Historical Fiction: Hearts and Bones

I recently read Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence, on the recommendations made by one of my book groups. I enjoyed it as an historical mystery (a murder mystery investigated by a talented midwife), but I do have one important problem with the novel as a whole. Ordinarily, I do not post unfavorable reviews on my blog, but I feel that this issue merits mentioning. Much is made of protagonist Hannah, as well as some of the other women characters, as being patchwork quilters. The problem is, the time frame of this story is late 18th century America. Most textile authorities agree that patchwork as a quilting form did not begin in this country until around 1820, when printed fabrics were becoming available and affordable to the masses due to industrialization. Ordinarily, I’d regard this as a small flaw, but in this book, it’s a pretty important theme. The image of women in the wilderness doing patchwork is a myth mistakenly disseminated during the Colonial Revival era around the turn of the 20th century. A flaw of this magnitude serves unfortunately as a distraction and mars the quality of the reading experience for those looking for historical authenticity

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