Synopsis – The novel is written from the perspective of parallel protagonists whose stories intertwine on a Pacific Northwest island – Mei Lein in the late 19th century and Inara in present day. While undertaking the restoration of an island cottage, Inara discovers a long hidden, intricately embroidered silk sleeve. As she explores its meaning, she discovers a hidden secret within her own family surrounding an unspeakable act which draws a full circle. Through Mei Lein’s voice we hear about her life in frontier Seattle, how she survived genocidal atrocities performed by Inara’s ancestors without repercussions under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and her life on a small, secluded farm during which time she artistically depicted her story through thousands and thousands of hand stitches, one silk stitch at a time so her son might know his ancestors.
This debut novel by Kelli Estes was the most recent title discussed with my library loving, book reading, wine-drinking group of retired friends dubbed The Directors. We felt it was a “readable” book although we each agreed that Mei Lein’s story was the more believable. Our next title has yet to be chosen but we are leaning toward non-fiction with a bit of oomph.