The Lace Makers of Glenmara: A Novel

The Lace Makers of Glenmara: A Novel

by Heather Barbieri


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061772467
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/22/2010
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 268
Sales rank: 509,602
Product dimensions: 8.04(w) x 5.48(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

The author of two previous novels, The Lace Makers of Glenmara and Snow in July, Heather Barbieri has won international prizes for her short fiction. She lives in Seattle with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The Lace Makers of Glenmara
A Novel

Chapter One

That Irish Rain

Kate had been traveling the road for hours, the rain her sole companion. It was an entertainer, that Irish rain, performing an endless variety of tricks for her amusement. It blew sideways, pounded and sighed and dripped. It hailed neat little balls of ice that melted off her hood and shoulders. She did her best to ignore it. She knew the type. She was from Seattle, after all, the city of her birth, life, and heartbreak. She'd left a few days after the separation on a day much like this nearly a month ago. She didn't know if she'd ever return, but the rain, or its cousin, followed, along with the memories that had driven her from that place.

The story was simple enough, or seemed to be, on the surface, as stories often are. She adopted a deadpan delivery in the telling, an amusing shtick, as if she were a warm-up act at a comedy club. She'd told the story on so many occasions, drawing laughs and knowing nods and sympathy, that she had the timing down pat. Three minutes. Three minutes was all it took to dissect the end of a five-year relationship.

It came down to this, she said: Ethan ran off with a model. A girl with black hair and pale skin and aquamarine eyes and a sizable trust fund. A girl who would have been courted by princes and lords if she lived in another time and place. A girl thin and angular as a praying mantis, who wore Kate's designs at her failure of a fashion show and claimed to be her friend.

The model spoke five languages, was a champion fencer and violin virtuoso. Kate lacked such impressive qualifications. She knew enough French to orderthree courses in a café or ask directions to the train or toilet, so long as accents and dialects weren't too strong. She could run a seven-minute mile. She thought of herself as pretty, not beautiful. Petite, not tall. She tended to be lucky at cards, though little else relating to games of chance. She loved Fellini movies and popcorn and chocolate cake. And she loved Ethan, still, after everything that had happened.

She couldn't stop thinking about him, imagined making arguments far more winning than she was capable of in real life. Real life was empty rooms. Real life was eating and cooking for one. Real life was less laundry and a cleaner apartment. (He was a pack rat and a piler—he should have come with a warning.) Real life was waking up alone. Which was all right, because she was furious about the betrayal. Furious, yes, though still in danger of succumbing to the impulse of forgiveness, as she had before. No more. She was resolute, intent on enjoying this sojourn as much as possible, keeping sorrow at bay. The road lay before her, plain and simple, offering two ways to go, forward or back, no forks or splits or detours, just wide-open fields of lumpy, foxglove-strewn green. The road made no excuses or apologies. It didn't have to. It was what it was. It went on, walls of moss-bearded stone hemming in the narrow lane, past ruined farmhouses with half-collapsed roofs and blackened eyes. She'd been walking and hitching for nearly a month, in the far western part of the country now, one of the few areas in which signs of civilization were slim to nil. She liked it that way. She'd toured Dublin in four days. Dublin, both grand and gritty: the halls of Trinity, the Book of Kells, the Georgian streets, the museums, with glass-encased mannequins and mummies with tattered clothes and bad teeth and marble eyes; heroin addicts stealing her backpack (she gave chase, recovered the bag, she could be swift and fierce when she wanted to be); housing estates and suffocating smog. There were two sides to everything. Two sides, if not more. She'd taken one bus, then another, heading for the mythical west, buses that didn't take her as far as they were supposed to, missing connections, finally breaking down entirely, the station agents saying new vehicles would arrive within the hour, then two, then three, claims that took on the air of fairy tales. In the end, she grew tired of waiting and set off on foot, eventually winding up here, exhaustion making the scene all the more surreal.

Each step she took left a mark, some visible, some not, marks that said, I was here, I exist. That was one of the reasons people went away, wasn't it, to forget, to reinvent themselves?

She'd been a quiet person at home, had let the gregarious people in her life—Ethan, her friend Ella, even her mother—take the lead, happy to be the soft-spoken sidekick who offered the occasional sage remark, witty aside.

She was on her own now. It felt strange, yes, but she was ready for something new, to be someone new.

The air smelled of grass, damp, dung, and peat smoke from a distant fire, though she saw no indications of life in the immediate vicinity, other than cows and sheep. They weren't the sheep of her dreams, white and pure and fluffed, but dingy and yellowed and matted. Maa, said the sheep. Maa, she replied, the exchange bringing her to the point of tears, because it was something Ethan might have done, when they were easier together and kindnesses and clowning were possible. Maa? as if the animals had lost their mother, as she had done, that February.

