Cover Image: The Thread Collectors

The Thread Collectors

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars
Four wonderful characters share their lives with us in this Civil War setting. Stella and William, their love story set amidst the brutality of slavery in New Orleans; Lily and Jacob, also in love in New York and separated during the war. Each showing their courage and determination to reunite using their individual skills.

Be sure to read the Author’s notes, this writing duo pulls from their individual family stories to write of life as Black and Jewish outsiders in a white world. Their insight brought the emotional impact needed to tell this story.

'He knew he wore his background quietly, never fully revealing himself, but his sense of vulnerability and foreigness was always with him, a trait born into him from his first breath.' (Jacob)

Stella’s embroidered maps, the love of music that binds the men, and Lily’s determination to 'not just sit and wait' brings these four unlikely people together at a time in history when it was not welcomed. As each thread was woven with hope, so too in this book, each character was a piece of the other's salvation to a better life.

It is a difficult book to read for its dark truths but cannot be put down for the hope and promise it instills. Although each character encounters deep loss, each one also shows the reader a better side of humanity than what they experienced in the pages.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarlequinTradePublishing and #GraydonHouse for the wise words found here in the early viewing of this book. Opinions are my own.

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In a Nutshell: Not a typical historical fiction set during the Civil War. This one covers perspectives not commonly seen – that of Jews and Blacks. The #OwnVoices factor adds to the charm of the story. Expected something a little different, but still enjoyed what I got.

Story Synopsis:
In New Orleans, Stella, a Creole of mixed heritage, uses her skill with the needle to stitch ingenious maps to help enslaved men run from their hopeless destiny. Her lover William – a Black slave and an expert musician - is one such man, hoping to be freed of his shackles by fighting in the Civil War from the Union side.
In New York City, Lily, a Jewish woman with strong ideas on abolition, does her best to ensure that the Union soldiers get adequate supplies. Her husband Jacob, who has enlisted with the Union Army as a musician, is an unhappy soldier as his own brother believes in the Confederacy.
How the tracks of these two couples come together is what you need to read and find out.
The story comes to us in a limited third person narration of these four characters.

Where the book worked for me:
👏 The unusual perspective is the highlight of the story. We rarely see historical fiction exploring the war from the perspective of Jewish or Black soldiers, or of the women in their lives.
👏 An equal novelty was in the way sewing is used throughout the story, and how it stitches the narrative of all four characters into one colourful quilt. Whether it is through the maps that Stella makes for the escaping slaves with the limited material she has at her disposal, or through the sewing circle which Lily is a part of, making helpful items to keep the soldiers warmer and safer, or even through the way their efforts help the Union soldiers, the ‘thread collectors’ is a title that works for this book in multifarious ways.
👏 The storyline is quite complex, but the authors manage to pull it off to a great extent.
👏 The characters are sketched quite realistically. The title might make you feel that this is a women's story all the way, that the male characters have only limited secondary roles. But this isn’t true, especially in the first half.
👏 The plot explores many impactful themes such as racial discrimination, gender discrimination, disparity in the fortunes of family members due to either their beliefs or their status, and the impact of war. It also explores how determination and drive can change supposed destiny.
👏 Alyson Richman is the USA Today bestselling and #1 international bestselling author of several historical novels. Shaunna J. Edwards makes her debut with this book. These two are friends in real life, and are of the same racial background as the characters they created (A Jew and a Black respectively.) Their collaboration on this work is thus filled with a strong flavour of authenticity. I especially loved the insight into the Creole belief system as seen from Stella’s part of the story.
👏 The authors’ note indicates how the two authors used their own background to make the story authentic. There are many historical events and persons woven into this fictional narrative, and their note elaborates on this.

