Quilt of Souls – Recommended Reading

As you know, I’m a family history buff and love old quilts. Maybe those affinities predisposed me to like the book Quilt of Souls. Even if you aren’t a history and quilt lover, you’ll find this book worthwhile.

I read a lot of memoirs but Quilt of Souls by Phyllis Lawson grabbed me and lingers in my mind even several months later. Here’s the message I emailed the author: “I really see your book as equal to Maya Angelou’s writing.”

She replied, “Thank you, Virginia, that’s a pretty high compliment and praise. To be compared to Maya Angelou is an honor. She was one of my favorites.”

Aside from her story which is compelling, I felt she brought up historic patterns and influences in black lives that both whites and blacks may be unaware of. The Black Lives Matter movement is tapping into many unresolved issues in race relations. Her book shows how this traces back to slavery days.

quilt of souls author visit
Quilt and photo of Phyllis Lawson’s grandmother.

As a four-year-old, Phyllis fell to the care of her grandparents as her overburdened parents struggled to make a living. Feeling abandoned in a strange place, she gradually blossomed while learning life skills and family history from her aged grandmother.

As she learned the basics of quilting from Grandma Lula, the vintage fabrics from relatives’ discarded clothing served as links to the past. The stories shared as they stitched these into quilts told of hardship, oppression, and fortitude. It was the story of our country’s mistreatment of a race through slavery and through structured repression but brought to life through the oral history of her ancestors.

Her vivid descriptions of her childhood take us to that dusty yard in Alabama where a fearful child hid under the porch. Light filtered through to her while overhead the grown-ups fanned themselves and talked about their lives.

Please check out the author’s webpage, Quilt of Souls and her Facebook page for the book. The author page lists upcoming events from California to New York City. You can contact her publicist, James Fontenot, at fontenotjf@gmail.com or 703-946-9111 to arrange for her to speak at your quilt guild, genealogy club or other groups.


quilt of souls author visit
Here’s the Quilt of Souls author (in black shirt) at a book signing in Florida.


4 thoughts on “Quilt of Souls – Recommended Reading

  1. heytoto June 2, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    Sounds like a good read. I like the idea of the story developing organically using the scraps of clothing discarded by her family members.

  2. Kathryn Grace February 27, 2017 / 8:35 am

    I think you posted a link to this book on Facebook recently. I’m pretty sure that’s how I ended up buying it. Anyway, I read it today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Flows like a novel in places. Reading of the healing nature of the grandmother and her quilts, I literally felt healed myself, through and through. That’s some writing, and maybe something else too.

    • Virginia Allain February 27, 2017 / 1:54 pm

      The author is coming to speak in April in our community. Looking forward to hearing her speak again. She was interviewed by PBS and is getting lots of speaking engagements, so I’m glad the book is getting attention.

      • Kathryn Grace February 27, 2017 / 7:46 pm

        I’m glad to hear that. Her story mesmerized me.

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