The Funeral Dress: A Novel by Susan Gregg Gilmore stitches a story of a young unwed mother who works in the textile industry during the 1970s. Here is a description from the press information I was sent:
“The Funeral Dress is a deeply touching Southern story filled with struggle and hope. Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her. Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically. Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don’t think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman - or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.”
As a crafter and someone who used to sew a great deal at one time, I like novels like this that are able to weave narratives with history and crafting. You can find out more information about this book along with some Q&As with the author and even a recipe for hash brown casserole on the author’s press site. The Funeral Dress is published by Penguin Random House and comes out this September.