After years spent as a documentary film maker, Meggie O’Rourke has returned to help manage her family’s lingerie business in Portland, Oregon. Lace, Satin and Baubles is the creation of Meggie’s grandmother, a feisty Irish immigrant who controls Meggie and her sisters with a rod of iron. The bonds of family run deep and the O’Rourkes care passionately for both their exquisitely pretty lingerie and their diverse work force who create their delicate masterpieces. However, aware that the business needs a real jolt of excitement to boost sales, Meggie and her sisters have limited time to come up with a dynamic new vision. In order to entice more customers, Meggie decides to interview her relatives and employees about their first bra and special lingerie, and whilst she imagines something frivolous, what she actually gets is poignant, sweet and achingly emotional.
The story draws you in from the beginning. The gentle exploration of family dynamics is cleverly achieved and Meggie and her sisters, whilst proportionately dysfunctional have warmth and spirit, which makes for compelling reading. And yet, the real essence of the novel comes with the gradual revelation of Meggie’s past, in which something dark and dirty lingers like a bad smell, and which is revealed little by little in vivid detail.
As with all Cathy Lamb novels there is a real sense that she understands both her target audience, and the fundamental knowledge of what makes women tick. She writes so well, that in the space of just a few short paragraphs you find that you can laugh, cry and shout out loud, and still be completely bowled over by the way her characters are just so exactly right.
Overall, this is a story about family, and the truths we withhold from ourselves and others, and the courage we all need to find when faced with our own demons.
My thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for my ecopy of this book.