Quilting with Ariella Cohen

My mother is a world-class quilter, a master of straight seams and precise stitching.  I’m a bit more freewheeling.  Everything is hand-done; I don’t cheat on that score.  No, the challenge for me is more one of structure, for quilting demands a framework – literally.  It’s similar to novel writing in that respect.  Colors that coordinate, like characters that compliment, must be joined one to the other so that the whole appears greater than the sum of its parts.

While writing my debut, SWEET BREATH OF MEMORY, I undertook my first large quilting project.  I’d made lap quilts before, but like the short stories I’d written, those can only keep one cozy for an afternoon.  A full-size quilt is different.  As with a novel, it must envelop, providing so much warmth and security that one lowers defenses.  Relaxes and lets go.

The process of creating is common to both quilting and writing, so when the words wouldn’t come, the stitches did.  And if my hands cramped from holding the needle, typing relaxed them.  Stitch by stitch, sentence by sentence, both projects moved forward.  I didn’t realize how linked they were until I saw the novel’s lovely cover image.  How wonderful that the color schemes match so beautifully!



“A storyteller at the top of her game.” –Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author

Life is in the telling.

With its tree-lined streets, vibrant downtown and curbside planters of spring bulbs, Amberley, Massachusetts, seems a good place for Cate Saunders to start over. It’s been two years since her husband, John, was killed in Iraq and life has been a struggle. Her new job as a caregiver doesn’t pay much, but the locals are welcoming. In fact, Cate has barely unpacked before she’s drawn–reluctantly at first–into a circle of friends.

There’s diner-owner Gaby, who nourishes her customers’ spirits as well as their bodies; feisty Beatrice, who kept the town going when its men marched off to WWII; wise-cracking MaryLou, as formidable as Fort Knox but with the same heart of gold; and, Sheila, whose Italian grocery is the soul of the place. As Amberley reveals itself to be a town shaped by war, Cate encounters another kindred spirit–a Holocaust survivor with whom she feels a deep connection. When revelations about John’s death threaten Cate’s newfound peace of mind, these sisters-in-arms’ stories show her an unexpected way forward. And Cate comes to understand that although we suffer loss alone, we heal by sharing our most treasured memories.

“Filled with compassion, humor and honesty, Ariella Cohen’s Sweet Breath of Memory is a powerful story of forgiveness. . .Through food and friendship, a community releases its long held secrets, and Cohen provides solace for her characters and her readers.” — Karen Brown, author of The Longings of Wayward Girls

“Ariella Cohen spins a tender yarn about the enduring nature of love, the importance of friendship and the eternal longing for a place to call home. Every page brims with warmth, wisdom and compassion.” — Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of You Were Meant for Me