Quilts and stories form the basis of Sandra Dallas’s novel Prayers for Sale. It is the piecing and stitching of quilts and the telling of stories that mark the friendship between two women in Dallas’s engaging and well written book. One woman younger, unaccustomed to the harsh life of a mining town; one older, knowing what it takes to not only survive but thrive yet harboring griefs of her own:
It’s 1936 and the Great Depression has taken its toll. Eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan, Colorado–up in the high country of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains–since before it was Colorado. When she first meets seventeen-year-old Nit Spindle, Hennie is drawn to the young grieving girl. Nit and her husband have come to this small mining town in search of work, but the loneliness and loss Nit feels are almost too much to bear. One day she notices an old sign that reads “Prayers for Sale” in front of Hennie’s house and takes out her last nickel. Hennie doesn’t actually take money for her prayers, never has, but she invites the skinny girl in anyway. The harsh conditions of life that each has endured helps them to create an instant bond, and a friendship is born, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed.
Prayers for Sale moves somewhat slowly, and I do not mean that as a criticism. Rather, the novel gains its strength from the development of the characters themselves than from an action driven plotline. And the characters themselves, Hennie, Nit, Hennie’s friend Tom, even the women of the Tenmile quilting club, all are richly drawn and perfectly cast.
This is a book to be relished, ideal for reading snuggled under a quilt while savoring a cup of coffee. Of course, I read it in the heat of summer, rendering the quilt (but not the coffee, never the coffee) unnecessary–yet the coziness of Hennie’s cabin, the warmth of hers and Nit’s friendship and the severe beauty of the Colorado mountains made me think of autumn (come quickly, October!). Of course, that may well be the strangest reason for recommending a novel yet but if you get what I’m saying then you will enjoy reading Prayers for Sale. I know I did.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
I really enjoyed this book, too. I actually listened to the audio, and at first, I thought it was slow because of that (I would have read the first part more quickly).
But as I reached the midpoint of the novel, I realized that as you said — it’s totally intentional. It suits the character.
Carly Kendall says
Thank you for this review. I bought this book a few months ago because Barnes and Noble had it on sale. I have not read it yet, but after reading your review, I will move it up on my list. Great review, thank you.
I really enjoyed this book despite not initially liking the slow pace. Sandra Dallas writes some amazing books and if you read “The Diary of Mattie Spenser” then you’ll definitely want to read this one.
I really like Sandra Dallas. This one sounds terrific. Great review.