No crying, she told herself sternly. She could keep herself in hand, smile in spite of everything. It wasn't so hard, really. You can choose to be happy.

She didn't mind the rain, not usually, but this was too much. I should have picked some place drier, she thought ruefully, like Spain. But even Spain had its challenges that year, with legions of stinging jellyfish, blackouts, and a plague of voles consuming crops and gardens; she'd read about it in the paper.

Shouldn't the weather be nicer by now, so close to the first of May? She took shelter under a rhododendron, its blooms surrounding her with pinked fragrance, and nibbled on an energy bar, which tasted like sawdust in the best of circumstances, and these, assuredly, were not. She wasn't hungry—she was never hungry at the beginning or end of a love affair, this one, especially, this one that was supposed to last. Everyone had been so sure she and Ethan would get married, that she would catch the bouquet at the medieval wedding they attended that March (the couple being devoted not only to each other but to the Society for Creative Anachronism), the event at which he left her, if not at the altar, just southwest of it, next to an ice sculpture of a knight in shining armor that had begun to melt, a moat of water at his feet, his sword soon no more than a toothpick.

The Lace Makers of Glenmara
A Novel
. Copyright © by Heather Barbieri. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Lace Makers of Glenmara 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
nolagras More than 1 year ago
It's not a romance novel per se, but the good and the bad events have a way of being worked out with more ease than held my interest. I feel compelled to finish a book that I've begun, but I was very disappointed.
IYamVixenBooks More than 1 year ago
This wonderfully told story walked a thin line of sap and warm tale. Kate walks around Ireland, trying to get her cranium together, meets a nice traveling tinker who gives her a ride to a nice little village with nice ladies who make lace and teach Kate after giving her a place to stay for a little while and she teaches them to make a cottage industry with their skilled hands and lovely lace. Kate also meets a gorgeous Irish man who melts her heart, but he has a tragedy he's trying to overcome and isn't sure he wants to commit his heart again. All of this could have been overwhelmingly sappy, but for me it wasn't. I loved reading this book. There were enough bumps to roughen the smooth road of the story. There were characters I loved, some I wanted to slap. I want to go live in Glenmara and learn how to create the lace and go to the pub and listen to the music of a Friday night fest. A lovely story and I do like my lovely story breaks from time to time. This one definitely fit the gentle bill. Five sparkly Irish lace diamonds.....
5carousel More than 1 year ago
By reading just the title of the book you have no idea how involved different characters get together and how 2 or 3 generations can care for each other and be friends with everyone. Being of Irish descent, it was a fun, happy book. There were some touching parts as well as funny parts. It's definitely not a book you want to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. The regional details of Ireland created a beautiful backdrop for this story. Would recommend this to young women who enjoy a love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Knew I'd enjoy this book from page one. The author creates a story that moves along easily with interesting characters, skillfully showing sensitivity to them and their setting in Ireland. It's light reading but a very satisfying enjoyable story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I waited for this book to come out in paperback before I bought it and I am glad I did. It wasn't a bad story but it was brilliant either. It is simply a book to pass the time with. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it to read unless you have nothing else in front of you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
well told story about the power of women to help each other and learn from each other. The plot and setting are authentic and believable. The characters are varied and well developed through out the story.
PollyannaCA More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much and I really wanted to join in the Lace Makers' Circle. However, I did feel the book ended rather abruptly but I guess that could lead into another saga!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters are real; flawed, charming, strong and loveable. Story meanders along at its own pace; tragedy and heartbreak and the everyday intermingled. A truly lovely story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fledgling fashion designer from the US, nursing a broken heart, forms an unlikely alliance with a circle of Irish lacemakers. Lives are changed, even though adding lace to underwear is consider scandalous. (The only off note was the portrayal of the priest. He seemed a little wild-eyed, and then he just gave up without a fight. And nobody seemed to miss him.)
Corinne Collins More than 1 year ago
This book was a pleasure to read! I loved the fact that it was set in Ireland, a mysterious and magical place. Heather did a great job of making you really feel like you knew the characters. She also did a wonderful job making each of the characters stories so diverse, yet close to home at the same time. I look forward to her future works!
Carzan More than 1 year ago
The story was easy to read, detailing the influence that one person can make on many people. I enjoyed the story though the plot was not complicated at all it still made for an enjoyable read.
HollyC45 More than 1 year ago
I loved "The Lace Makers of Glenmara." I found this short read absolutely charming and enchanting. Barbieri's storytelling really engaged me, and within the first few chapters I felt like I was in Glenmara myself. I enjoyed reading the novel from all of the characters angles, and believe that it added a lot of flavor to the story. The so many intricate themes going on in "The Lace Makers of Glenmara" we woven so delicately together, just like lace. A bittersweet read celebrating friendship, adventure, and letting life lead us to where we belong.
