Excerpt from The House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The House of Tailors

by Patricia Reilly Giff

The House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff X
The House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2004, 176 pages
    Aug 2006, 176 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Mama was sympathetic. "I know it takes forever to do all those buttons when you'd rather be--"

Reading the letter that's propped up on the fabric table was what I wanted to say. "Having morning muffins," I said instead so that I wouldn't be accused of having more curiosity than Ksnig, our cat.

My eyes kept going to the letter that had arrived this morning: a tissue-thin envelope covered with stamps from America. Mama had said, "I'm too busy adding the braid to Frau Ottlinger's skirt to open it. It has nothing to do with you anyway, Dina." But she smiled to take the sting out of her words.

And my older sister, Katharina! She didn't have as much curiosity as the piece of tailor's chalk on the table. With barely a glance at the letter, she had picked up a package of flannel sheets, neatly hemmed, and gone out the back door to deliver them to a family on Mettau Street.

I was on the fifth button, holes newly drawn in, when at last Mama stood up, arching her back and running her hands over her waist as she left the sewing room for the kitchen. I'd have about three minutes alone while she stirred the soup and added the marrow balls she had prepared an hour ago.

Out of my chair in an instant, I picked up the letter, which crackled in my hand, and tried to read the words through the envelope.

In my mind was a picture of the uncle who had sent it: Mama's rich older brother, who lived in luxury. No wonder! Everyone who lived in Brooklyn, New York, probably did. After his first wife died, he had married again and sailed immediately for America. How romantic it was. I hadn't seen him since I was a little girl, but I imagined him handsome and funny, and the young second wife, Barbara, slim and lovely.

I held the letter up, turning it one way and then another. The name Katharina jumped out at me. "Katharina," I said aloud. "What is he saying about Katharina?"

And I was caught, of course.

Mama plucked the letter from my hand.

"Well, what do you think it says?" I asked.

"I know what it's about," Mama said, "and Katharina does, too."

"Why don't I know? Why is it that everything is kept from me?"

Mama shook her head impatiently. "Nothing can be kept from you for very long." She sighed. "My brother is offering Katharina a place with him and his wife."

I sank down on the chair, my heart thumping in my chest. "And I? Will I go with her?"

Mama shook her head. I could see she felt a little sorry for me. "Only Katharina."

Katharina to go to America! I loved my older sister; she was my best friend. Katharina to go, and not me?

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff. Copyright © 2004 by Patricia Reilly Giff. Excerpted by permission of Wendy Lamb Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women & Power
    Women & Power
    by Mary Beard
    The treatise Women & Power: A Manifesto discusses a scene in Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus&...
  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.