Threading the Needle (Cobbled Court Quilt Series #4)by Marie Bostwick
From New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick comes a beautiful novel of sisterhood lost and foundand of the ways we create the rich tapestries that encompass the past and the future...
The economic downturn has hit New Bern, Connecticut, and Tessa Woodruff's herbal apothecary shop, For the Love of Lavender, is suffering. So is her/i>
From New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick comes a beautiful novel of sisterhood lost and foundand of the ways we create the rich tapestries that encompass the past and the future...
The economic downturn has hit New Bern, Connecticut, and Tessa Woodruff's herbal apothecary shop, For the Love of Lavender, is suffering. So is her once-happy thirty-four-year marriage to Lee. They'd given up everything to come back to New Bern from Boston and start their business, but now they're wondering if they made the right decision. To relieve the strain, Tessa signs up for a quilting class at the Cobbled Court Quilt Shop, and to her surprise, rediscovers the power of sisterhoodalong with the childhood friend she thought she'd lost forever...
Madelyn Beecher left New Bern twenty years ago and never looked back. But when her husband is convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and she's left with nothing but her late grandmother's cottage, she is forced to return to the town she fled. Unfortunately, the cottage is in terrible shape. Madelyn's only hope is to transform it into an inn. But to succeed, she'll need the help of her fellow quilters, including the one friend she never thought she'd see againor forgive. Now Madelyn and Tessa will have to relive old memories, forge new ones, and realize it's possible to start over, one stitch at a timeas long as you're surrounded by friends...
Praise for Marie Bostwick and her Cobbled Court Novels
"Bostwick is a topnotch storyteller...Enjoy hours of storytelling that will warm your heart and help renew your belief that people can be good, if given the chance." Armchair Interviews
"Heartwarming...Bostwick's contemporary New England quilters series is an unbreakable thread of friendship and faith." Publishers Weekly
"As their tenuous bonds grow stronger, each woman discovers how much they can help each other with life's many challenges. Bostwick's writing is warmly nourishing, emotionally compelling...quiet yet powerful." The Chicago Tribune
"The women in A Single Thread will feel like your own girlfriendsemotional, funny, creative and deeply caring. It's a story filled with wit and wisdom. Sit back and enjoy this big-hearted novel, and then pass it on to your best friend." Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author
"Bostwick beautifully captures the very essence of women's friendshipsthe love, the pain, the trust, the forgivenessand crafts a seamless and heartfelt novel from them." Kristy Kiernan, author of Matters of Faith
"[A] buoyant novel about the value of friendship...a tantalizing book club contender." Publishers Weekly
“Bostwick’s series continues to introduce interesting characters and compelling stories that show an appreciation for female friendship as well as a love for the art of quilting. Readers who have exhausted Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilt novels or Clare O’Donohue’s Someday Quilt mysteries will definitely enjoy Bostwick.” Library Journal
“...Uplifting.” RT BookReviews 4 star review
Read an Excerpt
Threading the Needle
By MARIE BOSTWICK
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Marie Bostwick
All right reserved.
I try to resist the urge, but as I sit in the offices of Blackman, Janders, and Whipple, located on the forty-eighth floor of the Mancuso Tower, a cathedral of excess located on Fifth Avenue at Fifty-sixth Street, I can't stop myself from adding it all up in my head and marveling at the true price tag of what Sterling used to call "a lifestyle." How did I fail to see it before? And how am I going to live without it?
How am I going to live at all?
The Oriental rug that sits under the antique mahogany partners desk of my attorney, Eugene Darius Janders, is hand-knotted silk and worth thirty thousand dollars at least—enough to buy a new car. It's very fine, though not as fine as the one in the library in our house in the Hamptons. I mean, the house that used to be ours. And if I added up the rest of the furnishings in Gene's office, it would probably be enough to buy a nice little cottage in the country for cash. Not a cottage in the Hamptons, mind you, but someplace quiet and removed from the city. Connecticut, maybe.
Then there's his wardrobe. Gene's suit is summer-weight wool, tan, two button, side-vented, custom made, probably in London, priced somewhere between five and seven thousand, which, even in New York, is enough to pay a month's rent for a two-bedroom apartment in a very decent part of town. His blue paisley tie, designed by Brioni, retails for one hundred and ninety-five dollars—enough to buy a week's groceries. I think. It's been a while since I did my own grocery shopping.
