Welcome home to Milton Falls, Ohio…

The idea for Friendship Album, 1933, came to me after reading Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World Fair: The Sears National Quilt Contest and Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition by quilt historians Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman. With its $1,000 grand prize (nearly $20,000 in today’s dollars), the Sears National Quilt Contest inspired a lot of women to enter the competition. Five such women make up Friendship Album’s circle of quilters. They all make plans to enter, although for different reasons — and not all of them to do with the prize-money.

  • Eula, whose family has been forced by hard times to leave the farm and move into town, where she doesn’t know a soul and is pretty sure she’ll never fit in…
  • Bess, a widow of one year, who shows up at the first meeting as a way of avoiding duty on her church’s altar guild and her neighbors’ constant condolences…
  • Dorothy, a woman trying hard to keep peace in her home and her sewing scissors away from the lively young grandchildren who’ve just moved in…
  • Then there’s the bee’s youngest member, Florence, living the life of a bored socialite after being jilted by her fiancé. Can starting her own quilt business turn her life around?
  • And, finally, Florence’s sister-in-law, Emmeline, who’s fresh out of material for her weekly quilting column and hopes to find inspiration in this odd collection of quilters.

When I got a few hundred pages into the Friendship Album, 1933, I decided to try something new. You are witnessing the results right here — a podcast reading of the first draft of a novel as it developed, combined with blog posts highlighting the research materials supporting the writing. Listeners and readers were also invited to weigh in on the story, creating a realtime conversation between writer and reader. Along the way, we formed a little community of people who cared about Eula, Bess, Dorothy, Florence, and — yes — even Emmeline. Although the draft of the novel is finished and the first season of the podcast is “in the can,” new listeners are coming on board every day. Won’t you consider joining the conversation? Become a part of our closed Facebook Group, The Quilt Fiction Club, or sign up for our occasional newsletter on the Contact Page for updates. —Frances O’Roark Dowell

Comments

  1. Wanted to let you know I really enjoy your podcast and listening to the Friendship Album 1933. I travel a ways to work and back and listening to the story helps shorten my travel time. Now I plan on making a 1933 quilt. Haven’t decided which one yet, have a few UFO’s to finish up first. I have some vintage sheet Fabric that I plan on using for a quilt. A vintage quilt pattern will be perfect for the sheet fabric.

  2. Your writing and reading are totally enjoyable! I’m so pleased to have come across your QuiltFiction podcast – it is wonderful! Thank you! I’ve been mending while listening – a totally delightful time!

  3. I have listened to the first 3 episodes and am hooked. I am enjoying the story and the reading of it. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for your story . The podcast is wonderful . Your voice is amazing and I can’t get enough . I quilt along with your reading . Again thank you .

  5. Just discovered this site. I’m on the 5th episode. Love your story so much! I listen as I quilt along. Thanks so much!

  6. Just discovered your site. I’m on the 5th episode and loving it so much. I am quilting along as I listen. Love the characters! Thanks so much.

  7. I really love this! You are a wonderful story teller .. I hope this story never ends … Thank you Francis !

    Eileen

  8. Love this story. Listen from iTunes. Each time an episode drops, I relisten to at least 2-3 just before it…keeps me remembering, and gives me more to listen to.

  9. I was at a bee meeting and one of my friends told me about this wonderful site. It is so much fun to listen to you read this story and do my quilting at the same time. I listened to episode one and am hooked, but I can’t seem to get past episode one, It’s kind of on a loop and keeps replaying. Is there something I’m supposed to do? I’m listening to this on my PC.

  10. I am loving this audio! The story is so heartwarming and this is one of my favorite time periods. You bring the characters to life with delightful details. Thank you!

  11. I have been planning to listen to your audio book since I saw it on Hand Pieced Quilt Along, but kept forgetting to turn it on. Today I remembered, and was so delighted with this story! I was working on my block and was so lost in the story that I didn’t realize 2 hours had passed and I was almost done with my block! Thank you! Hooked! 🙂

  12. Frances, I heard about your Friendship Album on Quiltingboard.com. I have loved listening to EVERY episode. You are a WONDERFUL author, AND your voice is just PERFECT being the reader! I wanted to let you know that because you praised the book Soft Covers for Hard Times so much, I immediately looked on Amazon and ordered it (used obviously). It IS a very nice book, even just for the pictures, as you had said. Thank you for your wonderful stories , and the way you read them. They make my day!
    Shelley in Colorado!

  13. My sister just introduced me to the Friendship Album a few days ago and I am hooked. I love the characters and all the fine details that you weave into the tale. I have been binge listening and hope you keep the story going for a long time yet.

  14. Heard about your podcast on While She Naps. I am loving the story and you writing is great. I feel like I am right there in the Bee.
    Ii will be looking for your other books, but would love to hear them from you.

  15. I loved this old cast. I hope there will be more soon. I felt like part of a quilt group with my friends.

  16. I’m on Episode 30 and I can’t stop! I LOVE this. And you are reading it TO ME! Thank you so much for this!

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