Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nancy Zieman's Seams Unlikely ~ Reviewed

By Nancy Zieman and Marjorie L. Russell
Published by Glass Roads
301 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: Millions of women learned to sew while watching the inimitable Nancy Zieman on public television's, Sewing with Nancy. Many of them have Googled phrases like "stroke Nancy Zieman" in an effort to discover the reasons behind the partial paralysis of Nancy's beautiful face. Viewers purchased products Nancy used through Nancy's Notions, followed patterns she created for McCall's, and enjoyed meeting distinguished guests via the show.

Now, Nancy takes her viewers behind the scenes of her life. She shares about the Bell's palsy that not only affected her appearance, but also her esteem and physical abilities. Readers learn about the growth of Nancy professionally: from addressing catalogs at the kitchen table to growing a multi-million dollar notions business - and personally: marrying Rich, then growing a family through birth and adoption.

Through it all, the picture emerges of a hard-working woman who overcame various and varied obstacles to become what she is today: successful, skilled, gracious, and loved by millions of viewers. 

REVIEW: I’m so thankful for the review copy of a book that allowed me the opportunity to read about Nancy Zieman’s incredible life. I was hooked from the first paragraph. It starts out on Father’s day June 21, 1953. She states, “My mother, Barbara Larson Luedtke was ten months married, eight months pregnant, six months past her twenty first birthday and looking forward to a whole day away from the farm with my father – Ralph Luedtke.”

It is written in first person and the writing style had a Forest Gump sort of feel to it. I felt as if I were sitting down with Nancy Zieman and she was sharing a scrap book of her life with me.  It’s up-close, personal and inspirational. I loved that.

When my Aunt Rita and I decided we wanted to learn how to quilt we watched “Sewing with Nancy,” shows. We both liked how she taught. She was calm and patient and took things step by step. She made you feel like you could sew along with her and make the project she demonstrated. I’m glad Marjorie L. Russell; previous editor and freelance writer for the American Quilter magazine, was willing to work with Nancy and encouraged her to write a book about her experiences in sewing, life and her adventures in T.V. Believe me this is a book you won’t soon forget.

Nancy said this about her struggles, “My smile is crooked and I speak carefully in order to speak clearly. But beyond the physical effects, one of the major effects of Bell ’s Palsy is it’s assault on an individual’s confidence…my life is quite normal; I just happen to have a public job.”

It was interesting to read about her 4-H experience and how that group helped change her life. She found her passion and gifting there and it gave her training she’d use the rest of her life. “4-H members learned by doing she said. “My mom pushed me. Nancy, you need to do demonstrations. She knew I could put demonstrations together...I owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude.”

Nancy said, “I didn’t expect much of T.V. …my face was the main reason. Even though I had made huge strides in confidence since my teen years. I was still aware that my face was flawed… she said, "opportunities shouldn't be dismissed on the basis of fear....I kept reminding myself that I was a sewing teacher; appearing on T.V. would merely mean that I was teaching in front of several hundred people instead of thirty to sixty seminar attendees….there were also advantages of having a T. V. program I could promote Nancy’s Notions ....Even though I didn't have specific answers to my questions, I agreed to be on T.V.…Sewing with Nancy was born.”

I liked how this writing team brought in different people to make comments, say encouraging things or write about how they viewed a time period or situation they were talking about. For example, “Dean Luedtke Nancy’s brother said, “Growing up on a farm fosters a work ethic. If you don’t do something you’re responsible for doing it won’t get done;’ and if you do a lousy job, you’re the one who pays. You see the trials and tribulations, but you also get to see the glory of God in how plants grow and calves are born, and how things fit together in this world.” 

I was captivated by this inspiring, incredible journey though heartaches and triumphs, personal struggles with chronic pain, surgeries and life's surprises that didn't seem possible. It also was a walk through history of the sewing industry, a time before the World Wide Web came on the scene.

Nancy had a few more challenges to overcome than most. Her up-bringing on the farm and her time in the out-doors helped her have a fun and adventurous childhood. I like and respect Nancy Zieman even more since I’ve read her testimony. She’s captured a special place in my heart. I have a new found admiration for her and how she treats the people God puts in Nancy's life. I enjoyed reading about the tasks He laid before her, and how she took on challenges in prayer. I also liked learning about her family and her faith.

Nancy states, “I've said this before, “I was just the choir director – other people sang the music that got us recognition. Good employees are a company’s greatest asset. …There are things I feel strongly about, but I’m not a forceful in-your-face kind of person. I would much rather accomplish things quietly, diligently proving my point with kindness. Kindness goes a long way. “

Mike Schuster – Colleague says, “…..Nancy took risks to see what would happen and it was all done so humbly and with caring.”

I gleaned this all the way through my reading, about the challenges that came her way and how she didn't let fear stop her from facing them head on. She is a women of faith and walked out her passion humbly and with gratitude. God provided the people, tools and creativity for her to bloom and grow. It was encouraging to read.

I highly recommend this book to book clubs. There is so much to discuss. You can also bring in so many things to enhance your book club meetings with youtube videos to watch and places you could go on the web like Nancy’s Notions and/or a field trip to quilt stores etc. to create a great book club experience. Thanks Nancy for sharing your heart, your experiences and your passion. I’m forever grateful that you walked in a path that was uncomfortable but rewarding for so many.

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
Finding Hope Through Fiction


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your review and look forward to reading Nancy's book, but please consider a proofread for incorrect punctuation. For example, "4-H" appears in every possible format within only three sentences!

Linda Machado said...

I've read Nancy's book and I love it. It tells an amazing story and just shows how normal Nancy and her family really are. And to be able to live in their town and be treated like normal is a true testament to their values and character. I would love to meet her on a one to one some day. If you're a fan of Sewing with Nancy you will love her book. Enjoy!

JeriLynn Saint-Onge said...

Thank you for the review and letting the world know how special Nancy! truly is, I have watched her show for 2 years now and feel fortunate to have found her. I always felt she was a christian girl just by her demeanor and caring spirit of others. I pray this book review will put a kick in her step and a smile on her beautiful face. Blessings to you Nancy Zieman!

Anonymous said...

I received it as a present for Valentine's Day and I am going to start reading it today. She is to be admired and respected for all she has give us sewers.

Kelly Klepfer said...

Thank you, Anonymous 1 for pointing out the grammatical error. My mistake for not catching that. It has been fixed.

Nora StLaurent said...

THANKS for your encouragement. Loved your comments. I always enjoyed Nancy's show but I felt she was an even more special lady after reading her book.

Nora :o)