Where the book could have worked better for me:
⚠ Though the narrative is set mainly in 1863, there are quite a few flashbacks to establish the backstories of the key characters. This will be a real test of your memory. To me, some of the backstories worked, but some were superfluous.
⚠ A couple of the events in the second half were too coincidental to be believable. Yeah okay, fiction is fiction, but when the overall tone is so realistic and spot-on, such anomalies stand out.
⚠ The blurb reveals one event that happens much later in the book. It also makes the story seem like that of Stella and Lisa, rather than of all four characters.
⚠ The pacing is a bit topsy-turvy. The ending seems very rushed, though I must give it credit for being bittersweet than an OTT HEA.

All in all, the book has a lot going for it. As an #OwnVoices story inspired by the two authors’ own backgrounds and their friendship, this historical fiction has a lot to offer to its readers. Though the pacing and the backstories could have been better structured, the book still offers tremendous content and is definitely recommended.

Trigger Note: As a slave and war narrative, the book contains several gruesome scenes. Not for the faint-hearted, though whatever happened is definitely based in the truth.

4 stars.

My thanks to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House, and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Thread Collectors”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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The Thread Collectors is an interesting book. Two stories which take place during the Civil War, one from New Orleans and one from New York City, are sewn together to create a book which addresses difficult topics such as slavery and war as well as family and friendships. This will be a popular book club selection.

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This book takes place during the Civil War and features Stella, a slave in New Orleans and Lily, a Jewish woman from New York. Their husbands meet on the batt field and are connected by their love of music. These are all wonderful characters and their lives are woven together expertly. The authors have used their family histories to lend authenticity to this novel.

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Set during the Civil War, The Thread Collectors by Shaunna Edwards and Alyson Richman is the heartfelt and unputdownable histfic story of two women and the men they love.

Thank you #NetGalley @HTPBooks @HarlequinBooks @Graydon_pub @GraydonHouse @BookClubbish for a complimentary e ARC of #TheThreadCollectors upon my request. All opinions are my own.

In 1863, Stella repurposes bits of colorful thread and uses her embroidery skills to make maps on scraps of cloth in an effort to help enslaved men flee the South and join the Union Army. Stella is also in love with William, a Black soldier and brilliant musician. She lives in fear that her “owner” will discover her secretive and dangerous activities.

Lily, a Jewish woman who lives in New York, creates a quilt for her husband who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. She attends abolitionist meetings, rolls bandages, makes quilts for other soldiers, and prays for their safe return. When Lily doesn’t hear from her husband for some time, she travels south in search of him.

Stella and Lily’s paths cross in a dramatic conclusion.

The authors of this page-turning story looked to their family histories for inspiration and their collaboration of “own voices” creates a rich reading experience for readers. Upon realizing this was an author team, I read the authors’ notes first. I love that this teamwork enabled them to authentically tell a heartfelt story from Black and Jewish perspectives. See more about the authors at the end of this post.

I don’t read many stories set during the Civil War, so the historical content here is interesting. We learn about life at home and life on the battlefield. One other book I’ve read and reviewed set during the Civil War is The Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly.

Told from multiple perspectives, I love the strong characters in this compelling story. Stella is brave and clever and Lily is determined and compassionate. Both are willing to risk their lives for what’s important. The men they love find themselves in impossible war situations through which they forge a supportive friendship and fight for survival.

As you can imagine, several thought-provoking themes emerge including friendship, survival, loyalty, the ministry of music, taking risks, caring for others, complicated family drama, and racism/prejudice.

Unputdownable and memorable, The Thread Collectors will likely end up on my best-of-year list. If you love page-turning and heartfelt historical fiction with strong. inspiring, and unforgettable characters, I enthusiastically recommend this book. Book clubs might find the content highly discussable.

Content Consideration: death of a child, forced sexual relationship (without graphic details), Civil War battlefield conditions (graphic details); a movie would be rated R

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Amazing!! "The Thread Collectors" by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman is an incredible, moving, interesting, and compelling historical fiction novel set during the Civil War. Bringing together many elements of race, ugly prejudice/discrimination/slavery, despair of war, family bonds, strong community, friendships, religion, music, art and deep love connections, this book was magnificent. Thank you NetGalley, the authors and publisher for the early reader edition. All opinions are my own.

