Cover Image: The Thread Collectors

The Thread Collectors

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Member Reviews

While The Thread Collectors was an interesting novel, focusing on several different persons during the Civil War, it was slow moving and I found it difficult to remain engaged with, as it moved between the narratives.
Stella a Creole woman and , the unwilling mistress of a white man in New Orleans stitches maps to aid her neighbors in escaping the south with information she gleans from the man she is tied to.
Meanwhile the man Stella loves is serving in the Union Army, as a ditch digger and sometime musician, though he is exceptionally talented, alongside Jacob, a Jewish man and abolitionist.
Jacob's wife, Lily is in NYC doing her best to ensure that her husband and other Union soldiers have the support they need to succeed in the war.

There are several plot lines moving through this story and it might have been a little better to keep the focus more closely on one couple.
Overall, interesting though.

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Edwards and Richman perfectly blended their talents to bring us this own voice historical fiction novel set during the Civil War in New Orleans. This well researched story is about a Jewish family and a family of black slaves whose husbands both leave to fight in the Union army while their wives are left to find their own ways to aide the soldiers.

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review which is not affiliated with any brand.

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A well told story about two very different women who are from different worlds but find themselves fighting for the same thing when their worlds converge.

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Underlying The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J Edwards and Alyson Richman is the tapestry of the Civil War. What makes this story unique among others of the same time period is the combination of perspectives - Black and Jewish. It is sad to see how many of the conversation about prejudice and bigotry still exist. At the same time, the book is inspiring in its story about how individuals can make a difference, one action at a time.

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Reviewed for NetGalley.

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Two women. One a Jewish White Northerner and a Black Slave endure the Civil War. Stella is an enslaved "kept" woman. She has her own house and treated well- her only role is to submit to her "Masa". While in New York, Lily is a abolitionist, who attends suffragette meetings while making quilts and bandages for the troops. Her husband has joined the Union Army.
Stella has a secret. She takes threads from old or donated garments are creates maps to help escaped slaves. Her lover William is the first. Instead of running to any safety, he eoo enlists.
Stella, her family and friends lives begin to become entwined unto Lily's privileged world. Their husbands both are musicians in the same military company. All four acts out thoughts and actions throughout the book showing perseverance, love and hope.

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This book is just a nice, well written story. It feels authentic and explores two cultures during the revolutionary war. I feel the authors did an exceptional job capturing the realities of two families who would have been realistic companions in the war and were able to teach each other about their cultures and the realities of the south. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and to those that may not have quite found a book in the genre that they like. The story is rich with detail and emotion. I really liked it.

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If you enjoy historical fiction, go grab The Thread Collectors. I learned so much through this beautiful and heartbreaking book. Blurb below.

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A collaboration between two longtime friends has resulted in a unique historical novel about two couples – one Black and one Jewish – whose stories come together during the chaos and destruction of the U.S. Civil War.

The feminine cover is somewhat misleading, since The Thread Collectors gives equal time to the male perspective. In 1863, Private Jacob Kling, a Jewish cornet player in the Union army stationed at Camp Parapet in Jefferson, Louisiana, is ordered to help with the intake of Black recruits for the Louisiana Native Guards. It’s in this role that he first meets William, a gifted flutist who took considerable risks fleeing enslavement to join the Union forces. Their fellow soldiers disparage interracial mingling, but the two form a bond over their passion for music.

Both men have left behind the women they love for the cause. Jacob’s wife, the former Lily Kahn, is the daughter of a German Jewish immigrant who made his fortune selling sheet music. From her Fifth Avenue apartment, Lily writes tender letters to Jacob expressing her pride in his service and recounting her work supporting abolition and the war effort. William’s beloved is Stella, a mixed-race free woman forced to become the mistress of a white Confederate officer – the same man who bought William and brought him to Louisiana from his home on Georgia’s Sapelo Island as a child.

