The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

Heather Barbieri‘s The Lace Makers of Glenmara is set in Ireland as the main character, Kate Robinson, leaves her life in the United States to take the journey to her ancestral lands that she was supposed to take with her mother.   She leaves her home after failing to make it with her own clothing line and the break-up of her relationship with Ethan.  After a rough journey in the rainy countryside, Kate happens upon the small village of Glenmara and its quirky residents from motherly widow Bernice to abrasive Aileen.

“Everyone had been so sure she and Ethan would get married, that she would catch the bouquet at the medieval wedding they attended that March (the couple being devoted not only to each other but to the Society for Creative Anachronism), the event at which he left her, if not at the altar, just southwest of it, next to an ice sculpture of a knight in shining armor that had begun to melt, a moat of water at his feet, his sword soon no more than a toothpick.”  (Page 6)

Switching between points of view, Kate’s perspective is rounded out by the narration of William the traveler, Aileen, and Bernie.  Readers will be drawn into the stories of Kate and her friends as they search for peace and acceptance among themselves and others. Each of these women deals with not only sorrow and loss, but also shaken confidence.

“‘Like Colleen said, mistakes aren’t necessarily a problem,’ Bernie told her.  ‘Sometimes they lead you in a different direction.  Who says you always need to follow the rules?  Breaking the pattern can be the very best thing, even though it can be scary at first.'”  (Page 91)

Barbieri creates a cast of characters as tumultuous as the weather and diverse as the scenery of Ireland.  Kate is broken, and many of the other characters are broken as well.  It takes lace making and camaraderie to heal.  Glenmara, unfortunately, is a town in the middle of nowhere where religion is more than a passing moment on Sundays.  Can these women overcome their own fears and rekindle the beauty within themselves?

The prologue to the novel, however, that outlines what you need to sew and draws parallels between sewing and life changes is a bit overwrought, especially when Kate becomes part of the lace making guild.  Readers are likely to draw those parallels on their own without shining a bright light on it.

Meanwhile, the evolution of these characters and what they cultivate through their friendships is an amazing transformation for these women that will leave readers wondering what relationships in their lives have transformed them.  Barbieri’s writing is captivating and will pull readers into the Irish countryside.  An emotional evolution for the characters and readers set against the backdrop of beautiful Irish hills and cliffs.  Be ready to jump off and join them.

Check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour stops.

About the Author

Heather Barbieri is half-Irish. Her paternal ancestors left counties Donegal and Tipperary  after The Great Famine and worked in the coal mines of Eastern Pennsylvania before settling in Butte, Montana. Her impeccably dressed maternal grandmother was a descendant of a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and instilled an avid interest in fashion in her granddaughters. Barbieri’s first novel, Snow in July (Soho Press), was selected as a Book Sense Pick, a Glamour magazine “Riveting Read,” and a Library Journal Notable First Novel. Before turning to writing fiction full-time, she was a magazine editor, journalist, and film critic. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and three children, and is currently working on her third novel.

Also check her out on Facebook.

This is my 3rd book for the Ireland Reading Challenge.

This is my 36th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.


  1. I love books set in Ireland – this one sounds good! Off to put it on the wish list!

  2. This one sounds good, but it also sounds like I might not make it past the prologue.

  3. bookworm says

    This one sounds like a good read. The writing sounds great, especially the setting.
    Great review Serena 🙂

  4. I liked your review on this book and the quotes you provided, and think it would be great to visit Ireland one day and get to see the beauty and greenness of the hillsides mentioned in the book. I am glad you liked this one!

  5. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while now. I like arts like lace making. I think I’ll definitely give it a try. It’s a shame about not letting the reader draw her own conclusions, but it’s forgivable. 🙂

    • I enjoyed the book and it was a good read. I didn’t mind the fast-paced romance. The symbolism and tie-in with the lace making was overdone, but not enough to make me stop reading.

  6. Nicely written review! You had some wonderful lines in there (of your own) as well as from the book. I don’t think this is quite a good fit for me but I’ve seen it around quite a few blogs and most people seem to enjoy it.

  7. A few other bloggers have mentioned that the symbolism is a bit overdone, but it still sounds like a fun read. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  8. CelticLady says

    I am also in the Irish Challenge but I have not read this book…it does sound interesting…great review!!!

  9. This book was a winner for me…loved everything about it, most especially the lace making!

  10. Beth Hoffman says

    I’ve always enjoyed stories where emotional evolution(s) take place. I while back I added this to my TBR list and I hope to read it soon. Great review, Serena!

  11. Quirky Irish villages are a great place to find yourself…I would imagine; I’ve never been to Ireland but I’ve read so many books set there that I’m sure I’m right with that statement. 🙂 Sounds like a good read!

  12. I love great characters and stories set in Ireland, so I think this book sounds fantastic!

  13. I’ll be reading this tomorrow. I’m bringing it on the camping trip. Can’t wait, as I love books set in Ireland and I love crafting. Glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Sounds like a good book club pick and a cozy read. And something that might make me want to learn to make lace! Great review – I’m going to keep my eyes open and see if it compells me to own it!

  15. I really enjoyed this one, too! I linked your review on the Ireland Challenge page.

    • Thanks for linking to my review. I may end up with other Irish books that I had no idea were in my piles. LOL

  16. I love books set in Ireland. Have read quite a few. This one needs to be added to my list. Have you read Rutherford’s The Princes of Ireland? Really good. Still need to get the continuation, The Rebels of Ireland.

  17. I really enjoyed this book. I read it a while back and for me it’s one of those comfort reads. I read it with my book club and many of them had complaints about the book but for the most part I just liked it. There were a few things I would have changed such as it maybe being longer and more fleshed out but that’s about it.


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