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The Thread Collectors

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Member Reviews

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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Read if you like: multiple perspectives.
This book follows four perspectives during the American Civil War. Stella is a young Black woman who sews maps for slaves to escape the south. She is a skilled seamstress and is in love with William, the second perspective who escapes to join the Union army. Then there is Jacob, a Jewish musician in the Union army, and Lily, an abolitionist in New York who travels south when her husband goes missing.
With the four perspectives, the plot was fast paced with lots of action. I appreciated that this book included a Jewish perspective during the Civil War, which is not something I have read a lot on. The ending felt a bit like White Saviour Complex, and I don't want to get too into it due to spoilers, but I could be wrong.
CW: slavery, violence, torture, mutilation, sexual abuse, harassment, rape, pregnancy, childbirth, war, death, and murder.

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I received this an ARC through Netgalley. I was so excited by the description and had such high hopes. Families separated by the Civil War of being on both sides of the slavery issue. There was a lot a jumping around from one group of characters to another and then back. Made it extremely difficult to keep the stories straight and who belongs to who. Also, for me made it hard to connect with any of the characters in the book.

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I kept seeing good reviews about this one so I couldn’t wait to read it.
Personally I thought this one was just ok and I did struggle on reading but I think I am just burnt out from reading so much.
I am giving this one a 3.

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This was a beautifully written masterpiece. The characters were written with a depth that is not always found in novels these days. Often characters have one mindset the entire book which makes them rather flat and difficult to find an attachment to. The Civil War is a time period that is one of my favorites to have novels based around. Stella and her love for the soldier, how they must keep it hidden was very well written. The overall story is too wonderful to get into without writing any spoilers, but I can say that I will look forward to reading this author's books in the future.

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The Thread Collectors drew me on a couple of levels. First, as a seamstress, I just had to at least read the blurb for a book titled The Thread Collectors. Then, to find out it's historical fiction set during the Civil War was all I needed to know I had to read this one. I was so caught up in the lives of these characters and how they intertwine. The story is, of course, emotional, and the authors have crafted the kind of characters who get under your skin. The type I won't soon forget. The book is very well-researched and beautifully written. It's my first experience with either of these authors, but it won't be my last.

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From my blog: Always With a Book

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. And the fact that it was written by two authors and that they drew inspiration from their own family histories just made me more excited about the book. I was thrilled when we decided to pick this book as one of our #bookfriendsbookclub picks this month and that the authors were able to join us on a zoom chat – having the chance to listen to the authors talk more in depth about the book really added to our discussion. And then I even got to go see the authors in person at my local independent bookstore which was just fantastic.

There aren’t a ton of historical fiction books set during the Civil War era, so that immediately drew me to this book. But even more so is the fact that we see the story told from such unique points of view. It follows two soldiers who meet up on the battlefield – one an escaped Black slave and one a White Jewish man – and they form a friendship. It is through this friendship that brings their beloveds into the fray – a Black enslaved woman trying to make the most of her situation and a White Jewish woman doing all she can to support the troops.

This story is not always an easy one to read – it brings the darkness of this time right to the front without belaboring it. But at the same time, the story is balanced with these deep friendships and stories of love that are woven into the story. We see the lengths one will go to protect those they love, how a shared interest can forge a bond that looks deeper than color. We see these characters continually putting themselves at risk in order to do what they think is right. I loved how the authors explored the war from the perspective of outsiders – it makes for such a fascinating and memorable story.

This book is highly emotional and raw. It doesn’t shy away from the truth and I appreciated that the authors stayed true to the historical details that they came across. This is the reason why I love reading historical fiction – I love learning and feel that I learned so much from reading this one. And be sure to read the authors note – it is not to be missed!

I loved this book, as tough a read as it was in certain parts. I will be recommending it to everyone I know that loves historical fiction and I cannot wait to see what this phenomenal writing duo pens next!

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This was one of those books that I was really looking forward to reading. I love history and the Civil War is such an intresting period in history. But this book was just to hard for me to get into and that is saying a lot, because I stuided history in college. But I read about 50 pages and I had no idea what was going on. It was so hard for me to keep up that I just had to stop reading. I don't know what it was about this book. But I just could not bring myself to finish it. I think the writing was just a little all over the place for me.

