Twenty-one-year-old Skye Willis lives in Eufaula, Alabama, a tourist mecca of stately homes and world-class bass fishing. Her childhood friends are either stuck at dead ends or have moved on to accomplish Big Things.
Skye’s grandmother, Verna, insists on being called “Sparrow” because she suspects her ancestors were Muscogee Creek. She dresses in faux deerskin and experiments with ancient Native American recipes, offering a myth or legend to anyone who will listen.
Skye has no idea what to do with her life. She’s smart as hell, but she has no faith or knowledge there’s something out there she was “born to do.” Nor does she know much of anything about her father, who died in Afghanistan when she was a toddler. He and his family are a mystery her mother won’t discuss. But when Sparrow sets out to confirm her Creek ancestry through genetic testing, Skye joins in.
The results hit like a DNA bomb, launching them both on a path filled with surprises and life-changing events. Skye learns a harder truth than she ever expected.
Alternating chapters between Skye’s Alabama life and an intertwining tale of greed, deceit, and control in Texas, this story offers proof that all life is a woven tapestry of past, present, and future.
In Beth Duke’s uplifting and soul-singing voice, TAPESTRY is Southern Fiction at its best; you will cry, you will laugh out loud, and you will wish you were a member of the beautiful, matriarchal family Duke has created for her readers.
I love doing Emma’s Blog Tours with Damp Pebbles Tours as no two books she ever invites me to review are the same. When she asked me onto the tour for Tapestry I was really intrigued as the cover was simply stunning. Then when I began reading, I totally fell under its spell. For me, that is definitely one of the best things about being a book blogger – that it has never failed to introduce me to books that I’d never have been exposed to before as well as hearing what other bloggers thought too. It’s like a virtual book group where you are waiting every day to see what other people loved about the book and seeing their thoughts can make you reflect on aspects of the book that you might not have considered yourself.
I was really intrigued to read Tapestry as I love novels that deal with family relationships and how different generations interact and the complexities that lurk beneath the surfaces of most families’ lives. As soon as this book arrived, I wanted to open it up and find out how these family members’ lives would unfold and I absolutely fell for its Alabama setting and Skye’s family history. I loved the premise of Skye’s background and family providing a total contrast with the Darlings and found the alternating storyline extremely compelling. Once we started off exploring the past, I really wanted to get to the heart of her family’s history and discover the truth alongside her ancestors as well as uncover her mother’s secrets that she has tried to hide in shame from Skye through her own hurt and pain.
I also enjoyed the way that Beth Duke’s novel allows us to see the reality of families and the complexity of relationships, rather than just the ‘all girls together’ that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book. The way that the three generations interact with one another is exceptionally well drawn and a testament to her skill as a writer that we really believe in their relationships with one another and I’m sure that there are many daughters reading this novel and nodding their heads in recognition at some of the secrets, omissions and insecurities that are so vividly represented in this novel and recalling times where they could have listened, learned and grown from their relationships with their elders too.
The way that Beth Duke builds in the uncertainties about what’s really going on beneath the surface and slowly develops our understanding of what is going on in the heads of these characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really start to understand them as people. Skye and her grandmother Sparrow have such an interesting and well-drawn relationship and I’m looking forward to hearing what my sister thought of this book over a long coffee date as soon as possible as it is one of those reads that makes you appreciate the family bonds and connections in your own life.
The scenes where these three women are trying to deal with the ramifications of the past and the impact of the fallout on their relationships have an incredibly realistic feel and the comparisons with Fannie Flagg are definitely well deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to immerse myself in the intricacies of this family’s life and found it really thought-provoking to have the contrasting families and their ‘tapestry’ of stories to see the events unfolding from their very different perspectives.
Tapestry is a fascinating and immersive read as it takes a genuine look at what we really mean by ‘family’ in a way that never feels ‘worthy’ or glib. It allows us a glance into relationships where peoples’ needs are complex and real and dares us to ask ourselves what we might have turned away from, hidden or overlooked in our own lives. Its setting in Alabama is another aspect that I really enjoyed and it really made me feel like I was able to immerse myself in events where the beauty of the surroundings and the complexities of what is unfolding is deftly juxtaposed. The threat posed by the Darlings is well handled and brings the clash between cultures and greed to life in a compelling and fascinating way and made me want to read more about Native American history as a result.
I always enjoy a book much more if I’m not hyping myself up before I read it and Tapestry was exactly that. It was definitely a book that I wasn’t expecting to love as much as I did – and I found myself thinking about these characters and their complex, emotional and satisfying family history well after I’d finished reading it. I will definitely seek out more books by Beth Duke and am keen to keep pushing myself to choose more novels by writers I haven’t encountered before.
Treat yourself to a copy of Tapestry here
Writer on the Shelf
Beth Duke is the recipient of short story awards on two continents and is eyeing the other five.
She lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, one real dog, one ornamental dog, and a flock of fluffy pet chickens.
She loves reading, writing, and not arithmetic.
Baking is a hobby, with semi-pro cupcakes and amateur macarons a specialty.
And puns—the worse, the better.
Travel is her other favorite thing, along with joining book clubs for discussion.
Please invite her to London…England or Kentucky, either is fine. Anywhere!