Friendship Album, 1933 (Audio)
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