Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie @theyarnyard @unbounders

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. 

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie was published on 17 April 2017 through Unbound, and is the author's debut novel.

I spent a couple of very happy days during my holiday in Corfu reading this captivating and intriguing story; the cover is beautifully designed and perfectly fits the story. Despite the fact that I cannot sew, even though my late Nana presented me with an all-singing, all-dancing electric sewing machine on my twenty-first birthday (to my horror!), it was the combination of history and modern-day, all linked to one sewing machine that really drew me in.

The story begins as Jean and her colleagues prepare to go on strike, it's 1911 at the Singer factory in Scotland. Workers have few rights, especially women and the mass walk-out of thousands of people in support of better working conditions was a ground-breaking event. For Jean, this is a life-changing event as she battles against her father's long-held, old-fashioned beliefs and begins to make her way in life, outside of the factory gates.

Natalie Fergie then brings her reader right up to date, as Fred discovers hidden documents that reveal the story of the sewing machine of the title.  This author cleverly takes her readers through the decades between Jean and Fred's stories, detailing social history, life-changing events and outlining how, despite the changes, people themselves rarely change.

The Sewing Machine is an impeccably researched story full of warm and charismatic characters who worm their way into the reader's heart.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

***  The BBC have made a short film about the strike at the Singer Factory and the author's narrative has been used in it. You can view it here on the BBC Scotland News Facebook page ***

Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one-woman dyeing business, sending parcels of unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a career in nursing. She lives near Edinburgh.
The Singer 99K, which was the inspiration for this novel, has had at least four previous owners. It was bought for GBP20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier. It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house. She blogs at and can be found on Twitter as @theyarnyard.

Image credited to photographer Alison Gibson.

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