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The Persian Pickle Club Hardcover – October, 1995

231 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This entertaining second novel from the author of the well-received Buster Midnight's Cafe could be a sleeper. Set in Depression-era Kansas and made vivid with the narrator's humorous down-home voice, it's a story of loyalty and friendship in a women's quilting circle. Young farm wife Queenie Bean tells about the brief membership of a city girl named Rita, whose boredom with country living and aspirations to be an investigative reporter lead her to unearth secrets in the close-knit group, called the Persian Pickle Club after a coveted paisley print. Queenie's desire to win Rita's friendship ("We were chickens... and Rita was a hummingbird") clashes with her loyalty to the Pickles when Rita tries to solve the murder of a member's husband, in the process unearthing complicated relationships among the women who meet each week to quilt and read aloud to each other. The result is a simple but endearing story that depicts small-town eccentricities with affection and adds dazzle with some late-breaking surprises. Dallas hits all the right notes, combining an authentic look at the social fabric of Depression-era life with a homespun suspense story. Film rights to Norman Twain Productions; Literary Guild alternate selection.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hard times in Depression-era Harveyville, Kansas, are softened by the conviviality of a weekly quilting circle called the Persian Pickle Club. Queenie Bean, the "talkingest" member of the group, narrates the novel with snappy style. Over the course of a year, during which the club experiences more sorrow than sewing, Queenie and her pals depend on one another more than ever. When Queenie forms a fast friendship with the newest "Pickle," a flashy, big-city gal named Rita, the equilibrium of the group changes, for Rita is a novice newspaper reporter intent on making a name for herself. The story Rita most wants to crack involves the mysterious death of one of the club ladies' husbands. Will secrets long stitched into the collective fabric of friendship hold? This and other suspenseful questions of small-town life will entertain readers who enjoyed Fannie Flag's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Random, 1987), Olive Ann Burns's Cold Sassy Tree (LJ 10/15/84), or Dallas's first novel, Buster Midnight's Cafe (LJ 4/15/90).?Keddy Ann Outlaw, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312135866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312135867
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Prize-winning author Sandra Dallas was dubbed "a quintessential American voice" by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. Sandra's novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff member for twenty-five years (and the magazine's first female bureau chief,) she covered the Rocky Mountain region, writing about everything from penny-stock scandals to hard-rock mining, western energy development to contemporary polygamy. Many of her experiences have been incorporated into her novels.

While a reporter, she began writing the first of ten nonfiction books. They include Sacred Paint, which won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Wrangler Award, and The Quilt That Walked to Golden, recipient of the Independent Publishers Assn. Benjamin Franklin Award.

Turning to fiction in 1990, Sandra has published nine novels, including Whiter Than Snow, and the New York Times best seller Prayers for Sale. Sandra is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award for New Mercies, and two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award, for The Chili Queen and Tallgrass. In addition, she was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Assn. Award, and a four-time finalist for the Women Writing the West Willa Award.

The mother of two daughters--Dana is an attorney in New Orleans and Povy is a photographer in Golden, Colorado--Sandra lives in Denver with her husband, Bob.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Meg Brunner on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked this novel up right after finishing Dallas' "The Diary of Mattie Spenser" (my first experience with Dallas -- loved it!). So, I was extremely happy to discover that Persian Pickle is even BETTER than "D of M S"! This one is set in a small rural Kansas town during the Depression, where a close-knit community is struggling against the hard times together. The women are particularly close as they all belong to a quilting club they call "The Persian Pickle Club" (I'll let you read the book to find out what a "persian pickle" is). Their quiet town is shaken up a little when the son of one of the local farmers returns, bringing his fiery new wife Rita with him. Rita aspires to be a journalist so she can get a job in the city (she hates farming) and when the bones of a man are found buried in a field, she jumps at the chance to get the scoop. Her investigation, however, brings her dangerously close to a secret the Pickles (who by this time have come to adore Rita and have made her a member of the club despite the fact she's wretched at quilting) have sworn to keep. She eventually has to decide whether her loyalties lie with her career goals or with her new friends. The characters in this story are wonderful (in fact, the narrator of this one, Queenie Bean, reminded me a lot of Mattie Spenser, which is a good thing) and by the end I was actually very envious of their friendships and their community (born too late). I highly, highly recommend this and can't wait to read the one remaining Dallas novel I haven't gotten to yet (forgot the title). I'm thinking I'll save it, though, as her next book isn't due out until October, 2000.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Gina Harader on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
A truly serendipitous find. Initially attracted by the book's title, I could not tear myself away until I had finished reading it. I often think that the best books are those that transcend/defy genre classification, and 'The Persian Pickle Club'certainly does this, with its assorted elements of fictional slice-of-life tale, mystery, comedy, tragedy, and philosophical questioning of the fundamental nature of right and wrong.
Set in a small town in Depression-era Kansas, the novel's plot revolves around the lives and relationships of the members of a multi-generational women's quilting group. Through Ms. Dallas' deft handling of language, character development and detail, the reader is transported to this other time and place as these wonderful women support one another in facing life's various joys and curveballs -- friendship, love, marriage, infertility, death, economic difficulties, etc. And, if all of the foregoing were not enough, there is an intriguing murder mystery thrown in, the resolution of which underscores the very special nature of friendship between women.
My only regret is that this book had to end. Don't delay -- read it soon, and pass it on. Like a good friendship, it is something to be savored and shared.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By James Butler on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
My grandparents and great-grandparents, the Butlers and the Fouts, owned farms probably on the exact land Sandra Dallas places her story. I spent many a summer break helping out on the farm. The pickle club so matches the politeness, rhythm, dialect, and pace of my grandmother's and the extended families' speech that I cried at the rememberences. The stories "Bean", as my grandfather was known (omigosh, "Queenie Bean" a coincidence?), and my father told me of growing up in the depression echoed the sincere care, concern, and poverty-stricken generosity neighbors shared during that time.
How the ladies treated Rita and strangers is exactly the way my great-aunts would act. Even the phrases of speech must be verbatim remembrances from Ms. Dallas' research. Knowing my relatives from the depression generation, the solution to the mystery is quite conceivable.
The story was a pleasant read but obviously I saw nuances in it that the normal reader cannot appreciate. Trust me, Sandra has done an awesome job of describing the people and the period in the flint hills area outside Topeka. One should read this book to truly understand our mid-American heritage and character. The plot is just a vehicle to get to that knowledge.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By HeyJudy VINE VOICE on December 15, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a hook, the title is sufficiently intriguing to entice readers to this book. The "Persian Pickle" is Kansas jargon for the paisley pattern; a piece of paisley fabric is cherished there by a group of women who regularly get together to make quilts, just as their mothers had done before them and they expect their own daughters to do in turn. This is a short book dense with emotion and import. The characterizations are excellent and the writing is lyrical. The Pickle ladies do more than quilt, of course, they comfort and support one another through all of life's vageries. Since the story is set during the Depression, there are plenty of tough times for them to rise above and, in fact, they accept those hardships with grace. When the bride of a local farmer's son joins them, their insularity and unthinking acceptance of their community's rhythms gets held up for examination through her far more worldly eyes. The picture painted by Sandra Dallas is a detailed one of life on the prairie at the beginning of modern times. The women are real enough to feel like a reader's friends, and the book--and the relationship--ends much too quickly. But the story has been told, the secret the ladies shared revealed. In the greatest tribute to any author, the tale lingers on in the mind of her reader. And in the process, Dallas' readers even learn quite a bit about the fine art of quilting!
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