by: Cathy Lamb
Kensington Books New York, NY 2013
Cathy Lamb writes novels about women who have been in abusive relationships. Their stories are told as they overcome the odds, struggling to find their strength and build new lives. This novel is not an exception to the rule.
The center of the story is a lingerie company Lace, Satin and Baubles. The main character Meggie O’Rourke is returning home at the request of her grandmother and sisters because the business is in trouble. So is Meggie.
She left the family business, started by her immigrant grandmother, to pursue film making. She became a noted documentary film maker. She also met another filmmaker and they became involved. The twist on many of Lamb’s novels is that Meggie’s new husband is struggling with manic depression. He’s been fighting his mental illness since childhood, but neglected to mention the problem to Meggie before their wedding.
We learn about that relationship in bits and pieces as Meggie works to rebuild herself and the business. She is inspired to use her documentary film making skills to tell the stories of the employees of the company. Many of these women have been with Lace, Satin and Baubles since their 20’s and continue to work into their 60’s and 70’s. They all have stories, many of them expressing gratitude to Meggie’s grandmother for helping them get out of difficult relationship circumstances themselves.
We all know the fashion industry hires overseas workers and this lingerie company is no exception. Still the theme of providing a safe place for women to become independent carries through even in the third world. The manager of the oversea’s plant is a spitfire. She’s clearly proud of the fact that she left her abusive husband and is happy to show off her “war wounds” across the Skype.
Even Grandma has a story to tell. She’s kept her secrets all these years. In its final scenes Meggie’s work brings this story full circle. This novel is a tear jerker, but you are never sure if you are crying in sorrow or in joy for what these women accomplish.