Marti’s Review of Sidonia’s Thread

By - Hanna Perlstein Marcus
April 26, 2024

I recently came across this review of my first book, Sidonia’s Thread, written a few years ago by blogger Marti of “What Has Been Read Cannot Be Unread.” It’s insightful yet a bit tongue-in-cheek:

I don’t often read memoirs of the middle class and unfamous. Actually, I don’t usually read memoirs of the celebrated rich and famous either. I figure most memoirs are self-serving examples of revisionist history. But I downloaded this one maybe because it had to do with sewing. Being a fiber chick myself, I guess I figured I would give it a try.

It is written by the daughter of a Hungarian Jewish woman, The woman and her entire family were herded out of their small town in Hungary…[during] WWII, and ended up in three different extermination camps…She was with her sister for a while, but the sister died of malnutrition, typhoid, and exhaustion. The rest of the family had totally disappeared and were never heard from again. After the camps were liberated, she ended up in a displaced persons camp…The woman, Sidonia, had a daughter while in the camp, and she and her daughter were eventually placed in Springfield, Mass. where they began their new lives.

Being not terribly well educated, SIdonia’s only skill was sewing, and she was really a crackerjack at it. She did home sewing for a couple years while looking for work, and eventually got a job in a factory, where she worked, moving up to foreman.

It is beautifully and movingly told by her daughter, all about their lives and their sometimes rocky relationship. Sidonia was extremely private, and although loving, not terribly demonstrative. But she was a fabulous seamstress, and her daugher Hanna served as her model. It was not until Hanna was well into adulthood that she finally learned who her father was, because her mother refused to talk about it, so this thread runs through the story. Through her childhood, Sidonia would tell Hanna stories about her life in Hungary, and the events of the Holocaust.

Sidonia was given a big book of sewing, the 1967 edition of the Coats & Clark Sewing Book, by a grateful customer. She cherished it always and it was among her possessions when she died. Hanna starts each chapter with a quote from the book…such as Interfacing, True Bias, Lining, Marking, Back Stitch, etc. The thread in the title is Sidonia’s vision for her daughter’s future.

It was a loving tribute to her mother, and a way to bring together the many threads of her life. I was really glad I read it. I do admit to a sniffle or two throughout. Allergies, probably. Yeah. You know, the dust in the air.


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