Thursday, August 22, 2013

Farmer's Daughter Quilt Block and Main Character Mary Dell of Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick

Farmer's Daughter Quilt Block
Do you love to quilt AND love to read?  I invite you to join the free, online Quilters' Book Club.  Each month we read a book, discuss it through comments on my blog posts, and then make a quilt block to represent that book.  Our book to read and discuss during August 2013 is Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick.  Today, our focus is on the main character, Mary Dell, and her baby Howard. 

In an interview, Marie Bostwick answers some questions about Mary Dell and Howard:

You have identified Mary Dell Templeton as your favorite character. What is it about her that compels you?

"It’s true. I fell in love with Mary Dell the minute she walked onto the stage. How could I not? Mary Dell Templeton is just a pleasure to write. She’s bold, she’s brave, she’s kind, she’s superbly confident yet without an ounce of arrogance but, most of all, she’s just completely happy being herself."

Mary Dell has a son with Down syndrome. Why did you choose to develop a character with a disability and what do you hope that readers might gain from your depiction?

"I didn’t really decide to develop a disabled character. I almost never decide to develop any character. They simply arrive in my head. When Mary Dell, a technically expert quilter with not an ounce of taste, arrived she came with a son, Howard, born with Down syndrome, who happened to have remarkable color sense and picked all the fabrics for his mother’s quilts. So, they were kind of a package from the first.

"That being said, one of the reasons I decided to give Mary Dell a book of her own, aside from her being such a delight to write, was because of the mail I received from readers who were parents of adult children with developmental disabilities, thanking me for writing about Mary Dell and Howard in such a positive, hopeful way.

"One reader said, 'no one ever writes about our kids as having anything to offer.' When I thought about it, I saw that, in fiction, this was usually true. I wanted to change that. As far as I’m concerned, everyone is here for a reason and everyone has something to offer if people will give them a chance. And if people can see the truth of that by reading BETWEEN HEAVEN AND TEXAS, that would be about the best payday I could imagine."
If you'd like to make a block to go with Mary Dell or Howard, here are some suggestions to get you started.  Click on each link to go to the free pattern:
Mary Dell:
Color Me Bright Quilt Block - If you make this block, choose colors that are bright and clash with each other like Mary Dell would!
Color Wheel Quilt Block - If you choose to make this block, choose colors that reflect Howard's good color sense.
Star of Destiny Quilt Block - "Everyone is here for a reason and everyone has something to offer."  Marie Bostwick
When Howard is born with Down syndrome, Mary Dell and Donny are understandably stunned. Within a few weeks of Howard’s birth, Donny leaves Too Much and deserts his family. Why do you think Mary Dell was more able than her husband to cope with the reality of Howard’s disability? Is there such a thing as the “weaker sex”? Or do you think each sex has its own set of weaknesses or strengths, depending on the situation?

Mary Dell works hard to become better informed about Down syndrome so she can be a better mother, teacher, and advocate for Howard. At some level, most mothers become an advocate for their children. Do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing? Is advocacy a role that can get out of hand for parents? Why or why not?

Inquiring minds want to know!  By commenting on either or both questions, you are entering your name in a giveaway of a fabulous prize pack containing Wedding Ring, Endless Chain, Lover’s Knot (first three books of the Shenandoah Album Series) and Mountain Away, all by Emilie Richards - courtesy of Harlequin!

A note to my readers:  I like to e-mail all those who take the time to comment.  If you are a "no-reply commenter," I don't believe my e-mails are reaching you!  So from now on, I will reply to you after your comment.

Heads Up:  Our September book is The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs.  You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here


  1. I appreciate the way Marie brings up life issues in her books and educates us while we enjoy a good story. I don't think there is a weaker sex. Men and women often have different gifts to bring to a relationship. I think that's a good thing.

  2. Men and women are complementary to one another with strengths and weaknesses that are illuminated by their unique personalities.

    If parents aren't, can't or won't be unfailing advocates for their children, then all is lost. Who more so than a mother or father who's flesh and blood you are could be a better advocate for you as a child. Well, and then there is Donny!!! Sigh, the world just stinks sometimes doesn't it. What a terrific book.

  3. We all have strengths and weaknesses. It helps to discover those strengths so we can overcome the weaknesses. Sometimes we have to find our own way and sometimes we find an advocate. It might not even be a parent. Helicopter parents that hover over kids, keeping them from making mistakes are not always as helpful as they may seem... we learn by mistakes as well.
    It really is hard when your parents do not support your efforts though, so parenting needs to find a balance.

  4. Ditto to Karen's, MamaT's & Julie's comments. I can not state these observations any better!

  5. Every child is a gift from God and has strengths and weaknesses. Donny apparently only saw the weakness in Howard and didn't want to take the time to discover the hidden wonders of his personality. So, who had the greater weakness, Howard or Donny? Advocacy can get out of hand if the caregiver, either a man or woman, ignores the needs of others in the family. There has to be a balance, and shared caregiving, with the help of others, and guided counseling, can relieve stress. It's not an easy thing. I haven't read the book yet, but hope to download it to my kindle soon.

  6. I don't think a "weaker sex" comes into play when a man leaves a relationship when a child is born with a handicap. It happens often in real life. It often happens even when a child does not have a handicap. That being said, moms for the most part can't abandon their children as easily as a man can. In my opinion, that has nothing to do with being a "weaker sex". It is something totally different.

    I think it is extremely important for a parent to educate themselves when they have a child with a problem whether it's downs syndrome, ADD or something else. It is important to be educated on what you are dealing with. My son is ADD and I am forever learning as much as I can concerning ADD to help him through growing and life in general and others with ADD. It runs in my family. Having done my homework I was able to find the correct routes to educate my son through his ADD. He has never been a discipline problem at school or at home because I had that education. He graduated with straight A's and was a Governors Honors Program student. Just started his 4th year of college. So, yeah, advocacy has it's place.

  7. Mary Dell has always been able to accept what life has given her without complaint. Donny couldn't even tolerate the idea of loving a child unless it was his own flesh and blood.

    Advocating for your child is ok, as long as you encourage your child to do things themselves, and not to become a helicopter parent. My sons were raised to become responsible, caring adults, not to have mommy do everything for them. Because of this, they are turning out very well, thank goodness.

  8. We are advocates for our kids; we just have to be careful that we don't overdo this; we must allow them to be independent. Sometimes the man blames himself for the handicap and can't handle this.

  9. Some very insightful people on this blog - enough said - no need to repeat.

    1. I also meant to say I like the pictured block. I'm saving that pattern. Will check out the others too.

  10. I think that Mary Dell coped with all things in her life that presented a challenge. She was tenacious in her desire to make the best of a situation and succeed. Whether it was submitting quilts for publication, getting a business started or raising her child Mary Dell gave it her all. I don't think this necessarily means she was a member of " the stronger sex". She just believed in working hard for what was important. I think that value was instilled early on by her family and developed during her early life experiences. Donny? He might have been programmed through his early teachings and experiences to believe that having a son who was less than perfect made him look weak. My impression was that he felt bad about it but didn't have the strength to overcome those attitudes or accept help from from others to do so.

  11. Thanks for the heads-up about being a no-reply commenter. I changed my settings so that I can receive email.


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