Sidonia’s Thread: The Secrets of a Mother and Daughter Sewing a New Life in America is a memoir about the lives of two women, a mother and daughter, who come to Springfield, Massachusetts on their own after World War II to build a new life. With no other family, except each other, they build a world that revolves around the mother’s remarkable talent as fashion designer and seamstress while the daughter serves as her dutiful model.
Sidonia’s Thread uses sewing metaphors to tell the tale of these two women with chapter titles such as “Hooks and Eyes,” “Concealed Button Loop,” “Cutting,” “Interfacing,” and “Thread and Needle.” In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Sidonia and Hanna are inseparable in their roles as fashion designer and model, yet isolated in their own thoughts and inability to share the secrets that permeate their life together. Curious to finally unearth the secrets her mother is unable to reveal, Hanna steals and closely studies her mother’s old letters and photographs, determined to find the secret of her paternity, the reasons for her mother’s reclusive behavior, and clues to her heritage. Combined with a trip to Sidonia’s Hungarian homeland and a singular conversation with her father, Hanna’s surprising discoveries inspire a revised view of their life together, at last replacing her conflicting emotions toward her mother with true reverence.
This poignant, unique memoir was a recent nominee for the 2013 Sophie Brody Medal for “Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Literature” by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association and cited as a “Book of Note” by the Jewish Book Council.
Sidonia’s Thread is now available as an e-book. Press the Amazon button to find out more!
Did you and your parent ever keep a secret that lasted a lifetime?
“I believe the book tells a compelling story of a single woman and her infant daughter who come to the United States from a DP camp after the Holocaust. Framed within Sidonia’s experience as a very successful self-taught seamstress, the book reveals a complex yet compassionate woman whose daughter slowly discovers the details of her mother’s painful life story. “Sidonia’s Thread” is an important story for women, Jews, mothers, daughters, and anyone who is intrigued by history, fashion, the workings of the human psyche, and the power of a creative life based in handiwork.”
– Lisa Oram, Words for the Wise
” ‘Sidonia’s Thread’ is the unraveling and telling of one woman’s remarkable survival. It is a highly readable story that is not to be missed. ‘Sidonia’s Thread’ is one of those books that the reader will not be able to put down until the last word is read and the book put aside. The writing is superb and the characters spring to life in the book’s pages…” Click here to see the full review.
-Alice D. for Reader’s Favorite
“As a memoir ‘Sidonia’s Thread’ is a tapestry woven from stories of the Holocaust, coming-of-age, mothers and daughters, unclear identity, and secrets–the key threads of many woven around the basic imagery of Sidonia as a seamstress…” Click here to see the full review.
-Judy Alter for Story Circle Book Reviews
“The resolution of the mystery and the interesting manner in which the book is written with chapters titled after sewing themes… make this work not only interesting reading about the lives of two extraordinary women, but one more important testimony to how lives were indelibly affected by World War II…”
-Michlean Amir, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for the Association of Jewish Libraries
“…In a memoir of her mother’s life, Hanna Perlstein Marcus crafts a story of a woman who kept certain aspects of her life secret, like the hidden seams in the beautifully tailored clothes she made, but created a beautiful life for herself and her daughter in the new world to which they immigrated…Yet while Sidonia never kept secrets from Hanna about her Holocaust experiences or about her early life in Damoc, Hungary, one huge secret lay between them. Who was Hanna’s father?…”
-Andrea Kempf, Book Reviewer and Professor Librarian Emeritus, for the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
Discussion Points for Sidonia’s Thread
- What are the themes of Sidonia’s Thread?
- Was the use of sewing metaphors an effective way to tell the story? What other metaphors did you find?
- How did you feel about the Hungarian villagers’ reaction to Sidonia, Hanna, and Brenda’s visit? What other ways could Hanna have viewed their actions during wartime?
- Have you ever experienced a community like “di grine?”
- How do you feel about sewing as a creative process? Why do you think Sidonia never taught Hanna to sew?
- If you experienced a loved one with dementia in your life, what approach did you use in your interaction?
- If you were Hanna, when you uncovered Sidonia’s secrets, would you have revealed that to her?
- How did you feel about Hanna’s reaction to the revealing letter about her father? Could she have reacted differently?
- Why was Sidonia able to reveal her wartime experiences but not her life in a displaced persons camp?
- How would Sidonia feel about Sidonia’s Thread if she were alive today?