May Flaum is here with her review of the newest fiction from Kathy Cano-Murillo, Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing. Take a look at May’s blog (she does some amazing scrapbooking) and enjoy her review.
Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing is out today, March 8th. You can check out the book trailer, enter to win some fabulous prizes in Kathy’s Crafty Chica Book Launch Sweepstakes and visit CraftyChica.com for book blog tour details.
The story follows Scarlet Santana, who has a wildly popular sewing blog. Her hometown and family don’t give her an ounce of respect for it and she struggles to make it big in order to prove them wrong. The story is sprinkled with influences from Carmen Miranda (who was a diehard crafter/painter/designer before getting famous), Willy Wonka/Charlie Bucket, and Enid Collins (the pursemaker from the 60s!).
Vibrant, colorful, and always looking for a reason to celebrate life is how I’d describe both the crafting and writing style of Kathy Cano-Murillo. As a professional crafter and writer she writes stories that are both beautiful and that have crafting sewn through the pages. Her new novel Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing was a delight and a pleasure to read. As a very novice sewer who has more luck with winging it (vs. patterns) I was intrigued by the premise, and delighted that I found not only a good story, but colorful descriptions and ideas that had my head filled with new crafty ideas.
When we meet Scarlet Santana, she stands on the brink of getting everything she thinks she ever wanted. She has been working her tail off for a high profile designer for two years, and has been accepted into a prestigious aspiring designer program at the company her fashion idol started. Her big break is about to arrive! The problem, of course, is that what she thinks she wants, and what will bring true happiness may just be two entirely separate things.
As Kathy Cano-Murillo’s novel unfolds, we meet a cast of characters from young to old that are all tied together by Miss Scarlet, and her patternless sewing class. This novel is primarily about Scarlet’s journey as she teaches the patternless class, meets new friends, and counts down the days until she’s at the aspiring designer program.
I appreciate that Kathy writes from her heart, and that everything isn’t picture perfect. Scarlet had to fight against a family that was both degrading and underestimating her value, and that placed far too high a value on a high paying job. I couldn’t quite buy into the resolution with her family, but the tension and drama felt plausible. Indeed, one of my chief complaints with this novel would be that some things in the story get taken care of in ways I found hard to believe.
There are several plot lines and details within the book I had a hard time believing, but for the most part this did not detract from my overall enjoyment. A rather slow beginning is really the only other fault I give this book. By the time I hit page sixty, I was hooked into the tale of the vibrant Scarlet and her world. While she still has some life lessons to sort out, our Miss Scarlet is the kind of woman I’d like to spend time with. Not only does she embrace her own life to the fullest, but she also strives to help others however she can. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite scenes: “Scarlet got up and knelt at Mary Teresa’s side. ‘Have you ever heard the phrase, Some people grin and bear it, others smile and do it? Perfection is a state of mind, darling.’”
I found the positive messages and reminders in the book, as well as the strong female characters to be both refreshing and a treat. Sure they can sew, some enjoy crafting in general, and some are wonderful cooks too-– but that’s just part of who each of the ladies in this book is. When I turned the last page I found myself sad to have to leave the Arizona world of Miss Scarlet and her friends. I truly didn’t want it to end.
The book has a little bit of mystery surrounding Scarlet’s fashion hero Daisy, two (rather predictable) villains out to do harm to our heroine, some fun sewing scenes, and even a touch of romance within it’s pages. I would recommend this to both sewing enthusiasts and non-crafters as well. It’s a delightful read full of hope and positive messages.
Kathy Cano-Murillo has a very distinctive voice as an author, and I look forward to see what story she will dream up next.