With four viewpoints and many flashbacks to the recent past, the novel is a detailed collage of Civil War experiences, ranging from the domestic arena to battlefield courage and carnage. All are stitched together tightly into a coherent narrative, although since Lily’s viewpoint is shown through letters initially, it feels a touch unbalanced. A young woman of conviction, Lily finds a strong role model in suffragist Ernestine Rose, among others, though her stated admiration for Isabella of Castile feels odd, given her religion.

In addition to portraying the characters’ survival skills relative to gender and race, the novel exposes the racial prejudice they endure, some of which may be surprising – like General Grant’s anti-Semitic views and the slurs against Jews that pervade the army camps, as well as the Union army’s cruelly unequal treatment of the Black soldiers in its ranks.

Without losing sight of the big picture, the story emphasizes the varied means of communication that draw the characters together. These include Jacob and William’s shared love of music; Lily’s mailing of letters and new tunes, which boosts morale at the camp; Jacob saying Kaddish (the Jewish mourner’s prayer) for the souls of Black men; and, most of all, Stella’s dexterity in stitching maps with colored threads, unpicking stitches from other fabrics to create visual guides pointing the way to freedom.

Civil War-era novels are common, but this isn’t a story that’s been told before. In all, this book speaks to the courage to trust and how the ties of friendship can make people stronger.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to read this book through by the publishing date. Thank you for the opportunity regardless!

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The Thread Collectors is an amazing testimony to what we’ll do for love and freedom.

The story unfolds from the perspectives of Stella, a Black slave whose love, William, has escaped from slavery, and Lily, a Jewish woman from New York whose husband, Jacob, has enlisted for the Union.

Stella was a slave, purchased by a white man as his mistress, to be used for his pleasure. She had very little to call her own. Lily was the daughter of a wealthy businessman in New York, with all the advantages the world had to offer. They seem as different as two people could possibly be. But Lily felt very strongly that slavery had to end, and she became involved with the abolitionist movement. These women’s lives and their fights for freedom intersected when the men who were important to them met up at a Union encampment in Louisiana.

Thread ties the lives of Stella and Lily together. Stella sewed a map to the Union camp for William before he left, using what cloth and thread she could come up with, both so that he’d have a guide as he fled his bondage and so that he’d have a piece of her to carry with him. She then continued to stitch maps for other slaves to find their way to freedom as well. Lily helped the war effort by rolling bandages and stitching quilts for the soldiers, with her first quilt made especially for Jacob, a tangible representation of her love for him.

Likewise, music is a unifying force for William and Jacob. William is a good musician, and that earned him a little bit better treatment than many slaves received. His master always wanted him to perform. Jacob is also musically inclined, and when he realizes William’s talent, he does his best to ensure that William has a chance to put his skills to use in the military.

This book is simply amazing. The research the authors put into it is apparent, and the events they convey are often heartbreaking. It’s loosely based on their own family histories, and quite a compelling tale. And this book really stands out because its viewpoint is different. I’ve read a fair bit of historical fiction, and I can’t say that I recall reading another story told from Black and Jewish viewpoints. That made this a story that really caught my attention and didn’t let go.

If you want a story that’s well researched, well written, and emotionally gripping, set in the latter days of the Civil War, you’ll love The Thread Collectors.

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Incredible read but a bit more graphic than the books I have taught. Written in dual perspectives a nice book for a class or library bookshelf but not one I’ll adapt as part of my curriculum.

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Incredible detailed historical fiction about women's roles during the Civil War in both the North and the South. The wonderful details and points of view made this book suspenseful. I enjoyed how the writers had collaborated to express the POV from diverse perspectives. The historical fiction and the horror of enslavement were captured to the point of making you shudder in the descriptions of cruelty. The lives of Jewish people during the Civil War was also interwoven into the stories and I found it fascinating. I loved how the music was a bond for all humans and how they repeatedly used music to relate their feelings and perspectives. Powerful story and fascinating for women's history.

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Excellent historical.

