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The Kitchen Linens Book: Using, Sharing, and Cherishing the Fabrics of Our Daily Lives Hardcover – March 17, 2009
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Being from the South myself, I have to tip my bonnet to EllynAnn. I felt like I was sitting in her kitchen and listening to her tell stories of her family (and others). The writing is so warm and friendly, you almost forget you are reading a book and not in her company. Additionally, I love the stories written by other women that she has woven throughout the pages. There are also tips, tricks, recipes and craft suggestion. But the heart and soul of this book, in my opinion, are the testimonies she gives about her tablecloths, napkins, dishtowels, aprons and more. Every word she writes drips with her love and admiration of the times in which the linens were made, the hard work that went into making them, and the lives their previous owners led.
To be fair, there was a disappointment. There were suggestions and ideas that she mention (like layering her linens) that sound amazing, but I could not picture how to do it (and I desperately want to know so I can recreate it) but there were no images of how this was done. It seems, considering how many lovely pictures this book contains, that there would be more pictures of the ideas she discusses.
Nevertheless, I adore this book. I am encouraged to pick up a little embroidery of my own. Maybe, a few generations from now, some woman will use my tea towel and honor my life the way EllynAnne has done for generations past.
This book is delightful and a must-have for your book collection.
Note to readers: This book was received as part of the Early Reviewer's Group on LibraryThing. My thanks to LT and the publishers for a copy of the book. This review can also be found on LT.
This book is a celebration of the everyday textiles which are taken for granted, used, abused and often thrown out. Interspersed with memories from a range of people, a few recipes and ideas for using vintage linens, this is a sweetly nostalgic trip through the author's collection, and by extension, lifestyle. If you find the thought of entertaining friends with afternoon tea, dished up on a table dressed with hand-embroidered tablecloths and linen napkins, whilst wearing a 1950's apron completely alien, this is not the book for you. However, if you are interested in a celebration of an area of handwork that is often overlooked then this may well be of interest. This is not a serious text on textile history or sociology however.
The author gives a range of ideas for making use of vintage linens of all kinds, and many memories are shared of these pieces being used and loved over generations. One minor quibble - the author describes Scottish Terriers as being an English-bred dog. I think an entire nation of Scots may be offended by that one!
There are some good things in this book - it is replete with vintage linens to some extent, and there are some good informational pages in relation to how to identify different types of vintage linens. There's also a single-use reproduction vintage pattern sheet in the back, which is a nice inclusion. Peppered throughout the book are accounts of other women and how linens connected them to their families and past.
However, I found the book incredibly frustrating. First of all, whoever did the layout really needs to go back to school - there are constantly instances throughout the book where you're reading something from the author's hand, which is then interrupted mid-sentence with a one or two-page spread by someone else, only to continue - again mid-sentence of course - several pages later. Since the book is written almost like a long essay, this becomes almost infuriatingly interruptive.
What I found equally annoying is the author's constant referral to a plethora of parties she hosts and attends - ranging from the informal get-togethers with friends to what, by her accounts, are occasions/events of high-society hobnobbing - yet there are no pictures of them anywhere in the book! Not a single picture of the author attending or hosting a party where one could actually see the supposed juxtaposition of linens she keeps claiming are her specialty.Read more ›