Susan Terris Nell's Quilt

ISBN 13: 9780374454975

Nell's Quilt

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9780374454975: Nell's Quilt
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It's 1899--the last year of the old century--a time of anticipation and change. For eighteen-year-old Nell Edmonds, however, the "turn" into 1900 is an ominous and terrifying period. Nell had hoped to follow in the footsteps of Grandmother Shaw by going to college, perhaps even fighting for women's suffrage in Boston. Instead, they offer her another way to leave the farm: her cousin, Anson, has asked for her hand in marriage. At first, Nell is outraged, but then she realizes that for her parents' sake she must accept Anson's proposal.
In the months before the wedding, Nell takes refuge in making a crazy quilt from Grandmother Shaw's scrap fabrics. Never one for needlework, she surprises everyone with her new self-discipline. Yet her family and friends are worried: Nell is obsessed with creating the quilt and she seems to be retreating deep into a world of her own, where no one can help her.
Susan Terris is the author of numerous books for young readers. Her more recent novel, "The Latchkey Kids," was praised by The Voice for Youth Advocates for its "well-written, realistic dialogue and situations." Ms. Terris lives in San Francisco.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 10-12 Eighteen-year-old Nell Edmonds has no intentions of marrying the man her parents have chosen for her, widower Anson Tanner, although he's earnest and a good provider. Nell desires more from life than the traditional 1899 female lot of tedious household tasks; despite her family's financial problems, she entertains pipe dreams of college and living in Boston. Furthermore, life with Anson and his four-year-old daughter looms drab and confining compared to the amusement she enjoys with her comrade Rob. Nell can't forget, however, that her family perceives her as Nell the Good and Strong who will pursue the dreams which will make everyone happy, so she agrees to marry Anson. During her engagement, she begins an exercise in self-discipline through working a quilt from fabric scraps which she assumes are remnants of her suffragette grandmother's dresses. Nell extends the strict rules she imposes on her quilt-making to her eating habits until she is consuming virtually nothing. Her anorexic behavior reflects her suppressed desire to remain a child. She pursues physical and psychological insignificance to the point of psychosis, signified by a narrative shift from first to third person. Too debilitated to be marriageable, Nell rejects even her beloved quilt when she learns that the scraps of fabric are actually part of a kit, unrelated to her heritage. As she approaches death, the meow of a kitten rekindles Nell's will to live. This is a complex novel which demands a second reading for full appreciation. The symbolism and the complexities of Nell's personality make it fascinating and memorable. Merilyn S. Burrington, Vergennes Union High School, Vt.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Terris, the author of several acclaimed family stories, has written a book about a 19th century woman with a 20th century diseaseanorexia nervosa. Nell, 18, confronted with marriage to an attractive and convenient older suitor, cannot say no, although she wants to; she believes there are no options. But, as Nell becomes increasingly obsessed with self-control (a change that seems, at first, to fulfill the expectations of her parents and society), readers will see that it is not just marriage she resists, but motherhood and sexthe "frantic dance" of adulthood. Long after Nell has starved herself into helplessness, she still believes "I must be stricter. I must expect more." The course of her decline, in all its dramatic and paradoxical detail, is both compelling and exasperating to witness. The quilt she embroiders throughout is an ironic symbol, indeed, of her compulsion and denial. A complex, provocative work. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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