About two men who are as different as humanly possible. One a black slave the other a Jew. Who would believe these two would become the best of friends. Yet it happened. Though they were from totally different social backgrounds they had one thing in common. The love of music. Their friendship is so wonderful to read about.

This book was sad but so very interesting. Set during the Civil War when Black people were basically fighting for their freedom. This friendship gives hope and makes the things they endure a bit easier maybe. It was hard reading about some of the things that happened during this time. The differences between the two families and the wives are so strong. While Lily wrote letters of love and hope to her husband Stella could not. She was not suppose to know how to read and write. How horrible that is. How very sad. From Louisiana to New York this book holds your interest.

Be warned though... It's a touch subject to read. It will break your heart unless you are truly heartless. Some of the things that happened were so horrible. I will read more of this setting. It needs to be out there. It needs to be remembered not hidden. Not covered up.

Thank you #NetGalley, #ShaunnaJEdwards/AlysonRichman, #HarlequinTradePublishing for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts and I could not put into words exactly how it made me feel.

5 stars and a high recommendation.

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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This is a very interesting and personal view of the Civil War. We meet two families - black slaves in Louisiana and white Jews in New York City. Both men eventually connect as musicians in the Union Army. Because of their races, their lives and Army experiences are very different, but they become close friends.

The women, of course, were very different, as well. Lily wrote love letters to her husband and included sheet music for him to play. As a slave, Stella cannot send letters to William. While she is able to read and write, she must keep that a secret or she will be severely punished. William has never learned either skill. But Stella can embroider maps to help others escape! Lily and her friends wrap bandages and sew quilts for the soldiers.

Through this book, we see a lot of the horrors of slavery and the destruction of the South in the Civil War. Unfortunately, the beginning was slower than I would like and it took quite a while to get into the action of the story.

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Two viewpoints of the Civil War from women whose men meet and become unlikely friends. Each woman uses embroidery or quilting as a way to support and cheer the soldiers.

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Having recently finished “The Thread Collectors” by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman, I am happy to have had the chance for the Advanced Reader’s Edition e-copy; thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House.

This novel, set during the Civil War, was page after page of African American culture, antebellum history as well as the gruesome depiction of battles and tragedies of war.

The musical portions of this story were unexpected. Looking at the beautiful cover art, I was anticipating the sewing moments and also the abolitionist movement to be the main focus of the story. Instead those were alternated with the fife and drum pages in this story. “The Thread Collectors” vividly portrayed the horrors, devastation and inequalities that were a part of the war between our states. Though the needle and thread moments were fascinating, knowing that 2.75 million soldiers fought, and over 618,000 never made it home, will stay with me as we remember and honor their sacrifice on Veteran’s Day.

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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I highly recommend this! It explores people in an era of history where they're not normally the center of attention, at least in the way that they're done in this book.

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Thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin Trade for the opportunity to read The Thread Collectors.


Beautiful and emotional story with historical detail i found to be very interersting.

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Thank you to Net Galley and Harlequin Trade for the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own.
I was really excited to read this book, but it just didn't catch my interest. I like stories set in this historical period, but this story was very hard for me to follow. It seems to have good reviews and I have heard good things about it so maybe it was just me. It was an OK story, but not my favorite.

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The Thread Collectors is a slow moving, poignant, emotional story that takes place during the Civil War.

The synopsis leads us to believe this story belongs to two women, but in reality we have four central characters: a Black female slave and the man she loves, and a female Jewish abolitionist and her husband. The two men go off to fight in the war, while the women are forced to fight their own battles at home.

I loved the unique viewpoints. Setting and atmosphere came alive, placing me back in time, and the realism made me feel it all.

The one drawback for me personally was the amount of backstory on the various characters. These passages took me out of the present story, and the information tended to get tangled up in my head. While interesting, I didn’t think it was all necessary.

The author’s note at the end gives fascinating insight into this story and how it came to be, so make sure you read it!

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