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Publisher's Summary

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, 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 unpicks the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

©2017 Natalie Fergie (P)2017 W. F. Howes Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Historical perspective

In the beginning of this book I had difficulty figuring out who was who as the story jumped back and forth into three different time frames. Once I got that down, I became very intrigued. I am a seamstress and I collect and refurbish old sewing machines and take them to Third World countries and teach sewing classes. The old metal sewing machines are the most sought after because, as it says in the book, “They were made to last forever“. Singer machines are the real prize.
I did not know there was a Singer sewing factory in Edinburgh. Following the lives of these people was engaging. Their history represents many others during these times. I appreciated delving into their Family Tree’s because that is something I am also very engaged in. I would like the story to have gone deeper, but enough hints were given to put the pieces together.
The narration with male and female helped bring the characters to life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in history.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I loved the promise of this book. I laboured through in the hope that it was just a slow burn but it would be worth it in the end. It wasn't. The performance was wooden, the characters, who had so much potential, were dull and dare I say boring. This is one of those books that I feel I wasted my time listening to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Painfully boring...

I only finished this book because i paid for it. The story was unbelievably boring ..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 03-06-18

1911 to 2016 Scottish Tale of Families and Sewing

This is an amazing tale of the Singer Sewing Machine factory in Kilbowie, Scotland, which was finished in 1885 and was the largest sewing machine factory in the world, employing over 7,000 workers. By 1911, there were 11,000 employees, when twelve women were asked to take on more work for less money, and who eventually went on strike, bringing along the majority of the other employees within a couple days. However, the muscle of the management and long time employees prevailed, and the strike failed. This story begins with two sweethearts who worked at the factory, Jean and Donald, whose lives are changed forever by the strike, and the choices they made. But their lives are also impacted by the sewing machine . . . as Jean continued to take in mending and sewing to supplement the household income . . . as the machine was passed from one generation to the next, lovingly, a history of the work it produced was also passed along . . . until it came to Fred in 2016, whose grandmother owned it . . . the stories from each generation touched me, from the oldest in 1911, to the hardships during WWII to the ones of Fred's childhood and when Fred's grandfather died, leaving him his house and belongings, which included his grandmother's sewing machine . . . as the granddaughter of two sewing grandmas myself, this book will long stay in my memory . . . there is something so down-to-earth and wholesome about learning to sew at the knee of your grandmother . . . its a gift and a skill that is almost gone in this too-busy world we have today . . . I appreciate the frugal nature of those who lived through hard times, saving every scrap of fabric, mending, and re-mending every article of clothing and "making do" with what they had . . . this book is a blessing in so many ways, for the historical value, for the celebration of a bygone art and for the reminiscing of all of us who really miss our grandparents . . .

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intricately Woven Plot that satisfies the reader.

History, Legacy and Mystery intertwine as this tale of wartime survival encapsulates seemingly random players in life's game of destiny.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JeT
  • MA, USA
  • 06-19-18

Recommended, even if you don't sew

I listen to audiobooks to pass the time while I sew. I sew for work and I didn't set out listening to The Sewing Machine for any sort of deep connection to the vocation, despite the obvious connection in the title, but here we are. I enjoyed every part of the story from the labor issues to the family connections and long hidden secrets. I'm better at sewing than I am writing reviews, but I warmly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful story, highly accurate ind detail

There are few books which, at the end, cause grief at the loss of a dear friend, who whispered a sweet story to me as I worked in house and garden. This story enchanted me and filled in a social history of my Scottish forbears. The narrators’ voices and accents conjured the times and places described in a gentle magic.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An ordinary sewing machine bobbin...

An ordinary sewing machine bobbin that connects people & events beginning in 1911. It all started with the passion of workers & continues with the passion of families.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful historical novel

I love this book and the narrators. I love a book to go to sleep by, and this one is it. And so many mysteries and links between people, and the narrators have such lovely voices. Just great!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Hard to Hear

The narrator doesn't speak loud enough nor clearly, sounds very garbled. Truly disappointed!. I would like to return it and replace it with something else, if that is allowed.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-02-18

An intriguing walk through generations

The story unfolds gradually, sometimes I lost the thread and had to write down who is who and when. at the end the threads come together beautifully. The subject about the working class struggle for better conditions, their wayof life and their attitudes are excellently and interestingly described. I am tempted yo listen a second time.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Clavs
  • 02-21-18

Very charming and well written

I really enjoyed this story about family and what it means to belong.