And the shoes. Oh, the shoes! Hand-tooled calfskin, individually and exquisitely custom made by John Lobb for a very small, exclusive clientele—the trust-fund set, celebrities, the upper echelon of Manhattan's successful lawyers, men like Eugene, a few brokers and money managers, including my husband, Sterling Baron, once one of New York's most successful fund managers, now one of its most notorious—men who don't balk at spending five thousand dollars for shoes. Only the very well-heeled can afford to stride down the sidewalks of New York in a pair of made-to-measure Lobb loafers.
Forgive me. That was a terrible pun, I know. But these days I have to take my humor where I can find it. At the moment, nothing about my life is especially funny.
Four months ago Sterling and I spent, for more than it takes to buy a pair of Lobb oxfords, a weekend in the Boathouse Suite at The Point, a very exclusive resort on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake, and we did it without even looking at the bill.
Was that only four months ago? That seems another lifetime, another life ... because it is.
Exclusive. What a word. I used to think it meant limited to a small number of the "best" people, but I've recently come to realize it means limited to whoever can pay, a club to which my membership has just been rescinded, as Eugene was now explaining.
"Bottom line is, Madelyn, you're broke."
I laughed nervously. "You mean broke like I'll have to rent out the house in the Hamptons this summer? Or broke like I'll have to apply for food stamps?"
"Madelyn, haven't you been listening to anything I've said?"
"I've been trying very hard not to."
"You don't have a house in the Hamptons anymore. The feds have seized it, and the condo in Vail, and the Bentley. The only reason you're still in your apartment is because I convinced the judge to give you until the end of the month to move out."
I felt a pressure in my chest. For a moment, I wondered if I might be having a heart attack, but I'm only fifty-six and in perfect health. I wasn't dying; I was panicking.
"But where am I supposed to go? Can't you get the judge to change his mind? I had nothing to do with this! I didn't cheat the investors out of their money, Sterling did. The investigators have cleared me of any wrongdoing. I knew nothing about it."
It's true. I didn't know anything about it. Sterling was rich when I met him, rich when I married him, and as time went on, he just got richer. He never talked to me about his business. There was no point, he said; matters of high finance were way over my head. "You can't be smart and beautiful, Madelyn, so why don't you stick to beautiful? That's what you do best." When we first married, he said it with a laugh, but after a few years, with a sneer.
Sterling was one of the most successful fund managers in New York. Even in years when the market was down, Sterling's investors made ten percent minimum. Nobody cared how, not until Bernie Madoff was exposed and suddenly the success of money managers with the Midas touch, people like Sterling, was called into question.
I didn't even know Sterling was under investigation until we came home from our weekend at The Point. I remember everything about that weekend, how strange it felt, not because we hadn't been there before—we go to The Point at least two or three times a year—but because of the way Sterling was acting. He was ... how shall I explain it? Attentive. He looked at me, looked me in the eye the way he hasn't looked at me in years. I wondered what he wanted. I kept waiting for him to say something, or do something, or ask for something. But he didn't. He just kept looking at me. And he held my hand when we walked to dinner. He hadn't done that since ... well, not for a very long time. And he didn't bring his cell phone along. He didn't make or take any calls for the entire weekend. Maybe that doesn't seem unusual, but that's because you don't know my husband. Once, we went to dinner at the White House and Sterling left during the salad course to take a call from his secretary. Of course, he was sleeping with his secretary at the time, but that particular call, I believe, was about business.
Anyway, Sterling didn't talk on the phone once that weekend. He talked to me. He listened to me. And for a little while, it was nice, almost like it was in the early days, when he cared, back in the days when I cared too. So long ago.
We didn't talk on the drive home. Sterling seemed to pull into himself. I kept going over the weekend in my mind, thinking that maybe, just maybe, we might be happy, that Sterling had undergone some transformation, decided to be a real husband to me. I wondered if that could be true. And I wondered if it wasn't too late.
Returning home, we were met by stern-faced FBI agents who handcuffed my husband and took him away while I stood watching, hoping I'd wake up from this nightmare soon. I didn't.
Sterling seemed unfazed. With his hands behind his back, half hidden by the starched whiteness of his French cuffs, he calmly told me to call Mike Radnovich and cancel their golf game and then to ask Gene to meet him at the police station.
Gene has never liked me. The feeling is mutual, but he's very good at his job. If anyone could get us out of this mess, it was Gene.
"Seriously, Gene, can't you do something? Talk to the judge, get me some more time? You did it before. I didn't do anything wrong, so why am I being punished? Where do people expect me to live? On the street?"