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The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman is a must read if you like books in the historical fiction genre. This is a well written, highly emotional story involving two two very unlikely couples that become friends. Centered around the American Civil War, there is a lot happening in this book!! Beautifully written and filled with details and history to learn and re-learn, , this page turner has hope, survival, loss, cruelty, bigotry yet adds family, friendship, new beginnings and also brings in the gift of music. A wonderful collaboration between two author friends, they bring themselves and their families into it! There is a must read read Authors Note at the end that you cannot miss. I highly recommend this captivating story, you will not be disappointed!

Thank you NetGalley, Harlequin Trade, Graydon House, Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman for an advanced copy of this incredible book in exchange for my honest review.
#netgalley #thethreadcollectors #harlequintradepublishing, graydonhouse
#shaunnajedwards #alysonrichman. #htpinfluencer #htpbooks. #arc

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In The Thread Collectors, the character of Jacob Kling is based on a musician who enlisted in the 31st Regiment of New York. Having left his wife, Lily, a harpist, behind in New York, Jacob is stationed at Camp Parapet near Jefferson, Louisiana, assisting the doctor who is examining the many Black men who have arrived to serve with the Louisiana Native Guards. Jacob's older brother has enlisted in the 29th Regiment of Mississippi. Samuel left New York and established a mercantile emporium in Satartia, Mississippi. Samuel was dispatched by their father to expand the family's trading business and, surprisingly, found a Jewish bride and settled there. The brothers' opposing stances create tension, especially when Lily is unable to hide her feelings during a visit. She is appalled that Samuel would join the effort to maintain slavery, but Samuel insists that he had no choice and is fighting not to protect slavery, but to hold onto the business and home he has worked hard to establish. He believes that if the Rebel forces lose, his family will be destitute. The brothers' affection for each other is never in question and both despair at the prospect that they could find themselves on opposite sides of a battlefield.

As the story opens, Stella and William are saying good-bye to each other, unsure if they will ever be reunited. William is running away from New Orleans and his master, risking his life to join the Union Army at the enlistment camp ten miles away. William and Stella love each other but are not permitted to marry or even make decisions about their own lives. They believe that once the Union Army wins the war, that will change.

There, he meets Jacob and the physician Jacob is assisting, who is astounded that William does not bear the kind of physical scars that so many other enslaved men do and his hands have no calluses. William has never performed hard labor. His musical talent was discovered when he was just six years old and he was sent to live in the main house where he was forced to play the flute to amuse and entertain his master's wife and their guests. He was required to dress in the hand-me-down suits of his master's son and perform on command, which was demeaning. Although singled out for his musical prowess, he was denied the opportunity to learn to read music because reading is forbidden . . . and a punishable offense. William can express his feelings through his music, but lacks the ability to commit his thoughts and emotions to paper.

Stella lives in a Creole cottage with her half-sister, Ammanee. Their mother, Janie, lives nearby in her own cottage on Rampart Street. Their homes are furnished with cast-off items, and their masters provide them with meager allowances to buy food. They are among the light-skinned women who enjoy elevated living conditions because they have been granted favor by the white men who control their lives. Janie was separated from Ammanee's father, the love of her life, and never saw him again, but given her "freedom papers" when Stella was fathered by her master. She is not free to leave, however. Mr. Percy permitted seven-year-old Ammanee to be her half-sister's nursemaid and promised Janie that she could select the man who would be Stella's master. Stella was "sent to market" when she was eighteen years old and it was there that she met William, playing his flute. Keeping his promise to Janie, Mr. Percy negotiated a deal with Mason Frye, William's master, for Stella. She would be provided four bolts of fabric, ten spools of threat, three cotton slips and bloomers, two cast-iron pots, a copper kettle, a wooden desk, a chair, and a mirror. And most importantly, Ammanee would also be purchased to serve as Stella's maid. The three women are fortunate to be together, but Stella is required to submit to her master's demands and whims, and when, after William escapes, she realizes she is pregnant, worries what will happen if the child's skin color is too dark to convince Frye that he is the father.

