Persian Pickle Club
by Sandra Dallas
I wasn’t entirely sure what a Persian pickle was before I started the book, and I’m still not sure there even is such a thing! But, that’s okay because the book wasn’t about Persians, pickles, or even really about quilting (although all were mentioned regularly). The story is about a large group of women, from all generations of life, who come together to fulfill the specific purpose of taking care of one another. Members of the club choose to love and accept each other no matter if they have a large unsightly goiter, are lumpy from having 6 children, are incapable of having children, can’t find a husband, have an abusive husband, or if they receive a ‘special’ visit from the local doctor every afternoon around 5pm.
I have been a participating member numerous different women’s “clubs” throughout the past 12 years (religious organizations, Ladies fire department auxiliaries, book clubs, mothers groups, etc.) and I can safely say I have never witnessed a club with as much loyalty, honesty, and togetherness as the Persian Pickle Quilting Club. The story is told through the eyes of Queenie Bean (How can a book go wrong when the narrator carries a name like that?) who is so loyal and trustworthy she refuses even to drop a hint of what she knows to the readers.
As the Kansas soil turns to dust in the late 1920’s life is disrupted for the “pickles” when a long time member brings her new daughter-in-law Rita to club one week. Rita seems all wrong for the group. She doesn’t like small towns, she doesn’t understand farming, she likes to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, she wears fancy clothes, wears REAL perfume (not just a dab of vanilla), and she can’t quilt a stitch. But most importantly, Rita doesn’t understand the relationship between genuine friends and confidants. In an attempt to land a good job as a newspaper reporter in a nearby town Rita is determined to do ANYTHING to solve a murder mystery. Little does she know that there are more important issues than sharing all the facts with the general public.
If only we could all be loyal and trustworthy to our friends and neighbors; our lives would be vastly different. Now days we not only have a difficult time making friends with women who do not belong to the same demographic as we do, but when we do find a rare catch of true friendship we can’t avoid gossiping long enough to really nurture the relationship. We fail to put in the hours of wholesome conversation and service required to truly learn to love another person. The Persian Pickle Club met together for HOURS on a regular basis to quilt and communicate with one another. When one of them had a trial in life the rest of them were there at the door step with cakes, cookies, and a spare hand to do the chores. They helped each other, loved each other, and protected the sacredness of the group as a whole. Their husbands supported them in their efforts and they knew they were never alone.