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Dear White Women

Oct 11, 2022

Have you ever had your eyes glaze over when someone hands you a history textbook or walks you through a museum full of facts and dates?  But then you hate yourself because you are smart and yet don’t feel like you *know* things?  I’ve been that person (it’s Sara here) - which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to share this conversation with the authors of a fabulous historical fiction novel that taught me SO MUCH about American history and the Civil War in particular.  We learned so much in reading this book, in particular about experiences that were never taught in school, or were glossed over in favor of a simpler narrative. 


The book is The Thread Collectors - go get it from our page for the Dear White Women podcast - and it was written by two friends, a Black woman, and a White Jewish woman.  Think about how much weight there is just in that partnership alone.


This conversation takes us deep into belonging, the lessons we learn from history that are SO relevant today, and the hope we all still have for where we can go from here.


What to listen for: 

  • Where the authors, who weave a graceful tale of hope through war, find inspiration and hope today 
  • How the authors’ own family histories inspired their characters, writing, and perspectives
  • The authors explain their opening epigraph, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you should know where you came from,” how they selected the stories and histories they featured, and why understanding this history is relevant to where we are in society now
  • What it was like, and what it took, for a Black woman and a White Jewish woman to write a novel together about the Civil War

About the book: THE THREAD COLLECTORS is set in 1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier, and a brilliant musician.  Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him. As the two women risk everything for love and freedom during a brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS: ALYSON RICHMAN is the USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of several historical novels, including The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, and The Lost Wife, which is currently in development for a major motion picture. Alyson graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She is an accomplished painter and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel. Alyson's novels have been published in twenty-five languages and have reached bestseller lists both in the United States and abroad. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, where she is currently at work on her next novel. Find her on Instagram, @alysonrichman. 


SHAUNNA J. EDWARDS has a BA in literature from Harvard College and a JD from NYU School of Law. A former corporate lawyer, she now works in diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is a native Louisianian, raised in New Orleans, and currently lives in Harlem with her husband. The Thread Collectors is her first novel. Find her on Instagram, @shaunnajedwards.