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The Goodbye Quilt
by Susan Wiggs

Published: 2011-03-29
Hardcover : 250 pages
5 members reading this now
3 clubs reading this now
7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
Linda Davis's local fabric shop is a place where women gather to share their creations: quilts commemorating important events in their lives. Wedding quilts, baby quilts, memorial quilts--each is bound tight with dreams, hopes and yearnings.

Now, as her only child readies for college, ...

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Introduction

Linda Davis's local fabric shop is a place where women gather to share their creations: quilts commemorating important events in their lives. Wedding quilts, baby quilts, memorial quilts--each is bound tight with dreams, hopes and yearnings.

Now, as her only child readies for college, Linda is torn between excitement for Molly and heartache for herself. Who will she be when she is no longer needed in her role as mom? What will become of her days? Of her marriage?

Mother and daughter decide to share one last adventure together--a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm. As they wend their way through the heart of the country, Linda stitches together the scraps that make up Molly's young life. And in the quilting of each bit of fabric--the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume--Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Chapter One


How do you say goodbye to a piece of your heart? If you’re a quilter, you have a time-honored way to express yourself.
A quilt is an object of peculiar intimacy. By vir¬tue of the way it is created, every inch of the fab¬ric is touched. Each scrap absorbs the quilter’s scent and the invisible oils of her skin, the smell of her household and, thanks to the constant pinning and stitching, her blood in the tiniest of quantities. And tears, though she might be loath to admit it. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the publisher:

Aside from the obvious (the unoccupied room in the house!), how does a mother’s life change when a grown child leaves home?

Do you think parents consciously prepare themselves for the empty nest phase, or do most people move into this part of their life rather unprepared?

Once the kids are out of the house, is it possible for a couple to replicate the relationship they had before they’d come along, or do they have to negotiate something different?

What do people look forward to the most in this empty nest phase? What do they dread?

In The Goodbye Quilt, Linda has a very intense reaction to letting her only child go. What about her character feeds this intensity?

What did you think of how the quilt itself ended up in the story?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author Susan Wiggs:

I wrote The Goodbye Quilt because it was cheaper than therapy.

Honestly, I did not expect my daughter’s departure from home to hit me as hard as it did. When I went off to college lo those many years ago, it didn’t occur to me that my parents would have any trouble with the transition. That’s a kid for you.

The first draft of this novel came out fast, in a matter of weeks, fueled by a sense of urgency to get all these feelings out. Years before, I’d talked to my agent and great friend Meg Ruley about the book, but the story, like me, was a work in progress. I needed the perspective of time and my cold writer’s eye to transform it from a self-indulgent rumination into a novel readers could relate to.

I also needed to find a way to conclude the story that felt true and satisfying. I struggled with this for a long time, but when I finally got it right, I proudly submitted the piece to my publisher…only to hear those most dreaded of words: this ending doesn't work.

After much gnashing of teeth and a ritual smearing of ashes, I realized that this was true. Back to the drawing board. The perfect solution came from the perfect source, my own daughter, the ever fabulous Elizabeth Wiggs Mass, now grown and married and an author in her own right. She didn’t give me the answer, but she reminded me of the true meaning of the goodbye quilt in the story. It is a record of Linda’s days as a mom, and as such, it was an unfinished story. Whether readers of the novel will agree or not remains to be seen, but for me, it’s the grace note at the end if a long and beautiful piece.

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Member Reviews

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  "Mother-Daughter Time"by msharry (see profile) 03/09/12

The story of a road trip taken by mother and daughter on way to drop daughter at college ,the memories they share of her childhood, and the quilt the mother works on on the journey. Sweet story full... (read more)

 
  "The Goodbye Quilt"by greavesjan (see profile) 05/16/11

A quick book to read. Started off very well and became very predictable and uninteresting. Most of the insightful points were repeated over and over again. There wasn't much of a story- The feelings of... (read more)

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