The Lace Makers of Glenmara - By Heather Barbieri

The Lace Makers of Glenmara

A Novel

Heather Barbieri

For my family

Life itself is a thread that is never broken, never lost.

—Jacques Roumain



Learning to Sew

Chapter 1

That Irish Rain

Chapter 2

William the Traveler

Chapter 3

A Village at the End of the World

Chapter 4

The American Girl

Chapter 5

Absences and Visitations

Chapter 6

Cliff Walk

Chapter 7

Holy Orders

Chapter 8

A Cup of Tea & Jealousy

Chapter 9

Dirty Laundry & Contraception

Chapter 10

The Lace Society

Chapter 11

Kate’s Idea

Chapter 12

Father Byrne on Patrol

Chapter 13

Imaginary Breasts

Chapter 14

Sullivan Deane

Chapter 15

Held So Close

Chapter 16


Chapter 17

Singing to the Sea

Chapter 18

Hail the Long-Lost Mariner

Chapter 19

All Ye Sinners Bow Your Heads and Pray

Chapter 20

Another Life

Chapter 21

Of Bobbins and Pins

Chapter 22

A Hundred Little Bruises

Chapter 23

Wear It Well

Chapter 24

Famine Ghosts

Chapter 25

Lost and Found

Chapter 26

The Things That Shape Us

Chapter 27

A Turn in the Road

Chapter 28

A Soul of the Sea

Chapter 29

A Word, Please

Chapter 30

On the Mend

Chapter 31

Market Day

Chapter 32

Fame & Fortune

Chapter 33

Finishing Work


About the Author

Other Books by Heather Barbieri


About the Publisher

Learning to Sew

What you need:

A sewing machine, your mother’s, yes, the sky blue Singer, its hum a lullaby from infancy, you in a Moses basket at her feet, grabbing bright threads

Notions (tools and thoughts in equal measure), such as

Scissors, three to six inches long, sharp pointed, pinking shears, thread clips, buttonholers, seam rippers—there will be edges to neaten, material to cut

Tissue (dressmaker’s and Kleenex)

Tailor’s chalk and tracing wheel, for dots, dashes, cutaway marks, arcs, outlines, traces, what has been and what will be

Pins, for forming attachments

Needles—sharps, betweens, milliner’s, darners, tapestry, embroidery, beading, for all that must be pierced and adorned and joined together

Pin cushion, apple-shaped, with a felt stem, to keep pins from getting lost

Thimble, your mother’s, gold, on a chain, a tiny loop soldered to the top; wear it on your index finger so you won’t prick yourself, or around your neck, to remember

Measuring tape, for determining shape and size, yards, inches, centimeters, the distance from here to there

Thread—mercerized, nylon silk, textured, floss

Fabric, swatches and yards and bolts, wool, silk, linen, net, whatever will come next, whatever will be made

The pattern?

Will it come from a drawer at the fabric store—McCall’s, Butterick, Simplicity, names from your childhood, the instructions in an envelope, the outcome preordained? Or will you make it up as you go, letting the spirit guide you, trying to pick up the loose threads, fix the holes, make something new? Each step, each diagram, fig. 1, fig. 2, fig. 3, revealing itself in time?

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.

This is a place to start.

Chapter 1

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 order three courses in a