Stella is a skilled seamstress, of necessity, and after she embroiders a map to guide William, she is called upon by her neighbors to create maps for their sons and brothers who also plan to join the Union Army. She incorporates information gleaned by Ammanee from conversations she overhears while working in the nearby church. Because fabric and thread are precious commodities, quilts, purses, and petticoats must be repurposed, with thread being carefully extracted in order to be used again. Stella codes the maps in various colors signifying routes that are believed to be less fraught with danger than others.

As the war rages on, William is pressed into service, along with a young drummer boy who barely speaks, performing nightmarish tasks he could never have imagined. Teddy is just ten years old, and eventually reveals how he came to be completely alone in the world, his drum his only possession, and in a Union Army camp. William, in particular, is fond of and determined to protect him. Jacob wrote a beautiful song for Lily, "Girl of Fire," and many of the soldiers have learned it. In the evenings, along with other musicians, Jacob, William, and Teddy bring comfort to and boost the morale of the men who are fighting.

They develop a strong sense of camaraderie through their music, as well as their individual senses of being "other than." Jacob hides his background, painfully aware that many of the men he encounters have never before met a Jew and not all will accept him. William stands apart from many of the other men who have endured harsh physical conditions their entire lives. But William is no stranger to hardship and heartbreak, having watched his mother suffer.

A holiday cease-fire inspires William to enlist Jacob's assistance to make it special for young Teddy. But their trek into the nearby woods ends tragically and tests the bonds the men have formed. With no idea what is happening to William or even if he is still alive, Ammanee and Stella will do whatever is necessary in order to keep Stella's child safe. When weeks pass with no word from Jacob, Lily is overcome with worry and determined to find him. But journeying from New York into the South is extremely dangerous, especially for a woman traveling alone, and there are no registries in which the names of soldiers are logged, nor do the various military hospitals maintain records of their patients. Lily's father in unable to convince her to remain at home and wait for word about Jacob's whereabouts and condition, and she embarks on a treacherous trip to Samuel's home. She is shocked when she arrives and see what has become of Samuel and his family. She begins visiting hospitals in search of her husband. There, she witnesses and begins to appreciate the horrifying effects of war as she walks among the wounded and near-dead, hoping to find Jacob among them.

The Thread Collectors is a sprawling, engrossing story featuring compelling and fully developed characters. Authors Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman illustrate the various ways in which their Black characters enjoy better living conditions than many of their contemporaries. Yet, despite those advantages, they are not free. They are still enslaved. Even if they do not bear physical scars inflicted through mistreatment and back-breaking labor, they are emotionally scarred as a result of seeing loved ones abused and ripped away, and being confined and controlled, deprived autonomy even over their own bodies. But they are hopeful, believing that the Union Army will prevail and they will at last be free to live their lives on their own terms.

They are each, in their own ways, resilient and resourceful, resorting to drastic measures, if required, in order to survive. Jacob and Lily are earnest and endearing, but unprepared for the harsh realities of war. Edwards and Richman use the letters they write to each other not only to advance the story, but also provide insight into their feelings, especially concerning the ideological division that threatens the Kling brothers' relationship.

As the fast-paced and inventive story proceeds, Edwards and Richman cleverly pull together the various storyline threads. Lily, Stella, and Ammenee are tenacious and brave. Eventually, Lily and Stella come face to face and learn about the unlikely friendship between Jacob and William, men of quiet integrity and honor, that is convincingly depicted. Initially because of their mutual love of music, but ultimately because of the atrocities of war, Jacob and William find commonality, and mutual respect and admiration for each other.

