Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Tapestry’ by Beth Duke organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours, which has just been announced as an award winning finalist in the Woman’s Fiction category of the 2020 International Book Awards. Congratulations to the author, and thank you for this beautiful book that was a delight to read, and I hope that you will check out both the author and book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
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.
This book is a must-read for fans of Fannie Flagg, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Rebecca Wells.
Tapestry was a step outside of my usual genres, and it’s one I’m glad that I took as this beautifully woven tapestry of a story was one that gripped me from start to finish. I also have to say that I adore the cover, and it was the first thing (but not the last) that caught my attention about this book.
This is a book that is very strong in themes, from the search for identity that stretches throughout the story, and across history, cultures and biology – something that is very relatable to anyone trying to find themselves. Family, in all it’s complicated messiness, from secrets to arguments, to acknowledging and supporting one another, which was central to the entire story and captured the essence of those relationships perfectly. The exploration of the history of the slave trade in the state was another central pillar of the book and added a fascinating if solemn aspect of the plot and I enjoyed how the search for truth and identity, also meant confronting sometimes painful and uncomfortable parts of the past. I felt that it was handled beautifully, with no shying away from it, which made for a very moving part of the narrative.
Beneath the themes and history, it was really the characters that stood out for in this book. Skye was a fantastic protagonist, and her narration is very relatable and human. I think that is primarily due to her searching for answers and her relationships with the people around her because there is a realism and emotional depth to her POV that pulls you in and is so easy to emphasize with. However, it is her grandmother, Sparrow that really caught me, from her idiosyncrasies to her heart, and love for her family, that you can feel spilling out into the rest of the book and the other characters. The rest of the cast are all wonderfully written and developed throughout the book. Another character that I must mention is Kara Darling, whose sections had a different tone to the rest of the book and it took me a little while to warm to her, perhaps because she is the quintessential villain. However, she is also one of those characters that you love to hate, and she added an excellent counter tone to the other characters, and once I had got used to shift, I looked forward to her scenes.
I am not familiar with the Southern states or Alabama beyond what I have seen in media, studied in history, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the representation. However, what I can say is that the author creates a wonderful sense of place, creating a vivid, believable setting for this story. I enjoyed the references to locations, traditions and local knowledge that grounded the book in reality, and really pulled me into the place as much as the story.
Tapestry isn’t a book that will be forgotten in a hurry. It’s one of those that wraps itself around you and lingers, from the narrative to the characters and setting, this is a beautifully written story that carries so much emotion and was a pleasure to read.
About the Author:
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!
Tapestry – Beth Duke (Published in paperback, digital and audio formats by The Art of Dixie on 8th February 2020) – **** (4/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this beautiful book.