• Threads of Life

  • A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle
  • By: Clare Hunter
  • Narrated by: Siobhan Redmond
  • Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Hare with Amber Eyes meets A History of the World in 100 Objects, Threads of Life is a history of sewing and embroidery, told through the stories of the men and women, over centuries and across continents, who have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard, even in the most desperate of circumstances.  

From the political storytelling of the Bayeux tapestry's anonymous embroiderers and Mary, Queen of Scots' treasonous stitching, to the sewing of First World War soldiers suffering from PTSD and the banner makers at Greenham Common, Threads of Life stretches from medieval France to 1980s America, from a Second World War POW camp in Singapore to a family attic in Scotland. It is as much about identity, protest, memory and politics as craft and artistry.   

In an eloquent blend of history and memoir, with a unique understanding of craft, Clare Hunter's Threads of Life is an evocative and moving audiobook about the need we all have to tell our story.  

©2019 Clare Hunter (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about Threads of Life

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Profile Image for Ragne
  • Ragne
  • 04-14-20

Interesting and thought provocative

When I got sick some years ago, I taught myself to embroider and knit. These were things I could do while bedridden, and I quickly found it helped my psyche, and lessened pain. It was gratifying to learn that this has been done professionally, and found to help several different types of patients.
It inspired me to several new patterns, and to be more proud of my work.

What bugged me, was that the reader often sounds like she has some sort of dental braces, and/or a mouth full of water. It was rater distracting sometimes.

2 people found this helpful

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  • miss e e gurney
  • 04-05-19

Beautiful and fascinating

This book is an extremely interesting trip through textile history. It comprises invention, politics, protest, feminism in the true sense of the word, creativity and voice.

I honestly believe anyone would enjoy this book.

Beautifully and aptly read.

Every minute was a pleasure.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-17-19

A Beautiful Tale of the Power of Stitch

I am a mature textile student and found this book a brilliant asset to my degree studies but also a moving, inspiring and enjoyable audiobook. Will buy the hardcopy now so I can refer back to it.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-15-19

A brilliant read

Absorbing, fascinating and constantly surprising Threads of Life submits a history of needlework for our consideration and never disappoints.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Textilephd
  • 04-02-19

Fabulous

I absolutely adored this book the stories were beautiful the narrator was superb
I know I will listen again
I also intend to buy the hard copy of this sublime book

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Profile Image for Loz
  • Loz
  • 05-27-22

My new favourite non-fiction book

This is an absolutely fabulous book. I am a person who sews and who has been involved in some of that which is detailed in the book, but the sewing is the bit that stitches the social histories together. If you are not a person who sews, you will still love it if you are interested in the history of marginalised people or oppression, culture, Scottish history, art history, language - the list goes on! This is a magnificent history of stitchery, but is so much more than that. I completely LOVED it.

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  • K. Golding
  • 02-28-22

Reclaiming embroidery

Rivetting listen. Hunter has produced a book of extraordinary width, illuminating the many ways embroidery has given 'voice' to people's stories. Feminism, defiance, community, culture, commerce - it's impossible to summarise this exhilarating, thought-provoking book, superbly read by Siobhan Redmond.

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  • Micki
  • 01-08-22

Initially interesting

Initially interesting, but as I got further into the book I found myself hearing less about sewing and more about socialist and anti English views... Maybe I'll get back to the book (but I doubt it).

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  • Michelle
  • 11-05-21

Comforting & unsettling:& life affirming

I love textiles so this had instant appeal. I expected it to be knowledgeable and celebratory, and to cover famous embroideries like the Bayeux Tapestry. I didn’t expect to be unsettled. A lover of the needle arts, and a professional practitioner, Clare Hunter understands and evokes the joyful sensual and soothing and the mind numbing, constrictive and occasionally deadly role of sewing and embroidery. She is a wonderful writer and the book is so well constructed. Neither hurried nor dragged out, the writing never sags. Engaging and intriguing. You’ll be hunting out some fabric & thread by the end - id you can resist that long.

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  • Chrissie Ann
  • 06-22-21

Really informative

A good history of embroidery and sewing, all based on women and their status in life.

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  • Miss E Keene
  • 04-17-22

Informative and immersive

Really enjoyed listening to this book, it was well researched and original, told with a passion and insight.

You could feel the writer's heart, passion and honesty for her subject. Giving the book more depth and connection.

The narrator owned the story well. I had to keep reminding myself, she was not in fact the voice of the writer.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-07-21

Not much fact, much hunching

Not too many facts in the first third of this book, was turned off by the constant hunching of downtrodden women over their work. I'm sure some of them enjoyed their needlework. The narrator was fantastic though.