THE FISHERMAN’S QUILT

Margaret Doyle

In The Fisherman’s Quilt, young Nora Hunter arrives in Alaska with her fisherman husband and infant daughter. She brings her first, fancy quilt to Alaska, along with an idealistic vision of life on America’s last frontier.

Soon after arriving in the town of Kodiak, Nora’s husband is off on a fishing boat, pursuing the “deadliest catch.” As she realizes she is the wife of a loner, Nora encounters the dark side of Kodiak culture – instability, alcoholism, greed, recklessness, disloyalty, loneliness, and drug-taking.

Nora doesn’t accept the culture she’s found and as she seeks another,

more …

In The Fisherman’s Quilt, young Nora Hunter arrives in Alaska with her fisherman husband and infant daughter. She brings her first, fancy quilt to Alaska, along with an idealistic vision of life on America’s last frontier.

Soon after arriving in the town of Kodiak, Nora’s husband is off on a fishing boat, pursuing the “deadliest catch.” As she realizes she is the wife of a loner, Nora encounters the dark side of Kodiak culture – instability, alcoholism, greed, recklessness, disloyalty, loneliness, and drug-taking.

Nora doesn’t accept the culture she’s found and as she seeks another, she fashions a new vision of her identity and her future. She develops the strength that all women alone must develop. She forges a community of craftmakers and quilters, of mothers and musicians, of politicians and civic leaders.

At once an adventure, love story, and a portrait of late-twentieth century American marriage, The Fisherman’s Quilt is an uncensored tale of longing, questioning, and life’s celebration.

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  • Port Gamble Publishing
  • Paperback
  • 2004
  • 289 Pages
  • 9780976109907

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$18.95

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About Margaret Doyle

Margaret Doyle was born in Seattle of Canadian-Irish parents. She lived in Alaska for seven years before returning to the Pacific Northwest. She has worked as a journalist, musician, and Internet website developer. Doyle’s periodic newsletter is available at www.PortGamblePublishing.com. Her memoir of a Catholic childhood in the 1950s, The Wild and Holy Child, will be published in 2007.

Praise

The Fisherman’s Quilt is a beautifully written, emotionally sensitive book that I highly recommend. Margaret Doyle has created a soulful piece of fine work.” —Judith Orloff, M.D., Author, Positive Energy and Second Sight

“Doyle’s book speaks with insight and power about the lives of neglected women. … the problems she depicts are universal and will resonate with readers who have never landed a salmon or crab.” —Shana Loshbaugh, Kenai AK Peninsula Clarion

Discussion Questions

What is your reading experience of The Fisherman’s Quilt? Is it intellectual or emotional?

What are the weaknesses and strengths of Nora’s character? Is Nora principled or stubborn? Is she compassionate or selfish? Are these character traits common to women of the Baby Boom era?

What is it about Kodiak, and about fishing, that appeals to Nora? How much of a role do the locale, nature, and landscape of Kodiak play in this novel?

Matt often says he wishes he had a choice to be with his family or to go out to sea. Once he embraces the challenge of fishing, and Nora embraces the challenge of following him to Kodiak and raising her family there, what choices does she have, and what are her obligations?

The Serenity Prayer says, “Give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” How does Nora live this prayer in the different challenges that come her way?

Fishermen and others whose jobs involve life-threatening situations embrace and weigh risk to their personal well-being with an immediacy most of us do not face. How does this change a person, and affect their character? How does Nora relate to her husband’s endangerment, risk-taking and courage?

Women’s liberation and the emergence of feminism were prominent issues in the 1970’s. Is Nora needy or normal? How does Nora’s experience of maturing into an adult woman compare to yours?

In his book Genius, Harold Bloom paraphrases Emerson: “The [truth] we behold in literature is already our own, though we have alienated it from ourselves.” Which parts of The Fisherman’s Quilt speak to common thoughts and feelings that you may have felt but rarely expressed? Is Nora an Everywoman figure or is she unique in her longing, expectations, and loneliness?

Peter Berger has said, “It is through myths that [we] are lifted above our captivity in the ordinary and attain powerful visions of the future.” Myths have also been called “the sharers of our loneliness.” What are some of the myths Nora explores? Is she trying to live a fairy tale, or is she adjusting her desires to the reality of her situation?

What is the fisherman’s quilt? What do quilts represent in this novel? Why do women quilt, and what artistry is involved in self-expression, communication and community?