I really liked the structure of having different generations stories and the way the text wove them all together.

It is very well performed and a very heart warming listen.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • A. King
  • 06-15-18

Lovely story

A nostalgic mystery with family secrets. Perfect for anyone interested in family history. I enjoyed it and would recommend.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Christine Hastings
  • 02-24-18

The Sewing Machine

This is such a great book, wish I had read it first, then listened with fresh enjoyment. Beautifully woven story with very satisfying ends tied, which I hadn’t anticipated. Thank you to the author.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • H. Baker
  • 07-07-18

Robotic Narration

It has taken me several attempts to listen to this book and only persevered because of the reviews. lovely story but narrator sounds like a robot! There is no emotion or nuances in the narration and its vey difficult to listen to. Would love to listen to this read by someone else.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • carol
  • 02-09-18

Pleasant story about the people & a sewing machine

Gentle story about the lives of 4 generations and using a sewing machine to help them in the daily struggle of their lives

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ruth H.
  • 02-05-18

Fred and Jean are brought to life

A wonderful interwoven story featuring a good dose of social history. Made me laugh and cry. The narration was perfect.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Doone
  • 02-22-18

I had to stop listening

I was recommended this story by a friend, in book form.
I love audible and was delighted when I saw it there.
Unfortunately I had to stop listening as the narrator has really put me off. I feel like it’s a very mechanical reading and there’s no change in expression.
Sadly this is the first time this has happened to me in audible and hopefully the last.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nifftyknitter
  • 05-16-18

Nice story, poor narration

I enjoyed the story and got involved with the characters. However my enjoyment was marred by the narration which was stilled and lacking in emotion. It's the first time I've felt let down by the narration which is disappointing as the story is engaging.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • StitchFreak
  • 06-16-18

Something to get your teeth into!

What a brilliant story! Ticks all the boxes for me, family history, sewing, nursing and characters that weave in and out throughout the story. Loved it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-29-18

Loved it

This book was a fascinating a story of people who wee so eal and interesting. The reader well she nailed it. Changed he accent and didn't do so much as blink from male to female and back again. Worth what I paid for it as it was excellent listening.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • missmitzie
  • 06-15-18

A rather confusing read

I found this story hard to follow at times as it jumped from character to character and back and forward in time. I didn't really like then ending at all.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • mary
  • 03-26-18

threads of life sewn into wonderful tale

Thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. a fascinating story, beautifully told. You are kept guessing until the last few words.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Fiona Mac Bride
  • 02-07-18

Warmth in Edinburgh's History

Where does The Sewing Machine rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best.

What did you like best about this story?

Natalie knows her subject well. All too often the role of Sewing Machines is relegated to domesticity and diffidence by non-sewing authors; Here, the machine is granted its own importance in the lives of three families. I know that Ms Fergie did months of research before starting this work. She knows her audience well and one machine detail wrongly attributed would lose her the respect of her readers. For once, we who sew have a writer who writes with knowledge and respect for our world. Her characters are good people who are just managing....normal, ordinary. You get the sweep of industrial history from 1911 Clydebank to modern-day Edinburgh with a good dose of no-nonsense NHS hospital ward management for stability.

Have you listened to any of Ruth Urquhart and Angus King ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Natalie has created warm people whom feel you know. I have read the book too. This audio production had the right balance between narrative and private musings....and I have done voice-work in the past so I know this matters. Having the book presented in dialogue was vital to its tone so praise to whomever insisted on that. There is generosity from start to finish from Ms Fergie and Ruth and Angus.

Any additional comments?

This is a book you truly go quiet for. It does your soul good and makes you proud of the women and men who worked in the past with strike action, war, war-work, the Depression, the generosity of good people, social-housing, measles epidemics, sewing, and gardening allotments.