Book Club Gold: Letters from a Patchwork Quilt by Clare Flynn #GreatReads #bookclubgold

By | April 8, 2017

Ready for the next one? This time it’s Letters from a Patchwork Quilt by Clare Flynn.

In 1875 a young man, Jack Brennan, from a large and impoverished Catholic family, refuses to be pushed into the priesthood and runs away to become a teacher.

Jack falls in love with Eliza Hewlett, but his dreams and plans are thwarted when his landlord’s daughter, Mary Ellen MacBride, falsely accuses him of fathering the child she is expecting.

Rather than be forced to marry his accuser, Jack decides to run away to America with Eliza. Just as the ship is ready to sail Jack is arrested and dragged from the ship, leaving Eliza alone en route to New York with just a few shillings in her pocket.

From the author

My first two books have faraway locations – a great excuse for combining research with holidays. Location has always been a great inspiration for my books. I thought I was joking at first when I began to tell people novel number three would be set in Middlesbrough, England. I’d started to research my family tree and to my surprise discovered my great grandfather lived there and my Granny was born there – a fact no one in the family had mentioned. As I researched my great grandfather – he was a teacher but also had a period running a pub – I became increasingly curious and wondered whether some of the background elements to his story (teaching, Catholicism, the pub location) could be interesting material for me. Still not completely convinced, I planned to transplant these ideas to the USA – but something kept pulling me back to Middlesbrough.

I discovered that the iron and steel produced there ended up across the planet and led to a growth unmatched by any other British town. All this rapid growth, particularly among iron workers, resulted in overcrowding, poor sanitation and consequent social problems. My great grandfather, as a publican, would no doubt have been the beneficiary of the excessive alcoholism in the town – which was matched by a strong Temperance movement – including a Temperance Hall that seated 2000.

While writing the book, I happened to spend a few days in St Louis Missouri when en route to New Orleans and found a lot of thematic resonance with my Middlesbrough story. As well as having a large population of German Catholics the city was a centre of the beer brewing industry in the nineteenth century and so I decided to locate the second strand of my story to St Louis.

Like the look of this one? To download a copy of this one, or of any of the other books in the collection, just click on the book cover – or visit That’s the last one for today – I’ll be back tomorrow, featuring four more great books from the Book Club Gold collection.