When my book club first suggested we read a book called The Persian Pickle Club, I was skeptic. It sounded hokey. It’s a book about women who eat pickles? No, that would be boring.
To start, I had to look up what a Persian Pickle was. If I had to read about it, it better be interesting! A Persian pickle is actually another name for a paisley design, often used by quilters. And Sandra Dallas’ book is about a group of women who get together once a week to quilt in Depression era Kansas.
What I didn’t expect from a book with this title about a group of women quilters is how Desperate Housewives it was! Just goes to show me, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve shared about my book club, so allow me to divulge a little club member love to my fellow readers. I joined this book club four or five months ago after a coworker invited me fully divulging I’d be the youngest one there by 20-30 years. I was a bit nervous walking into the houses of these women (we take turns hosting the book of the month). Their houses were in the suburbs, beautiful large rooms, fancy dishes, hand painted wall murals or oversize family portraits. I live with two boys and I can’t have nice things. What was I going to have in common with any of these women?
Well, just goes to show me DON’T JUDGE A BOOK CLUB BY ITS COVER EITHER! I LOVE going to book club. The women in this group (there are 11 of us) have lived all over the country (some worked outside the country for a stint), have raised children, survived divorce, remarried, worked as teachers, counselors, nurses, and managers for many years, and know more about the power of laughter than any group I’ve met. It doesn’t matter the book, the wealth of knowledge about the times, what was happening in the news, in the medical industry, in the education system, gender inequalities, family dynamics, they bring so much to the discussion. And, oddly enough, they LOVE having me, now known as our “token young person” they make other book clubs jealous that they have me. I bring new perspectives to the discussion, and being a writing major and gender/sexuality studies minor I have some “back in my head, I once learned…” valuable information to discuss as well. 🙂
Back to the book, Queenie Bean is a Kansas farm wife, confident, content and happy with her life and the world around her. She is a member of the Persian Pickle Club, a quilting group where the women get together to expand their minds and poke fun at one another as long friendships allow. Rita Ritter, is the new girl in town, just married and moved from the city, and unable to fit in very well at Persian Pickle, as hard they help her to learn to sew. If you’re a fan of Desperate Housewives like myself, you should start to see the trend: new girl moves in to town, doesn’t fit in…where’s the body?
Turns out, this dusty town in Kansas has some secrets, and Rita is determined to find them out! If you’re thinking of picking up The Persian Pickle Club to read for yourself or a book club, be advised that there are a lot of characters, and they make their appearances rather early in the book. If you’re planning on having a discussion about them, you may want to jot notes as to who’s who till you get going. The majority of the characters have some distinct personalities, and everyone in our group adored the narrator, Queenie, because as her husband teased, “it took her less than five minutes to start talking like whoever she was with.” There are cute comments from Queenie when she learns new lingo from Rita’s city speak, but she has a humble way of speaking the same language with the drifter family that camps out on their farmland.
The book has several interesting themes for discussion regarding gender roles of the times, and religion. The three most religious people in the book are the three most disliked, Dallas’ turns religion on its head in several instances in the book. The best discussion of the whole night kept circling back to sisterhood. Is there a need for a women’s group that provides the safety and support to say whatever and do whatever in life? I can’t tell you who did it, that wouldn’t make reading the book any fun, but I can tell you the Persian Pickles will remind you of the women in your own life, the ones who helped raise your kids, gave you rides when you needed them, purposely embarrassed themselves to make you feel better, and also made fun of you all the time, but if someone else did it would ream them out royally!
I could share some of our great discussions, but I don’t want to give any of the Pickles’ secrets away. I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy it. Dallas writes from experience with the setting, and has created fun loving, memorable characters who will feel like your own best friends.
What do you think? Is it important to have a supportive group of women friends? To what lengths would you go for each other?
Did you know what a Persian Pickle was? Good, me neither. But now we do.