Maybelle in Stitches will have you in stitches and tears and giggles.

Deb’s Dozen: 12-Word Summary – WWII welderette, builds ships, homemaker, loss, love, from friends to family

The time is World War II – 1943; the place is Chester, Pennsylvania; the setting is the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock; the main character – Maybelle Kazinski, welderette. Yes, you read that correctly – welderette. In 1943, many women were called into action at home – filling the jobs the soldiers and sailors left behind. So Maybelle became a welderette – worked her way up from cutting bolt holes in the sheet metal to welding seams on the warships that came through their plant.

Maybelle and her best friend, Doris, both worked in the plant. Their husbands had gone off to war after a very short period of marriage – in Maybelle’s case, two weeks. She longs for her husband, Holden, as does Doris for her husband, Mickey. Doris is lucky, though; she hears from Mickey fairly frequently – at least as often as the V-mail gets through.

Maybelle, a tomboy of sorts, lives at home with her mother, Francine, who would put Betty Crocker and June Cleaver to shame. When Maybelle’s mom dies unexpectedly, Maybelle is lost – she doesn’t know how to do all those house-wifely things. Thank heavens Doris lives just down the street, and their boarder, Roger, is handy in the kitchen and as a scrounger, too.
Cleaning out her mother’s things, Maybelle runs across a quilt her mom has started – piecing together materials from Maybelle’s past – her baby blanket and other memorable bits of cloth. Doris has the inspiration that they should finish the quilt – despite the fact that Maybelle can’t sew.

How the girls manage without their spouses, manage without Francine to guide them in the house or on the quilt, and how the war affects them with its effects, is a touching and wonderful story. I smiled in sympathy at Maybelle’s ineptness in the kitchen, cried when Francine died, giggled at the antics of their dog, and wanted to quilt along as they progressed. You’ll love this story of the gals left behind during World War II and how they coped – sometimes brilliantly, sometimes in spite of themselves.

Joyce Magnin has written several books including The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, which was named one of the “Top 5 Best Christing Fiction Books of 2009” by Library Journal. Joyce is mom to three children, has one grandson, and mothers a neurotic parakeet.

I was given a copy of Maybelle in Stitches by Abingdon Press for my unbiased review.

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