Megan is unhappy in her marriage. Stanley is gone for 2 weeks every month. She decides to rent out the apartment over the garage to get more money. Things are tight. Elizabeth comes to Comfort, NC after a dream in which her grandmother says comfort to her. She hears something on the radio about Comfort, NC and needs to leave her life for awhile. Elizabeth finds the ad for Megan's rental. Everyone Elizabeth meets is changed by knowing her!
Overview from B&N:
Excerpt from Sharpe's site:
“I’ll come back early, how’s that?”
“I’ve got a Purls Before Wine meeting tonight.” Megan saw Stanley to the door, let him kiss her goodnight. He wouldn’t come back early even if she was staying in. She knew her husband better than that.
The minivan started, revved, drove away chirping—he still hadn’t taken it to Valyne Service to have Dick look at it—and Megan’s muscles relaxed. Usually Stanley being around was a relief, a break from being in charge of everything. Maybe her turmoil was from watching Elizabeth judge their marriage on appearances, admiring Stanley, eating up his admiration of her—the way he got people on his side. He was a good salesman, her husband. If all his successes came home to Comfort instead of half, they’d be doing fine.
She climbed to the second floor, step by step, using the banister to help haul herself up, feeling older, heavier, burdened by her own body. A hot bath with Hemingway would be a slice of heaven. But the Purls knitting club couldn’t be put off, they had the blanket to finish, and Sally would want ideas for lace to decorate her wedding dress. Megan had a few, but nothing worth sharing yet.
In her room, she balked at getting ready, even knowing she’d be late, wandered to the window. Down in the yard, her garden was enjoying the summer, plants stretching for the sun, bean vines tangling across the trellis. A breeze blew, fluttering heart-shaped leaves surrounding the delicate pink-white blossoms.
Megan caught her breath. Into her head popped a lace design, better than any she’d tried to force: spider webs, diamonds, fans, some opaque, some cobwebby and indistinct. An edging of ring lace. A lace holes border.
Her hands itched for needles, for the warm soft slide of wool. This hadn’t happened in years, designs coming to her this way, like visions. Not in years. She turned away from the window as if in a trance. The clear picture of the lace stayed in her mind, now clean cream against the green backdrop of her garden, now flying to a mountaintop, interwoven threads fanning the firs. Beautiful lace, wafting on the wind over the treeless expanse of Shetland, fixing itself onto Sally’s plain dress, decorating the bodice and skirt, ornamenting the hem.
And to cover her scarred shoulders . . .
Megan closed the door to her and Stanley’s room, crossed to their closet, feet directing her path. In the back of the highest shelf lay a flat box where she’d shelved it fifteen years earlier, loathing everything it stood for but unable to throw it away.
On their bed now she sat, box balanced on her thighs, lifted the cover and pulled back the tissue paper, tears obscuring the details of the lace. A Shetland wedding shawl she’d designed herself, tree and diamond center, a shell border and clematis edging, gossamer weight, light and delicate enough to pass through a wedding ring. Mom had taught her the craft, Megan had inherited the art.
Her last lace project, the shawl was supposed to have been a surprise for Stanley at their fifth anniversary vow-renewal ceremony. A month before the event, on the eve of sending out invitations to most of Comfort, Megan had found out his secret. She’d cancelled the church, put the veil away and told Vera they had better things to do with their money than throw parties, that she’d lost interest in knitting, that she was a one-shawl wonder.
Vera hadn’t believed her. Megan hadn’t expected her to. But Vera’s capacity for denial had worked in Megan’s favor. Nothing had been said; Vera had asked no questions, though Megan had spent the next fifteen years under a smog of disapproval for rejecting lace and the ceremony re-binding her to Stanley. Ironic since Megan had spent those same fifteen years protecting her mother-in-law from the truth of her son’s life.
Out of the box, the fine threads of the shawl caught on her work-roughened hands. She’d never been as proud of anything in her life as she was of this, except for her children. Few things had hurt more than stuffing it away to be forgotten.