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Stitches in Time

Stitches in Time

4.1 21
by Barbara Michaels

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When an antique bridal quilt appears under mysterious circumstances at the vintage clothing shop where Rachel Grant works, she is fascinated. She has never been able to resist handmade textiles from the past, for she believes that through the ages, women wove protective magic into their fabrics in order to mark the important events of their lives: birth, marriage, and


When an antique bridal quilt appears under mysterious circumstances at the vintage clothing shop where Rachel Grant works, she is fascinated. She has never been able to resist handmade textiles from the past, for she believes that through the ages, women wove protective magic into their fabrics in order to mark the important events of their lives: birth, marriage, and death.

But there is more than good in the quilt's magic power. Day by day Rachel sees and feels the power growing, as she senses the quilt influencing her thoughts and actions. Much as Rachel's logical mind longs to deny the supernatural, the aura of evil coming from the quilt is terrifyingly real, and it seems to carry a sinister legacy into the lives of the people Rachel loves.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Barbara Rosenblat's skills as a reader could make the dictionary a best seller. A well-known narrator of unabridged audiobooks, she doesn't skimp on her talent in the abridged arena either. In this instance, however, her verbal dexterity is undermined by a sketchy abridgment. The story itself is fascinating: Rachel Grant finds her personality overshadowed by a woman long since dead but not yet avenged. The key is an antique album quilt, which comes into Rachel's hands when it arrives at the vintage clothing shop where she works. Events escalate when Rachel's actions turn sinister. Unfortunately, too many gaps are present in the plot, as key scenes begin from nowhere and subplots suddenly reappear to tie up loose ends. Rosenblat's considerable narrative skills compensate somewhat but not entirely. The popularity of both the author and the reader makes this a must purchase despite its inconsistencies.Jodi L. Israel, Westwood, Mass.
Denise Perry Donavin
Returning to the people and the place made popular in her best-sellers, "Shattered Silk" (1988) and "Ammie, Come Home" (1979), Michaels weaves an incredible mystery based on a haunted quilt. Rachel Grant is a doctoral student working on her thesis--an investigation of women's garments designed for important rites of passage--when she takes a part-time job at a chic vintage clothing shop run by two women, Kara and her sister-in-law Cheryl. When Cheryl's police officer husband is shot, Rachel is drawn into the family because she moves into Cheryl's home, which is connected to the shop. Meanwhile, the message from the quilt lures Rachel into dangerous misdeeds. The unraveling of the mystery proves fascinating, and any stitcher or mystery lover will fall under this novel's spell.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.41(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

She cursed the needle, the cloth and the thread, fixing each stitch in place with a word of power. The murmured litany sounded so harmless, like a cat's purr or a low humming, but the other woman shivered and hunched her shoulders, like someone pelted by wind-driven sleet.

It had been a long time since she'd heard words like those, but she knew what they meant, and the hands that Melded her own needle felt stiff and clumsy. She had tried to remonstrate, to warn. Might as well talk to a stone, she thought, or one of the white marble statues the old man had put up all around the garden. Heathen images they were, statues of old gods and goddesses. Naked, too, some of them. It was against Scripture: You shall make unto yourself no heathen images. She'd read it herself in the Book, spelling out the words with slow, painful care. It was a prideful thing being able to read, and harder than anything she had ever undertaken, without help or encouragement, but she had wanted to read His words for herself. This was worse than heathen images, though. This was inviting the devil into your heart and feeding him on your hate. He was there in the room with them; she could feel him. Two women, sewing by the fire, and that Presence, not hot like the Bad Place was supposed to be, but icy-cold.

"You're stitching your soul into it." The words burst out of her. "There's always a price to pay. You think it's her you'll hurt, but it'll conic back on you."

Like talking to a stone. The soft murmur continued unbroken. The needle gliding in and out reflected the firelight like a splinter of living flame.

"I can't stand it any longer."

Rachelhad never heard her speak in that tone before: flat, dead, uninflected. Cheryl didn't believe in repressing her emotions. When she was angry she could swear like a marine sergeant, at the top of her lungs and at considerable length; when she laughed her whole body shook and dimples dented her rounded checks. Now she sounded like a tired old woman, forty years older than her real age — mid-thirties, Rachel assumed. The red-gold curls framed her gray face like an unsuitable wig.

Rachel glanced into the room they had just left-the hospital room where Cheryl's husband lay. He had roused long enough to acknowledge her presence and mutter a few words of reassurance, but now he was sleeping, stuffed full of painkillers.

"He's going to be fine. The doctor said he expects a full recovery."