Cailin on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Kate has just had a bad breakup, lost her mother and has had bad luck with her business so she goes to the motherland - Ireland. There she finds a town filled with the love, magic and support she needs. The Lace Makers of Glenmara is a quick read, a great summer book.
BookfanMary on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I've been to Ireland a couple of times and after reading The Lace Makers of Glenmara I really want to go again. I so enjoyed my time spent reading this book. Heather Barbieri wrote an engaging story about people dealing with loss and trying to go on with their lives.Kate, a young American woman of Irish descent, has travelled from Seattle to Ireland. One day she misses her bus and winds up walking. She takes a ride from a kind stranger who drops her at the road leading to Glenmara. She meets some friendly people in the village who invite her to stay and learn how to make lace. From that point on the world becomes a bit larger for the ladies who dare to try something new and Kate finds a place where people won't leave her.Kate stays with Bernie, a 50-something widow whose husband died a year earlier. Over a cup of tea one evening Kate says to Bernie "I was just thinking how funny life is. Seems like the more you want something, the more it eludes you. Then, when you least expect it, there it is." This is a theme of the story. I liked seeing both small and big changes happen in the characters' lives - changes that some didn't even know they wanted.A lovely book has found a home on my "keeper shelf" and I've added another title to my 2009 favorites list. I recommend The Lace Makers of Glenmara to fans of Women's Fiction and anyone who enjoys an enchanting novel.
txwildflower on LibraryThing 5 days ago
An interesting book about a girl named Kate Robinson who travels to Ireland after many heartaches in her life back in the states searching for independence and solitude. She discovers a small village named Glenmara on the coast and decides to stay after meeting a quiet, friendly woman who has lost her husband and welcomes her into her home. She introduces her to a group of women who make lace and there she becomes involved with their lives and eventually finds acceptance.
taramatchi on LibraryThing 5 days ago
What a charming book about embracing change. I loved it. It had quirky characters and dealt with some really interesting issues or rather challenges through the characters. Some of the challenges being domestic abuse, losing loved ones, and dealing with letting your children grow up. It interweaves this with a bit of magic that you can only find in Ireland.
coolmama on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Ummm....a "thin" novel. Not very well developed. Totally predicable. That said, a quick simple but unfullfilled read.Kate has just been dumped, her clothing line has gone bust, her mother has died recently, and she decides to take time off from life and go to Ireland. As you do!She ends up in Glenmara, a coastal Irish town (nice descriptions and totally believable) , in a clique of lace-makers all of which have their compact "story." Cue music, and handsome Irish man who, like Kate, has had some trauma in his life.Not the worst thing I have ever read. But, would not recommend.
littlebookworm on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Kate Robinson¿s life is in tatters. Her long-term boyfriend has dumped her, her fashion career is failing thanks to an incompetent advisor, and her mother has died. Determined to renew herself, Kate departs on a long trip to Ireland, where she and her mother had planned to go before the cancer took away all plans. Inadvertently, she stumbles upon Glenmara and a group of five women who have carried on the hereditary tradition of making lace while their own lives are uncertain and unhappy. Together, Kate and the lace makers of Glenmara strive to not only rediscover their own lives, but to give their fading town a fresh start on the world stage.I think the key word when it comes to this book is simply ¿not enough¿. The Lace Makers of Glenmara is meant to be inspiring and heart-warming with a simple story about the friendships between women, with one in particular as a focal point. As always, Ireland itself is enchanting, and Glenmara and its generally aging residents are a product of a society long gone. There is a mystical touch on Kate¿s journey to Glenmara with William the Traveller. Kate¿s need for a new outlook on life is completely understandable. Yet so much of this book rang false for me. It seemed incredibly unlikely that Bernie would offer to let a stranger live with her when they had only met five minutes ago, against the advice of her best friend. The romance was incredibly quick and not at all fleshed out. Kate and Sullivan basically fall into bed together and are immediately serious after that with no real development of the initial relationship, so his panic shortly afterwards just seems strange. This is especially so given that we¿re told he sleeps around quite frequently and is never serious about anyone. Kate seems different just because she reminds him of someone else, but that¿s an incredibly shaky base for a relationship. Lace making itself is undoubtedly fascinating, but again, few details are really given in the book. The events within could also have been incredibly moving, and the book tries hard to accomplish that, but we haven¿t spent enough time with the characters to feel grief on their behalf.At its core, the story is still a good one. I love how the lace could renew a community by giving it new strength and new visitors. Its effect on the women¿s lives is itself slightly magical, which adds to the overall mystical feel of the book. It isn¿t that I disliked the book, it is just that I put it down wishing for more story, more detail, more characters, more everything. The Lace Makers of Glenmara is well conceived but poorly executed.
Book-WomanRS More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. The love stories were just amazing.
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