Tuesday, 4 July 2017
The Ludlow Ladies Society - Ann O'Loughlin
Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in New York, she moves to a run-down Irish mansion, hoping to heal her shattered heart and in search of answers: how could her husband do the terrible things he did? And why did he plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died, without ever telling her?
At first Connie tries to avoid the villagers, until she meets local women Eve and Hetty who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies’ Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home. Connie soon discovers Eve is also struggling with pain and the loss of having her beloved Ludlow Hall repossessed by the bank and sold off. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing everything is renewed. Can these women ever be friends? Can they ever understand or forgive?
As the Ludlow Ladies create memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface. But can Connie, Eve and Hetty stitch their lives back together?
What I thought:
Ann O'Loughlin's last book, The Judge's Wife, was one of my favourite books last year, so I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of her new release, The Ludlow Ladies Society. I didn't know if I would be disappointed after her last amazing book, but I needn't have worried - The Ludlow Ladies Society is a stunning read.
First of all, don't be fooled into thinking this book is just about the gossip from a ladies' sewing group - it is SO much more. Enriched with friendship and loyalty, it also tells of raw grief and sadness, a little shocking and uncomfortable at times, but so very compelling.
It was quite difficult for Eve Brannigan to see someone else take ownership of Ludlow Hall. She had often affectionately been called "Mrs Ludlow" and the women in her sewing group called themselves The Ludlow Ladies Society. Before her husband's suicide, their meetings were held at the Hall, but since the bailiffs moved in and she moved out, the group had struggled to find anywhere suitable for the ladies to sew their patchwork quilts.
Connie Carter, a dance teacher, seeks solitude to come to terms with her overwhelming grief. Unknowing to her, her late husband had bought Ludlow Hall, so she decides to leave everything behind in New York and she moves to the Hall in Rosdaniel, Co. Wicklow. She has no idea about the history of Ludlow Hall or of the Ludlow Ladies Society, and her arrival causes quite a stir in the village.
The Ludlow Ladies agree to make a memory quilt for an exhibition in the Town Hall. The winners will go forward to exhibit at a special event to be visited by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. It soon becomes clear that not everyone's memories are happy ones and some shocking secrets are unearthed.
I adored the endearing characters of the Ludlow Ladies Society. It's a book that is equally heartwarming and heartbreaking and delivers a shockingly, unexpected twist. A truly beautiful book to read.