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The Thread Collectors is a story set during the Civil War featuring two groups of people who were hated, and scape goated during the civil war, the African American and the Jewish people. The story centres around Stella, a slave who is the kept woman of her rich, but slimy master and Lily, an abolitionist and wife of a Jewish soldier. William met Stella when his owner brought him to play for her. He was an accomplished fife player who was used by Master Frye, his owner to gain favour. He and Stella fall in love and begin a relationship. He eventually escapes and heads to Camp Parapet to join the Union army, using a map that Stella has embroidered to help him evade the Confederate troops and slave catchers. He joins an all black regiment, where he meets a ten year old drummer, he takes under his wing. They begin playing music together for the men and he is overheard by Jacob. Jacob is Lily's husband and he is also a musician. He invites William to come over to entertain the white troops and he becomes a favourite. Meanwhile something happens to William and Jacob and Lily heads south to find out what has happened to her husband, after not hearing from her for several weeks.

I really liked this story. The characters are all such strong people, smart, loyal, and caring. Lily and Jacob take the opposite side to the slave issue from Jacob's brother's family, but know it is the right thing to do. Lily is beautiful, and there gives her information she can use to help others. Frye talks to her about things that he assumes she doesn't understand, but she listens and uses the information to help slaves escape. The title, "The Thread Collectors" comes from her embroidering maps. She has to salvage coloured thread from pieces of clothing, scarves, purses etc. to do her work. The stories of the four main characters are all interesting and I learned something from each of them. I have not read a lot of stories set during the Civil War, so I was excited to read this book. All four of the stories come together in an excellent conclusion that had me closing the book with satisfaction. The story is a well-written, and developed story with wonderful characters. Themes of love, devotion, heartache, slavery, racism, benefits of music, families divided and family loyalty are all touched upon. I enjoyed the addition of the embroidered maps, especially as I also enjoy sewing, embroidery and knitting. Make sure you read the author's note at the end, where authors Shaunna J Edwards and Alyson Richman share their inspiration for this book. They say it was loosely based on their family backgrounds. I definitely recommend this story to those who enjoy historical fiction. This will be one of my favourites this year.

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stamperlady50's profile picture
The Thread Collectors
By: Shaunna J. Edwards & Alyson Richman

A powerful historical fiction set in the Civil War.

1863 an indigenous black woman named Stella love son New Orleans. She embroiders maps in fabric which holds a secret map. These maps help enslaved men to escape and join the Union Army.

Stella’s is in love with a musician and Black soldier but must hide her love and activities from the man she Is bound to.

Lily in NYC is making her husband a quilt who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. She is also rolling bandages and sewing quilts for others. After months of not hearing a word from her husband she decides to head south to find her husband.

The women share of love of sewing and quilting during this painful time in history and it was fascinating to find out about the maps.

As a quilter and sewer I really enjoyed hearing about these women. I am sure if I would have done the same thing. A unique Historical Fiction.

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Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free copy of The Thread Collectors in exchange for an honest review.

This excellent historical novel co-authored by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman tells the compelling story of two couples and their families - one Black and one White and Jewish - impacted by the Civil War. Stella is a biracial woman who although pressed into sexual slavery to a White Confederate officer in Louisiana, loves Black enslaved musician William. She’s also a talented and creative embroidery artist, and learns to use her talents to help others. The book opens with William getting ready to run away to offer his services as a Union soldier. White Jewish soldier and musician Jacob is from New York, as is his young wife Lily. While Lily works to support the wounded Union troops and campaigns for women’s suffrage, Jacob works as a musician embedded in a Union regiment fighting in Louisiana, where he meets William.

In this expertly told and beautifully written novel, we learn about the lives of Stella, William, Jacob and Lily and their families - along with the horrors of slavery and war but also the courage and humanity of people trying to survive as best they can. Based in part on the actual family history of the two authors, “The Thread Collectors” will stay with you long after the final page. Highly recommend. Five stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I want to start off by saying that I received a complimentary. In return for my honest thoughts and review. I want to say that I know that my review is late. But I wanted to take my time reading this book. These two authors are both new to me. This has to be a very different historical fiction that I have read before. I do plan on adding both these authors book to my tbr. I love these strong female characters.This book is set during the Civil War. While reading knowing these things are apart of history. These things happened to these women and men.
Learning that Black soldiers during War to dig graves for the dead. How they tried to survive doing War. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to netgalley and to the authors allowing me the opportunity to read such amazing book. My review is posted on Amazon and goodreads and bookbub.

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I struggled to get into this book, but after about 20%, I was drawn in by the story. There are some abrupt scene changes, but that issue resolved itself as the book went on.

I appreciated the meticulously researched content and learned some things that I didn't know, such as the massacre of colored soldiers at Port Hudson.