Gene leaned forward, his forearms resting on his desk. "Madelyn, don't you get it? No one cares. Over the years, Sterling took twenty billion dollars from his clients, told them he was going to invest it for them, all but guaranteed them a minimum ten percent annual return, and then sat on the money. Compared to Madoff, Sterling is small potatoes, but still ... a billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money. People are angry and they're looking for someone to blame."
None of this was news to me, not anymore. Gene had given up referring to the charges leveled against Sterling as "allegations" weeks before. Eugene Janders is a brilliant litigator, but he's not a magician. Even his talent has its limits. After looking at the evidence, Gene said that Sterling's only chance of not dying in a prison cell was to plead guilty, display remorse, and hope for a lenient judge.
He was probably right. Even so, I couldn't help but notice that Gene offered this advice right after our bank accounts had been frozen. You can call me cynical (and you'd be right), but I couldn't help but wonder. Would Gene have been quite so ready to throw in the towel if Sterling still had access to an almost unlimited supply of cash to pay for the services of Blackman, Janders, and Whipple? Sterling's admission of guilt might be his best shot for a lighter sentence, but it was also the cheapest way for Gene's firm to rid itself of an unwinnable case and a client whose pockets weren't nearly as deep as they'd been. It was all very convenient.
"Sterling kept the game going by reeling in new fish and using their money to pay off his longer-term investors. As well as," Gene said after a dramatic pause—he had a habit of always speaking as if he were addressing a jury—"financing his lavish lifestyle ... and yours.
"A lot of people have lost a lot of money, Madelyn. Little old ladies don't have enough to pay rent at their assisted living communities. Folks who were looking forward to a secure retirement on a golf course are realizing that they're going to have to keep working for years to come. Parents who had scrimped and saved to make sure their kids could go to college are filling out applications for educational loans that will leave them in debt for years. Families are losing their homes. Charities that entrusted their endowments to Sterling are being forced to cut back programs or even close—"
"I know that!"
Gene shook his head sorrowfully and continued, ignoring my interruption. "And every time those people turn on the television, or boot up the computer, or flip through a tabloid, they see a picture of Sterling coming through the door of his private plane—with you behind him. Or Sterling at the helm of his yacht—with you sitting next to him. Or Sterling, in his custom-made tuxedo, walking down the red carpet at a Broadway premiere—with you on his arm, wearing a diamond choker from Harry Winston—"
"I don't have it anymore! I had to give it up. All my jewelry, everything Sterling ever gave me. Even my engagement ring," I said through gritted teeth. The loss of the ring didn't bother me. If I hadn't had to surrender it to the court, I'd have happily thrown it in Sterling's face.
"No judge who cares about public opinion," Gene droned on, "and that's all of them, is going to stick out his neck to help the wife of Sterling Baron right now. No one cares about your problems, Madelyn. People have problems of their own."
"I understand that! And I feel terrible about it, but it's not my fault. If I'd known what Sterling was up to, I'd have left him, or stopped him, or ... something, but I didn't know! I'm as much a victim of his schemes as anyone else," I said, ignoring the twitch at the corner of Gene's mouth.
"I've lost everything too. What am I supposed to do now? Where am I supposed to go? The government has seized all our assets, frozen all our accounts."
"So you were paying attention."
"Yes!" I snapped. "I know I'm not a Rhodes Scholar, Gene—Sterling was always so quick to remind me—but even I can understand words like 'Madelyn, you're broke'!"
Gene reached into the breast pocket of his jacket.
"Don't bother getting out your handkerchief, Gene. I'm not going to cry."
He stared at me, to see if I meant it. I stared back.
"Just tell me what I'm supposed to do now. What have I got left? There must be something."
Gene's eyes flitted over the surface of his desk as he looked for and eventually found a blue file folder. "There is," he said, opening the file. "You've got an account in your name, and your name only, which is a good thing, at the Connecticut National Bank."
"I do? Oh, wait! I do! I remember now. The money I'd saved before I married Sterling. I'd forgotten. It's been sitting there all this time?"
Gene nodded. "And gaining interest."
"Really? It can't be that much, though."
"It isn't," he said. "New Bern National is pretty conservative. Still, your average return over the last thirty years was a little more than seven percent, which means your little nest egg is now worth $119,368.42."
A hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Less than the cost of my surrendered diamond choker. Less than the annual maintenance fee on the penthouse apartment I had to vacate by the end of the month, leaving everything behind—my furniture, my paintings, my china—everything but my clothes and what few possessions I could prove had been mine before my marriage.
