The Lace Makers of Glenmara



  • The lace makers of Glenmara : a novel / Heather Barbieri.


Publication Info

  • New York : Harper, c2009.


  • 9780061721557 : HRD $24.99
  • 0061721557 : HRD $24.99


  • 270 p.


  • Paperback
  • Paperback Large Print
  • Hardcover
  • eBook
  • Compact disc
  • MP3


4Q, 3P


Women’s fiction

Reader’s Annotation

American Kate Robinson finds healing from loss in the company of the lace makers of Glenmara, Ireland.


Kate tries to escape the losses in her life while traveling through the Irish countryside. A fellow traveler leads her to Glenmara, a Gaelic village on the west coast. There Kate, a seamstress, meets a group of extraordinary women, lifelong friends who happen to practice traditional lace making. As the women teach Kate about lace making and life, Kate also helps each of them find a new purpose and a new way to face the challenges of their lives. They in turn help Kate face her losses and learn to love again.


This lovely novel is set in modern Ireland, with its lush scenery and wild coastline. The reader gets a wonderful glimpse into the culture and into the lives of these resilient women. Barbieri paints no rosy picture of an idyllic Irish life. The lives of these women are hard, and loss figures prominently into each story. Through the lace, they find a way to handle these challenges and strengthen the bonds of friendship.

The author weaves an engaging and magical tale. The characters are well-developed, coming across as very real people, with real talents, flaws, and problems, but the village and its people are full of old-fashioned charm.  Barbieri includes a touch of Irish lore and legend, enough to charm and intrigue, but not so much as to destroy belief. The individual storylines do not wrap up in a neat package at the end of the book, but we are left with a feeling that there is hope for the future and that the women and the village will survive.


The author’s website.

A video interview that must be downloaded.

An interview with Book Reporter with a focus on this novel.





Appeal Factors

Readers who like stories about the relationships of women, especially flawed, relatable characters, will enjoy this novel. It may also appeal to those who love an Irish setting.


Heart and Soul, by Maeve Binchy. These books share the genre Women’s Fiction and an Irish setting. They are also both character driven.

Tapestry of Fortunes, by Elizabeth Berg. Sharing the genre Women’s Fiction and the theme of women’s friendships, these two books are also heartwarming and engagingly written.

A Single Thread, by Marie Bostwick. The two novels share the theme of women’s friendships. Both feature flawed, relatable characters. They also share a focus on needlecraft.

Booktalk Ideas

Since this book is character driven, the booktalk should focus on character description. That could be a single description of Kate with her pain and desire to find something to hang on to. Better yet might be a set of brief description of the women who are part of the lace makers’ circle.

Discussion Questions

A major theme of the novel is the friendships of women. Describe some of the friendships in the book. Who is/are the best friend(s)? The most difficult?

What role do faith and religion play in the lives of these women? How is Catholicism portrayed by the author?

The author embeds elements of the supernatural in the story. Why do you think she did this? Does it enhance the story for you or create a distraction?

Bernie recalls her grandmother saying, “There is none so dangerous as a righteous man” (p. 176). What does she mean? How does this relate to Father Byrne?

Idea: If possible, it would be fun to have a lace making demonstration at the meeting.

Why I chose this book

The Irish setting, the cover, and the synopsis on the book flap all appealed to me.

Memory Hooks

Irish countryside, lace making, lingerie


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