Finally, the title just doesn't fit the book. There is a loose connection because Stella gathers threads, but she's the only character to do so. I think a title about the maps she embroidered would be more fitting, as they impact several characters.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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I seem to read a lot of books about WWII. When I first started this book, I thought it was going to be the same. But it went further back to the Civil War. An interesting change of pace. The book is told from two completely different perspectives. One is a white woman that lives in Brooklyn, N. Y. with her husband Jacob. They are Jewish. The other perspective is a black woman who lives as a slave on a plantation owned by her owner. She is one of her owners “mistresses “. But she is in love with a slave named William. The story is as much about the two men as it is about the women they love. Jacob and William are both musicians. It is a good book about a terrible time in our history. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy for my honest review.

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'm glad to see so many good reviews for this well written novel set during the Civil War. It traces the lives of two Union soldiers, one an escaped slave and the other a northern Jew. While the historical setting was interesting, the characters and story fell short for me. The characters felt two-dimensional, and beyond the friendship story, the plot didn't really interest me very much. I skimmed the last third of the book just to finish.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Historical fiction about women is always the best to me! Often you read stories about how brave, crafty, and strong male characters are, so it is always so refreshing when it’s a tale about woman's experiences. I tend to shy away from the African American slavery books. As a black woman, it’s hard to read about those experiences. This book handled that topic and this era of time so well. I loved the friendships between Stella and Lily and William and Jacob. I felt for each character in the book. Jewish or Black, I really enjoyed the parallels between them. Musicians, mothers, soldiers, whatever the differences, the shared experience was still the same regardless of color or class.
There were times in the book that I wished I knew that a chapter was going to reflect on the past, maybe with a chapter description or something to allude that now we’re reflecting on something from the past.
The writing was nuanced and flowed well; I found this book very enjoyable. I will look for future books by these authors, and I am happy to have received a free copy to enjoy.

I just reviewed The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards; Alyson Richman. #TheThreadCollectors #NetGalley

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This book came across my email in a bulk email for review requests. I was excited to read it because Historical Fiction is my jam but Civil War Historical Fiction is even more in my wheelhouse. I love it more than I love WW2. I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Honestly, before I go any further with the review. I have to say that I couldn’t even get past 10% in this book. I was so upset and desperate to like this book. I see there are rave reviews about it. I just couldn’t get past it. I honestly don’t know what it was about this book. I don’t know if I am in a reading slump and just can’t get into books or if it was the book itself. Stella is a creole woman who is sold. William is a black man running away to the Union Army. Stella sews William a map and they are in love with each other. That is as far as I got.

Honestly, the writing seemed heavy and took me far too long to get just 10% in the book. There was just something about it. Try and read the book for yourself before you take what I say and run with it. I will certainly be trying to read this book again and who knows maybe at that time I will give it rave review with 5-stars.

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Four and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒
The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards; Alyson Richman is a historical novel set in the American Civil War time period and follows two very different couples and how they managed during the war.

Stella is the slave mistress of a rich plantation owner in New Orleans, as the daughter of a slave and a white man, she’s able to live on her own in a small shack amongst other slave mistresses. But, her true love is a Will, also a slave, with the same awful master. When Will runs away to join the Union Army, Stella knows she has to do everything she can to help other slaves run away too. Stella embroiders maps on bits of cloth to help her neighbors find the Union army camp and escape a life of bondage.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Lily is doing everything she can for the war effort and is waiting for her husband, Jacob, to come home from the war. Jacob is a private in the union army, and also a gifted musician. Jacob and Will strike up an unlikely friendship as two musicians who bring music and joy to the troops. But, when Jacob doesn’t write home for weeks, Lily knows she has to go and find him.

I loved this book as it looks at four very different perspectives of the war. Instead of looking at the north/south perspectives, it looks at the perspective of a fairly wealthy Jewish couple from New York, and a black couple trying to free themselves from slavery in New Orleans. Both couples are on the side of the Union but come from very different backgrounds. Stella, Will, Lily, and Jacob are strong, courageous, and very compelling characters.

The book also revealed some of the ravages of war, both from the north perspective and the south's. It also reveals some of the horrific conditions of slavery and especially the different ways slave owners treated the girls and women they owned.

The Thread Collectors is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I am a long time fan of Alyson Richman and a brand new fan of Shaunna J. Edwards and their collaborated endeavor to write The Thread Collectors. This well written and impeccably researched historical novel was written about The Civil War. I hadn’t read a novel centered around The Civil War in a very long time so it was a welcomed change of setting. It was not the typical Civil War novel either. The focus for The Thread Collectors was on the women in this book..

