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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Quilt of Souls is a memoir written by Phyllis Lawson. The author was just four years old when she was sent to live with her grandparents in Livingston, Alabama. She had no idea what was happening. One minute, her older sister was attempting to put the ribbons she always despised in her hair; the next, she was in the back seat of a car with two huge men sitting on either side of her and more strange adults in the front seat. It was a long trip from Detroit, where she had always lived, and the trip seemed to go on forever. When they finally got to Livingston, they turned onto a dirt road that went on and on, and stopped in front of a farm house. Lawson stepped out onto the soft Alabama sand and wondered where she was -- then her grandmother Lula came out and looked at her with those gray-blue eyes, and gave her a hug, and somehow she knew it was all going to be all right.
I cannot recommend Phyllis Lawson’s memoir, Quilt of Souls, highly enough. This beautifully written story is one of the most profound and memorable literary works that I've had the privilege of reading in an awfully long time. I loved hearing Grandma Lula’s stories as she and her granddaughter worked on the quilts, and marvelled at the idyllic life the three of them had for those wonderful and formative years while Lawson was being raised by her grandparents. The stories -- oh, the stories -- they are simply marvelous! And not just those momentous stories of departed family and friends told by Grandma Lula to her granddaughter as she lovingly fingers pieces of fabric, which are, in themselves, living history and oh, so very precious. But also those told by the author herself -- stories that are threaded so neatly in along with her grandmother’s historical tapestry. Those tales of her listening in on her grandmother, Miss Honey Bee and the other formidable women of their circle, her remembrances of her grandma walking her to school in the mornings, and the laughter and trips into town she shared with her Grandpa Edgar are all marvelous.
Lawson calls her grandmother a gifted storyteller and, indeed, this work proves that the gift has been passed on and still thrives. What a memorable read this is! Quilt of Souls had me entranced as I read. I forgot the everyday world and lived for a while on that farm surrounded by woods and in the company of some unforgettable people. This moving and very impressive memoir is most highly recommended.