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Vernon author wins top award for Sidonia’s Thread

Sidonia’s Thread: The Secrets of a Mother and Daughter Sewing a New Life in America, by author Hanna Perlstein Marcus, has been selected as the 2018 Gold Medal winner in the category of memoir in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest.

In addition to Sidonia’s Thread, Marcus, a resident of Vernon, is the author of Surviving Remnant. The two books, which recount Marcus’s life and relationship with her mother, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor and master clothing designer and, are part of an intended trilogy.

“I am honored and delighted that my book has been singled out among thousands of entries,” Marcus told the Ledger. “Many readers have commented that they identify with many of the themes in my books, including immigration, single parenthood, creative design and handicraft, and the trauma and triumphs of Holocaust survivors and their children.”

Marcus is currently writing the third book in the trilogy that, she says, “will focus on the impact of my upbringing and the backdrop of the Holocaust in my life and how it shaped me and my place in the world.” She anticipates publication in late 2019 or early 2020.

The Sidonia’s Thread trilogy tracks Marcus’s life with her mother. Born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War II, Marcus and her mother, Sidonia, soon immigrated to Springfield, Mass. Not knowing anyone in America and with no other family except one another, mother and daughter built a world that revolved around Sidonia’s exceptional talent with a needle and thread to create beautiful garments, while Hanna served as her model. It isn’t until Sidonia moves to housing for the elderly that Hanna discovers some of her mother’s old letters and photographs. Only then does she begin to unravel hidden secrets from her mother’s past. A trip to Hungary, together with a phone conversation with the father she never knew, provide Hanna with surprising discoveries that revise her view of her life with her mother.

A licensed social worker with degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut, she has worked for local governments in the state for more than 30 years. Prior to writing Sidonia’s Thread, her first full-length novel, she won first prize in the 2011 Short Story competition of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association.

Marcus has also been invited to contribute a selection of her mother’s designs to a museum exhibit sponsored by Eastern Connecticut State University at the Windham Textile and History Center in Willimantic, the former home of the American Thread Company. Entitled “Crafting a Life: From Holocaust to High Fashion,” the exhibit will run from Feb. 8 to April 28, 2019.

“The exhibit will include up to 50 garments designed and sewn by my mother, Sidonia, during her more than 50 years in America,” says Marcus. It will also highlight “the historical times she lived in, her life as an immigrant and Holocaust survivor, and the importance of textiles in the economic growth and development of New England.”

Marcus hopes the show will become a traveling exhibit with stops across Connecticut, as well as Springfield, Massachusetts, and other parts of the country.

CAP: Hanna Perlstein Marcus

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