One of the women, Stella, was in love with a Black slave, William. When Stella came of age her mother and sister sent her to the Market to meet her fate. William’s master took a fancy toward Stella and bought her for himself. Stella was a light skin beauty. William’s master purchased a small home for her to live in. Stella lived in the small typical Creole cottage in New Orleans with her sister. She had been bought by William’s master and kept in the cottage so she could satisfy his pleasures whenever he desired them. William, who was determined to escape from his bondage and join the Union Army had an innate musical talent. He played the flute like no one else. He had played his flute the night Stella was sent to the Market. The two had fallen in love and secretly met whenever they could without William’s master’s knowledge. Stella learned from the ramblings of William’s master when he had a little too much to drink the safest routes to take to ensure the safety of the escaping slaves. Stella began making maps for the escaping slaves on old repurposed cloth. She used her expertise in embroidery to stitch the maps in different colored threads for the escaping slaves. The night William ran to begin his escape, Stella worried for his safety but William arrived safely at the Union’s regiment due to Stella’s map. It brought him there safely. His musical talent would secure his placement and acceptance into the Union army.

The second woman, Lily, lived in New York City. She was a huge supporter of abolitionist’s rights. Lily was a White Jewish woman who had lost her mother when she was quite young. She had been raised by her loving father. Her father owned a music store and supported Lily’s involvement with the abolitionist movement. He even allowed his printing press to be used to print the material the abolitionist members wanted distributed. Lily had met Jacob, her husband, in her father’s store. Both Lily and Jacob were White and Jewish. Jacob was a man who also possessed musical talent. He signed up and enlisted in the army supporting the Union. At the time of William’s arrival, Jacob was assisting the doctor who was examining the new Black soldiers that were enlisting in the Union army. When William entered the medical tent Jacob encouraged William to let the army officers know that he could play the fife. That encouragement helped William stay safe and kindled the beginning of William and Jacob’s friendship.

These two women, Stella and Lily, who were separated by hundreds of miles and were as different from one another as could be were connected by their use of thread and the friendship their men would form. Both women in their own way would fight for freedom and a Union victory. Stella would accomplish this by embroidering maps on scraps of repurposed cloth and Lily by stitching quilts and rolling bandages for the Union soldiers. The lives of these two very different women eventually would converge and when that happens the end result will warm your heart.

The authors of The Thread Collectors, Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman shared in their author’s notes that the two of them share a special friendship In real life. They admitted that The Thread Collectors was partially inspired by their own backgrounds and family heritages, one being Black and the other White and Jewish. I found it quite upsetting how the Black soldiers were treated and the jobs they were meant to do during the Civil War. The Black soldiers who enlisted wanted to fight against those that favored slavery. Instead of being allowed to fight, the Black Soldiers were instructed to dig graves for the dead White soldiers. This was often backbreaking work and humiliating. Union officers treated the Black soldiers in their regiments marginally better than the slave owners. The Black soldiers were paid less than their fellow White soldiers and were given less and often inferIor food allotments. I had no knowledge of the Battle of Port Hudson prior to reading The Thread Collectors. It was so sad to learn how the soldiers of the Louisiana Native Guards were used as targets and were unmercifully massacred during that battle to save the lives of their fellow White soldiers. Their bodies were just left in the open fields to decompose. It was a disgraceful time in our country’s history. I also had no knowledge of the assault on the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City where angry and unjust White men torched and burnt the building. What a despicable time in the history of our country! The other fact that bothered me was the widespread antisemitism that existed in this country even back then. Many of the Jewish soldiers during the Civil War had escaped religious persecution from countries like Germany and Hungry. They were faced with ridicule and mistrust even as they enlisted to fight against slavery. Some of the characters in The Thread Collectors were actually based on long ago family members of the two authors.

The Thread Collectors focused on strong female characters, hope, ingenuity, determination, struggles, war, loss, friendship, family, hardships survival and love. The collaboration and resourcefulness of these two masterful authors exhibited in writing The Thread Collectors was flawless. I hope they decide to write more books together, perhaps even a sequel to The Thread Collectors. I really enjoyed reading The Thread Collectors and highly recommend it.

Thank you to Graydon House Publishers for allowing me to read The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Publication was August 30, 2022.

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Civil War historical fiction is abundant, and it takes an original story to capture my interest. The Thread Collectors brilliantly succeeds.

I recommend reading the authors' notes before starting this novel. There are no spoilers, but it provides insight into the co-authors' friendship and motivations for writing the book. It also gives the reader more information about the historical basis for the story.

What makes this novel stand out among other Civil War-themed novels?
The New Orleans and Louisiana setting is unique.
The Louisiana Native Guard, a Black regiment often forgotten relative to the Mas 54th, takes a significant role.
Military musicians are also rarely given center stage.
Jewish immigrants from the early and mid-1800s are also infrequently the focus of historical fiction.
All this leads to an original and engaging story. I found the novel's second half picked up the pace; it hooked me, so I had to read it in one sitting.

If you enjoyed The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson, I predict you'll also enjoy the thread collectors.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me an ebook version of this book in return for an honest review.

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