Friday, 20 April 2012
Alice's Tulips - Sandra Dallas
December, 1862, and Alice's husband of one year, Charlie, has gone off to fight the Confederates at the beginning of the American Civil war leaving Alice with Mother Bullock, Charlie's mother. She's only 20, and just does not know how she is going to bear it all. She's strong-willed, and says what she thinks, which does not endear her to her mother-in-law - but you have to do the best you can in these circumstances.
Told in the first person, and entirely by letters to her much loved sister Lizzie, we soon build up a picture of small town Iowa, those women left behind, and their reactions to every damned thing that happens. Gossip is rife, and this will certainly ensure that Alice falls foul of most of the town, especially when a local man is found dead. How Alice keeps going with her head held high, nurses her mother-on-law through illness, and does other acts of kindness are described in the letters without an ounce of conceit (well, perhaps a little, she does like pretty clothes and she is opinionated!). She and Lizzie obviously discuss sex too in their letters, it's not described, but referred to, including the result of a coupling with her husband that Lizzie can't cope with, having two very small children already....
Not hard to read, with chapter headings giving a little potted history of quilt patterns; this is not only a tale of hope over desperation, but a little gem containing snippets of the history of that time stitched into the quilts the quilting group make to send to soldiers.