"This time." Cheryl sagged, bracing herself against the wall. "He's been a cop for almost twenty years, sooner or later his luck was bound to run out. He could find another job, one that would pay better and wouldn't involve so much pressure. There was no need for him to answer this call. He wasn't even on duty, and it wasn't an emergency — a domestic argument, they happen all the time. But he won't quit and he won't stay safe. They've all got guns these days, and next time it may not be his leg. Next time..."

They were only acquaintances, not on hugging terms, but Rachel put an impulsive arm around the other woman. "Come on, Cheryl. I'll drive you home."

"Not yet. I told Kara I'd meet her here. Anyhow, I don't want the kids to see me like this." She straightened, took a deep breath, and produced a smile. "I'll wait in the cafeteria till Kara gets here and bum a ride home from her. Or walk-it's not far. You probably have things to do, you go on."

Rachel's eyes moved back to the open doorway. She couldn't see his face; it was hidden by the white mountain of sheets and cast. She didn't have to see it. Fifty years from now she would be able to close her eyes and remember how he had looked, gray-white skin drawn tight over the fine bones, dark eyes sunken and opaque. Drawn with shock and pain though it had been, his face was the kind that would stop any woman's breath, and the nurse's hands had lingered as she tucked the blankets around him.

"Lucky," the doctor had said. Lucky the guy who had been beating up on his wife had grabbed the .22 instead of the shotgun. A shotgun shell at close range would have shattered his kneecap as well as the bones of his thigh.

"Poor Rachel." Cheryl patted her shoulder — consoling her now. "This was a hell of a thing to dump on one of my best customers. I wouldn't blame you if you never came back."

It was stretching the truth to call Rachel a customer, much less one of the best. Most of the merchandise Cheryl sold was far beyond Rachel's means-antique linens and vintage clothing of such extraordinary quality that her customers came from all over the country. The shop occupied the lower floor of the rambling old house in which the Cardozas lived, in the small Virginia city of Leesburg. Though not far distant from Washington, it was hard to reach except by car. The drive was a long one even for Rachel, who lived on the Maryland side of the capital, but she made the trip frequently because for her the shop was as good as a museum-better, in some ways, because she was allowed to examine the objects closely, to linger and touch....

What People are Saying About This

Mary Higgins Clark
A master storyteller.
Phyllis A. Whitney
No one can match Barbara Michaels!

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters (writing as Barbara Michaels) was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Peters was named Grandmaster at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986, Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar® Awards in 1998, and given The Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic in 2003. She lives in an historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

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Stitches in Time 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From Ammie, Come Home to Shattered Silk to Stitches in Time: these books represent the masterworks of the paranormal mysteries & the refined delights of humor blended with the best "women's studies". Years ago I read the lead in Ammie Come Home with its gentle yet terrifying exploration of ghost stories & quiet introdction to the concept of cultural anthropology. It would be literally decades before I stumbled across Shattered Silk a return to a shivery tradition that was NOT the paranormal book I expected. And therein is the delight I find in Ms Michaels' works.. I NEVER know from book to book whether I'm holding a traditional mystery or a paranormal delight. Each book must be explored & relished for itself even when it stands in a series of three. I cannot speak highly enough in praise of her work. She has introduced me to arts & sciences I never imagined exploring, all while delighting me with a tapestry of tales filled with humor, suspence and the best of all realities of wonder. She is never formulaic, you will never know whether the book in your hand is a mystery, a gothic romance or a horror novel.. she is mistress of all three. For me this particular trilogy is the best of the best, be welcome, be entertained and most of all be prepared to think outside the box.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I used to have a paperback copy of this book, and I read it over and over again until the book fell apart! I highly recommend this book because even though it keeps you on the edge of your seat,the characters make you laugh and feel more at home at the same time. This is a book I would cozy up by a fireplace with.
Julie Dorsey More than 1 year ago
a really goood book. i enjoyed it very much.it has a tie in with the earlier book ammie come home.which is also a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love old quilts and history, you'll love this. I recommend a lot of Barbara Michaels books...this one of my all time favorites.
rosalyn4077 More than 1 year ago
I was a little worried at first when getting this book. I was thinking what kind of gothic thriller could a quilt possibly give.....well....I was wrong! It's an awesome book from start to finish. Got to learn a little bit about quilts too.
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MissCozy More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very interesting. I enjoyed the lesson on vintage cloths and I enjoyed even more the lesson on sewing and stitching in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the dumbest yet, and made absolutely no sense at all. I kept reading the book to see if it ever got any better, and it never did! The plot was weak, and didn't draw my attention at all.This book is definitely not worth the money!