The Thread Collectors is a tale of unbreakable bonds of family and love for those we choose to be our family members. It is also an illustrationg of the inherent strain in the mother-daughter relationship between Janie, a woman who has survived unspeakable heartbreak and views the world in a pragmatic, realistic manner, and Stella, who is initially idealistic and naive, but quickly matures when she becomes a mother who will do anything to protect her child.

The Thread Collectors is a unique and absorbing work of historical fiction about the most harrowing period in America history that is also timely and contemporary. Edwards and Richman penned the book in 2020, "as the world wrestled with growing awareness of racialized violence and inequality," in an effort to combine their creative "energy to find beauty in that darkness." They have indeed crafted a beautifully memorable story that continues to resonate long after reading the last page of the book.

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A Jewish couple from New York and a Black slave couple in the south are the main characters of this Civil War novel. Loosely based on the ancestors of the dual authors, it looks at prejudice against Black and Jewish people both within the Union army and in both civilian societies. It has great characters and is filled with hope and love despite the awful war setting.

Thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House Books for the ARC to read and review.

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I was quickly drawn into this historical fiction story and was captivated to the last page. It is an emotional read as the cruelty of both the war and the life of the slaves is clearly spelled out. My heart broke at such senseless loss of lives. This is a beautifully written story that embodies family and friendship.

Set during the Civil War, the story focuses on two couples. William and Stella are slaves in a small Creole cottage outside New Orleans. Jacob and Lily Kling are a Jewish couple living in New York. William and Jacob, both musicians, join the Union Army, become friends, and bond over their music. Lily, an abolitionist, stitches quilts and packages bandages to send to the Union troops. A talented seamstress, Stella embroidered intricate maps on cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. There are other very memorable characters that round out this amazing story.

This book is a collaboration between a Black author and a Jewish author. They bring pieces of their cultural and family histories to life and show how both Black soldiers and Jewish soldiers were marginalized in the Civil War. Edwards and Richman here give voice to these brave people.

Do not skip reading the Authors’ Notes as they address their real-life ancestors that influenced the characters in the book.

I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Thread Collectors is a combination of two authors’ backgrounds and family histories melded together.
I thought the intersection Of the stories: an southern enslaved woman and a northern Jewish family was done very well.
I loved all the talk about quilting, sewing, and how women had to be creative during the war to salvage material and thread.
It’s a great piece of historical fiction inspired by real people and events.

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Authors Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman tell a story of black slaves and a Jewish couple during the American Civil War. The two look back at their own history as an African American woman and a Jewess to create this touching and baleful tale.

During the Civil War, a slave named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. A “mistress” to a white master, she must keep her Union activities secret. In New Orleans, it's not good to be pro-Union nor in love with a black man. Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman named Lily stitches a quilt for her husband in the Union army, and rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too. Her husband is dealing with death and destruction and looks for the glimmer of happiness that he has: his wife's letter and his Coronet. He's not the only musical solider. Jacob takes a liking to
a black flautist who received the first embroidered map.

The story is like nothing I have read in fiction about the Civil War. The book also follows some of the few white people who saw African Americans as people. These Northerns create the duel story that follows two slaves and their love affair. Both couples are torn apart by the war, and, while that may be typical, the maps from scarps and thread were powerful and unique. The authors based this on the maps soldiers created to get back to their dead. hey also add another side by making the Northern couple Jewish. A small minority at the time, I haven't read another story about this population during this time period.

The authors have researched and looked at many sides of the civil war. Readers see how the North, though hating slavery, was racist. They were paying them less than their white counterpart soldiers and made them dig holes for the dead white folk, leaving black bodies to rot. What South Park has called “Get Behind the Darkies” actually happened. The story also looks at slavery and the selling of children and splitting families, beatings, and broken promises. The story follows a woman kept as a mistress and raped. This callousness the whites had for the life of black people was atrocious.

Dark but hopeful, despairing but promising, The Thread Collectors is a unique and touching tale of the American Civil War.

