may be.

From the pre­lude that draws one into the world of mag­i­cal real­ism, this nov­el was a clear favorite of the pan­el. It embod­ies all the ele­ments of good read.”