The Lace Makers of Glenmara

The Lace Makers of Glenmara

by Heather Barbieri

Published in 2009

Genre: Cultural Chick Lit

Five Stars

 “You can always start again,” Kate Robinson’s mother once told her, “all it takes is a new thread.” Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, the struggling twenty-six-year-old fashion designer follows her mother’s advice and flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland, hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself.

She arrives on the west coast, in the seaside hamlet of Glenmara. In this charming, fading Gaelic village, Kate quickly develops a bond with members of the local lace-making society.

Under Glenmara’s spell, Kate finds the inspiration that has eluded her, and soon she and the lace makers are creating a line of exquisite lingerie. In their skilled hands, flowers, Celtic dragons, nymphs, fish, saints, kings, and queens come to life, rendered with painterly skill. The circle also offers them something more—the strength to face their long-denied desires and fears. But not everyone welcomes Kate, and a series of unexpected events threatens to unravel everything the women have worked so hard for.


This novel quickly became engrossing and irresistible. I think it was really the first page: Learning to Sew.

My favorite, moving quote was

      “You hesitate, thinking of past mistakes, when you threw the pieces across the room in a fit of anger because nothing was coming together the way it should, and you cried over a misshapen collar or sleeve, lying prone in your lap as an injured child.

And yet you must press your lips together, pick up the thread. Don’t be afraid. You’ll find your way.”

Don’t be afraid. You’ll find your way. And you will, you really will. Just as you will find your heart in Ireland, listening to women about their lives and the traditions they refuse to give up. Bernie, with printing a strictly Gaelic newspaper, the native language that is slowly slipping away. Throw in religious beliefs, staying and settling, and a foreigner and you just touch the surface of Glenmara and this novel. It becomes more than a small town not being open to change. It is more than one woman joining a lace making circle and deciding to reinvent their drab lingerie. Each woman finds their own way.

“…but destiny had a number of tricks up her sleeve, didn’t she, both joyful and tragic?”

I got inspired to find my own way. The novel wasn’t just a novel for me. The women were not really fictitious to me.  I may sound vague about the plot, however this is a novel where a quick sum up won’t do. Besides, it is relatively short under three hundred pages. I just loved the writing. I felt like I was back in Ireland. To me, that is a sure sign that the author is doing his or hers job. It is hard when I feel apathetic towards characters, settings, and plots. When even an object makes me feel something, the author really is talented. I felt connected to the lace, feeling the powers it began to have over the women; unbeknownst to the women. The women of the lace making circle were content with the tea towels, table cloths, and napkins. Yet, as the way things are, all it takes is one chance, one jump, one stranger to challenge things, and widen a closed mind’s perspective.


Of course with all the learning, growing, and learning/remembering to love, you have the great Garda, Glenmara police. While reading the novel, there are little tidbits thrown in about calls the Garda received. I am going to list a few gems there were.

                         Woman says a faerie has enchanted her well; when she tries to bring up a bucket of water, the rope breaks. Garda says she’s usurping the faeries’ property rights and should pay a usage fee. One Euro is the going rate, the faerie economy not being immune to inflation.

Man calls Garda, says neighbor’s bull is remodeling his house. Garda asks if he’s putting in a new kitchen. No, he says, the bull is taking it down.

Woman calls Garda, says neighbor won’t stop gardening in the nude. Garda asks if he is good-looking. No, she says, he has a pot belly and skinny legs. Well, Garda says, the weather’s changing and he’ll have to put a raincoat on the morrow. That should improve the view.

There are a few more gems, I could just only write down so many. They were great to read and break up the intensity that sometimes popped up.

I can’t recommend this quick, engrossing reads enough. I never expected to love this novel. Sometimes, I get in a reading rut. I read a book a week, or less. I can’t find a book that grabs my attention. It is nice when I happen upon a hidden gem. I got this on my nook for a great price, but as I did with Ruby Red, I let it set on the wayside. It is nice when I go through my e-library with no real intent. That is when I truly discover a book of mine that I gave no mind to buying. I just figured it was cheap. I am realizing that the cheap books are just as good, or better, than the pricey more advertised ones.

If you have an e-reader, and feel like browsing, take a long look at this book. It is worth the spontaneity and quick click of the buy. It has lit something inside me, for some reason. I started to re-evaluate things and put my life into action. Have you read a book like that before? This is more than a possible Chick Lit categorized book. It really is. And, if only I could quote the last line of the book. If only…