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What an ingenious novel! The Thread Collectors tells separate love stories that are connected by music, the Civil War and women of amazing fortitude. Stella is a beautiful black woman who is a kept by a rich white man. She is living in New Orleans in 1863. Stella's heart belongs to William, a talented black musician that leaves her to join the Union Army. Stella is an incredible seamstress and she does her part for the war effort by embroidering detailed maps for other enslaved men longing to join the army. She hears useful information from her master, Frye and she incorporates these missives into her maps.
Lily is a prominent Jewish woman living in New York City. She has not been married long, and her husband has left her to join the army. Jacob is a coronet player and he is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Lily learns how to make Jacob a beautiful quilt and she also organizes a massive bandage rolling supply for the soldiers. She is an abolitionist and is very involved in the war effort. When Jacob is reported missing Lily goes by herself to find him. Her search will be difficult but ultimately connects her to Stella in a surprising way.

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Thank you to the publisher, Graydon House and NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC of <i>The Thread Collectors</i> in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Gist
It is written by a black and Jewish woman about a black and jewish woman during the Civil war. Gripping, captivating and it will not leave you for a long time.

It is vivid and personal. There is no escape once you have started reading this novel.

The Details
I have to admit that those two women and even the side characters followed me into my dreams, and at times I needed a break.

It's hard to explain why I felt not only connected to the characters, but I actually felt them.
I felt their anxiety, hope, desperation, but also the acceptance of the situation they had to deal with and still not surrender to it.

The characters become alive. There is no other way to describe it.

If a reader can make you feel, smell, and taste a story, then I don’t need to say anything more.

The writing is excellent to the point that it might become painful to be so deeply intertwined with the story, but still, you cannot stop.

Yes, this is how you might experience this book.

The story is somewhat inspired by their family history and the wish to present the drama of the Civil War from a different perspective, a black and jewish woman.

It is a story of bravery, strong friendship and strength in unexpected places. It describes the experiences of the men belonging to those women and how they connect.

In a very subtle but still direct way, it brings light to all the tragedies which are often lost below the blanket of war, weapons and casualties.

The Verdict

Overall, <i>The Thread Collectors</i> is as expertly written as the quilts are threaded we are introduced to in the story.
This is a novel you can still enjoy, even if you are not a fan of historical fiction.

But if you are interested in historical fiction, then be assured that you will not only be amazingly entertained, but also gain new insights into the tragedies which shaped us as humans.
I highly recommend this novel to everybody.

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Title: The Thread Collectors
Author: Shaunna J. Edwards; Alyson Richman
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier and a brilliant musician.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him.

As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us.

I really enjoyed this read! New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with quite this setting—it was both heartbreaking and inspirational. I liked all four main characters and was invested in their journeys, and it was lovely to see such hope in the midst of such a dark struggle. I love that this is inspired by both the authors’ family histories, and I truly enjoyed this tale.

Shauna Edwards lives in Harlem and Alyson Richman lives in Long Island. The Thread Collectors is their newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

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This is a wonderful historical fiction story. I love this fantastic group of characters. My favorite characters were William and Teddy. I love books during the Civil War and this one was a bit different. I have never known how scarce thread was in the south during the war. I love how Stella uses the thread. This made me laugh and cry. I wanted to know how each of these characters survived once the war was over. I loved the descriptions of the aftermath of the battles even though they were tragic. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.

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I am so happy to tell you today about this wonderfully evocative new novel: The Thread Collectors which is currently on tour. I loved this story, told in different voices, and its characters.

Here’s the overview:

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier and a brilliant musician.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him.

As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us. Loosely inspired by the authors’ family histories, this stunning novel will stay with readers for a long time.

Author Bios:

SHAUNNA J. EDWARDS (top) has a BA in literature from Harvard College and a JD from NYU School of Law. A former corporate lawyer, she now works in diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a native Louisianian, raised in New Orleans, and currently lives in Harlem with her husband. The Thread Collectors is her first novel. Find her on Instagram, @shaunnajedwards.

