Paperback review: The Threads of the Heart, By Carole Martinez (trs by Howard Curtis)


Frasquita, a Spanish woman living in a small, rural village, has a talent for sewing: she is able to weave clothing into beautifully intricate designs and even uses her thread to suture wounds.

When her husband gambles away her home, she takes her children and heads to North Africa in search of a new life. Carole Martinez' novel, ably translated from the French by Howard Curtis, bears some similarities to another recent European bestseller, María Dueñas's The Seamstress, in its story of a dressmaker who travels from Spain to North Africa. The Threads of the Heart has a magical realist aspect; there is a slippery, ethereal quality to the prose, and it can be difficult for the reader to gain purchase, but the narrative boasts an epic sweep and a richness of characterisation, and the cumulative effect is impressive.