"Cheer up, Madelyn. It could be worse. You could have invested your money with Sterling. Then you'd really be broke." Gene started to chuckle, but I shot him a look filled with such loathing that he dropped his eyes and mumbled an apology.
"I was just trying to help you see the bright side."
He cleared his throat and shuffled the papers in my file. "I've got some more good news," he said officiously. "I lit a fire under my associates, got them to hurry along the probate of your grandmother's estate. It's done. You can claim your inheritance free and clear. Good timing, don't you think?"
"What are you talking about? She cut me out of her will years ago, even before I met Sterling."
I felt a flush of heat in my chest. Even from the grave, Edna Beecher, the meanest, most disapproving old woman who ever walked the earth, could still upset me.
"She was bluffing? I can't believe it. How much did she leave to me?"
Gene held up his hand. "No money. She split that between her church and the Humane Society. Not that there was much to begin with. She left you the house—"
"The house? On Oak Leaf Lane?"
"Yes." Gene drew his brows together. "Did she have another house?"
"No ... I just ..." I said quietly, laying my hand over the warm place on my chest, "I'm just surprised. It's known as Beecher Cottage. Our family is distantly related to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the famous abolitionist who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and her father, Lyman Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher, her brother, preachers who were nearly as famous as Harriet in their day. They lived in Litchfield, east of New Bern.
"You see what pious Yankee stock I'm descended from," I said with a hollow laugh. "My grandmother was almost as proud of her Beecher heritage as she was disappointed in me. The cottage is the last remnant of that heritage. I never thought she'd leave it to me."
"According to her will, she didn't want to," Gene said, picking up a yellowed paper and scanning it. "But it seems the old lady couldn't bear to leave the family house in the hands of strangers, so, as the last Beecher standing, she felt she had no choice but to leave it to you. Along with many admonitions about avoiding the bad end she felt sure you'd come to." He lifted his gaze. "Shall I read them to you?"
"No, thanks. I've heard them all—a million times."
Gene closed the folder. "Ghostly harangues aside, it's all good for you. Gives you somewhere to go."
"Somewhere to go? Where?"
Gene blinked and shook his head slightly, as if amazed by my denseness. "New Bern, of course. You need a place to live and now you've got one—Beecher Cottage."
The hot spot on my chest grew hotter and larger, spreading up my neck to my cheeks. "New Bern? I'm not going back to New Bern!"
"I don't see as you have a lot of choice, Madelyn. You've got to live somewhere. Why not New Bern? I hear it's very picturesque. Lots of trees. Lots of scenery ..."
Lots of memories.
"Most people would be thrilled to inherit a nice cottage in Connecticut."
"I'm not most people!" I snapped. "And I'm not going back to New Bern! Call a Realtor. Tell them to sell the house. Tell them I'll consider any offer."
Gene took off his glasses, revealing his impatience. "Don't be an idiot, Madelyn. The housing market has hit rock bottom. Or hadn't you heard?"
"Yes," I said, loathing Gene at least as much as he loathed me, "but there's got to be someone out there who is willing to buy it if the price is right."
Gene shook his head. "I talked to your grandmother's attorney, Franklin Spaulding. He told me that there hasn't been a real estate closing in New Bern for the last seven months. Nobody is buying, not at any price."
"But ... there has to be ... surely there's ... I can't live in New Bern...."
Gene smacked his hands against his mahogany desk. I jumped, startled.
"Madelyn! Will you listen to yourself? Not five minutes ago you were asking where you were going to live and what you were going to live on. I've gotten you a check for a hundred grand and a house and all you can do is gripe! If not for me, you'd be living in the state women's prison. I think a little gratitude is in order here, don't you?"
Excerpted from Threading the Needle by MARIE BOSTWICK Copyright © 2011 by Marie Bostwick. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I love, love, loved this book! If you haven't discovered the "Cobbled Court Quilt Shop" in New Bern, and its delightful Quilt Circle of personalities, I strongly suggest you do. You're missing out on something special. Besides meeting or reacquainting yourself with Evelyn, Virginia, Abigail, Margot and Ivy, to name a few, you will follow Tessa and Madelyn on their journey from childhood to adult, through marriage and divorce, complete with a large helping of entrepreneurship, spiced with romance and sisterhood that will tug at your heartstrings. Madelyn and Tessa rediscover the value of undying friendship through good times and bad as they struggle through scandal, financial hardship and the dissolution of dreams. I'm betting their courage and love will stir your emotions as it did mine and make you sad when you reach the final chapter and have you wishing for more!