ALYSON RICHMAN (bottom) is the USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of several historical novels, including The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, and The Lost Wife, which is currently in development for a major motion picture. Alyson graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She is an accomplished painter and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel. Alyson’s novels have been published in twenty-five languages and have reached bestseller lists both in the United States and abroad. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, where she is currently at work on her next novel. Find her on Instagram, @alysonrichman.

The Thread Collectors

Authors: Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman

ISBN: 9781525899782

Paperback Original

Publication Date: August 30, 2022

Publisher: Graydon House

Buy Links: Not affiliated with BBNB

Barnes & Noble



McNally Jackson

Social Links:

Alyson Richman – Author Website

Twitter: @alysonrichman

Facebook: Author Alyson Richman

Instagram: @AlysonRichman


Shaunna Edwards

Facebook: Author Shaunna Edwards

Instagram: @shaunnajedwards


The blurb says it is “unforgettable” and it truly is! Thank you for my copy and for making me part of the tour. If you enjoy stories of the Civil War era, don’t miss this one – based on the authors’ family histories!

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Content Warnings: Rape, slavery, prejudices, use of N word, war-time gore, death, lynching. (moderate)

The Thread Collectors follows two young women who have no choice but to be strong. While their battles are vastly different, both Stella and Lily fight for what they believe in by using their talents and strengths. We also look into the lives of their loved ones and how harsh the times were during the Civil War. Full of passion, joy, sorrow, and suspense, this story is sure to capture your attention. It does so by giving a detailed look into the lives of slaves and those enlisted during the Civil War. Authors Edwards and Richman excel at creating likable and real characters that you want to root for all the way through. I enjoyed the plotline, characters, and settings. Another bonus was the excellent use of music in the novel. Having said that, I think the pacing throughout could have been better applied. Some chapters that should have been longer to create a deep emotion were cut short, or others were longer and harder to engage with. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable read. From the gorgeous cover to the charming characters, I recommend this as an entertaining Civil War historical fiction.

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I started The Thread Collectors on July 25 and finally finished August 21. I liked the plot and characters but the overall writing and story were just meh. Weird formatting in ARC.

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This touching historical fiction takes place in two locations, slowly drawing four principal characters - two couples - together amidst impossible conditions. We have 1863 New Orleans and also New York. In New Orleans, Stella is a remarkable young black woman who uses incredible skills while embroidering maps on old cloth. These maps help enslaved Black men flee and join the Union Army. This includes a man near and dear to her heart named William.

In New York City, we have young Lily, a Jewish woman focusing on stitching a quilt for her husband Jacob. He is stationed in Louisiana while stationed with the Union Library. Also she fiercely misses Jacob, Lily keeps herself rolling bandages creating quilts. Not only is she stitching a quilt for her husband, but for other soldiers taken away by the war. Her regular communication from Jacob by means of letters has trickled off, to the point when she no longer knows where he is and whether or not he is safe.

Lily makes the difficult decision to head to Louisiana to try and find Jacob. Thus begins the path for when she will eventually meet Stella. Meanwhile, while the war is going on, the two men, William and Jacob cross paths. While William is Black and Jacob is a Jewish man, their friendship is something mostly unheard of. What draws the two men together is their talent and love of music.

What a touching story that brings both William and Jacob together, while also bringing Stella and Lily together. Although the world was greatly divided at that time, even in the way Black and White soldiers were treated during the Civil War, none of these strong characters saw color. If they did see color, it was only for the purpose of avoiding color lines.

In the Author's Note at the end of the book, the authors tell of their decades-long friendship, with Shaunna being black and Alyson being Jewish. About how this world is still dealing with race on so many levels, but seeking for beauty in this dark world nonetheless. Much more is said, which makes this Note very worthy reading. Lastly, Reader's Guide at the very end of the book raises excellent questions, thus making The Thread Collectors the perfect book for introspective discussions.

Many thanks to Graydon House and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy my YouTube video review as well -

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