What is your super power? We all have one. When we pool our resources and talents, we can make a huge dent in preventing violence against women. This is the theme of Susan Wiggs’ The Oysterville Sewing Circle. In an article about the book she wrote:
One of the main points of the book is that #MeToo cried out for a counterpoint — #WithYou. Women discover they’re not alone, that they can turn to others for help and support. . .
While writing this book I had to take an unflinching look at its effect on real life women. Some of the women who inspired this novel are close to me. Others are strangers who generously shared their experiences of trauma and survival with me in response to queries put online. The character are purely fictional, yet their stories are based on some of the hardest realities I’ve ever encountered while writing a book.
The Oysterville Sewing Circle is my story. It is the story of every woman who was unfortunate to cross paths with a powerful, abusive, vindictive man in their personal or professional lives. While Ms. Wiggs was writing the novel, I asked her to kick sand in his eyes. She did as only Susan Wiggs can. Loved it. Thanks, Susan! I’ve been waiting for 20 years for someone to write this story, and you did it brilliantly!
Although the book is pitched as being about survivors of domestic violence, it is more a tale of three kids who grew up and spent summers together in Oysterville, WA. Caroline’s parents run the town’s most popular restaurant. Because Will’s dad is a Navy SEAL, Will spends his summers with his grandparents. Sierra is a preacher’s kid who moves to town.
Caroline has a talent with a needle and design. She aspires to be a high fashion designer in NYC. She fell in love with Will the first time she saw him, but she lacks the courage to put her heart on the line. It was love at first sight for Sierra too, but she wasn’t so shy. Sierra follows Will to CA and becomes a fashion model. Will follows in his father’s footsteps to become a SEAL.
The trio end up back in Oysterville after Caroline’s best friend is found dead in her apartment leaving behind two undocumented little kids. Because Caroline accurately intuits that she and the kids aren’t safe in NYC, they return to Oysterville which is now home to the married couple, Will and Sierra. Caroline’s career is in tatters after her boss steals her designs and blackballs her from the fashion industry. Caroline’s family embraces and supports her as she stitches the shredded pieces of her life back together again.
Along the way, she forms the Oysterville Sewing Circle as a #WithYou support group for survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Wiggs does a brilliant job of describing the DV dynamic with a focus on just how brutal an abusive, powerful, vengeful man can be to the women who are unfortunate to cross his path either personally or professionally.
Ms. Wiggs kicks sand into the eyes of the powerful perpetrator in a way I did not see coming. Wow!
Her husband, Jerry Gunderson, is a fashion designer, and he inspired much of the book’s phenomenal plot which brilliantly stitches together many current issues including #MeToo and undocumented immigrants. You can order the Hero T-shirt in sizes from 2 to 6 at the J-Stitch website. They are too cute for words.
Mr. Gunderson also makes a very adorable fleece backpack vest in sizes 2 to 6 for little kids.
The Oysterville Sewing Circle a beach book which will stay with you long after the summer ends.