This book.had the potential to be really good but it dragged at the end and was left unfinished. It was very frustrating after investing so much time reading it.
This series got me interested in quilting. In fact, I am working on my first quilt project, a lap quilt. I'm also going to quilt a western style cal king bedspread since I couldn't find anything I liked. I did have to buy a How To Do Quilting Book in order to know what to do. So far, I am enjoying it.
I still love this series and can't wait for the next!
It was so nice to read about the love others have for quilting and see it woven into an enjoyable book!
This is a great series, I'm just sorry I've caught up with the author now I will have to wait for #5. I nice story of friendship and second chances.
Review by Valerie: For those of you that read like to read books about lifelong friendships, this one's a must! In the newest book from the series, two friends, Madelyn and Tessa, tell their stories from childhood into adulthood in alternating chapters. While Tessa has what seems like the normal family life a child should have, Madelyn does not. After years of being inseparable, their friendship splinters and ends as boys and growing up enter the picture. Now, years later, both women find themselves returning to the town of their childhood where nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. Madelyn is flat out broke and Tessa is struggling to make a go of her herbal products store. The first time they see each other is not a happy occasion, for either of them. New Bern is a small town with gossips and eyes and ears everywhere. Both women have to deal with their memories from growing up as well as the women they are today. When Tessa finally reaches out to Madelyn in an extraordinary gesture of friendship, she has no idea how to respond. She's a user and she expects to be used in return. She can't help but wonder what her former friend is up to. When a local handyman offers to help her fix up her cottage, again, she wonders what he's up to. Somewhere along the way, Madelyn figures out that it's her life that needs changing and not the people around her. How she and Tessa rekindle their friendship and manage to make a life where they both fit in was a joy to read. Ms. Bostwick's writing style is smooth and flows page after page...just like someone is reading to you. For quilters, this book will be a joy! There are many references to quilting, as well as patterns just for her readers on her website! Quote: "Maybe the New Bern of the 1960s wasn't all that different from the New Bern of today, populated with the good and the not-so-good. In the end, maybe it all comes down to where you choose to look and what team you decide to play for." Page 299
This has been a Great series. I met Marie at a Quilt show, What a lovely lady, she said the next one should out in the spring of 12.
Madelyn Beecher has been giving the good life for many years, spending willy-nilly and never wondering where a penny is coming from. Hers is a marriage of convenience, as she is the trophy wife, beautiful and able to make her way through upper society without a blip. She lacked knowledge and so was thought beautiful but dumb at one time but quickly remedied that by slowly reading through the dozen books her husband, Sterling Baron, insisted she read. All in all, Madelyn has overcome the horrible rejection she suffered as a young girl who was rejected by her best friend and the chaos she created through some unwise choices as a young woman before her wedding. But Madelyn's world has now, in the present, hit rock bottom, her husband indicted on fraud charges from the Ponzi scheme rip-offs he conducted that robbed hundreds of whatever money they had. In plain English, she's a pariah again but this time because of being the wife of a criminal hated by the many he duped! Having hocked her jewelry and everything else, Madelyn discovers an inheritance that she must redo, the home where she grew up and now hers with her grandmother's death. She is pretty useless in the beginning but quickly develops a set of skills she never realized she had. Her support in these endeavors is the loveliest part of this story. In town are Tessa and Lee Woodruff, Tessa being the gal who years ago crushed Madelyn with unexpected shunning. But now she's got her own problems. Tessa and Lee's world is crumbling financially as his business isn't enough to get by and Tessa's small store where she sells home-made herbals is failing. Stressed out, they begin arguing which grows worse when Madelyn returns to town and decides to set up a small bed and breakfast inn. To tell more would be a spoiler, but this reviewer assures every potential reader that this novel is one of the most touching stories read in a long time. It's so real it's almost tangible, showing the evolution from spiteful, small-mindedness to the compassionate, giving nature of fierce and caring characters. There are great segments on quilting that are the heart of this tale, piecing together appropriate old segments that yield a tapestry of love sure to warm the hardest of hearts! Absolutely delightful, Ms. Bostwick!
In this novel about faith, friendship and forgiveness, the characters are likeable and in depth. It reads like a magazine article about friends. I read this as a stand alone novel, however there are a few before it. I enjoyed that in the tradition of books like The Firday Night Knitting Club Series the women have a crafty hobby that brings them together, yet in this book I feel it was one of the first in the genre to include the male dynamic into the storyline. I enjoyed the book and have found a new author to follow.