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The Button Collector

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  193 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
On a gray day at a gritty flea market, Caroline stumbles upon an unlikely treasure—jars and jars of buttons in a dazzling kaleidoscope of colors.
She is reminded of something she has made herself forget—she too has a jar of buttons, an inheritance from her mother, which Caroline has put on the back of a shelf, out of sight, out of mind, out of her life.

That night, Caroline
Paperback, 322 pages
Published May 6th 2013 by Cup of Tea Books (first published April 29th 2013)
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The Button Collector by Elizabeth   JenningsSouthern Mystical Moments by Patricia H. GrahamHillbilly Tales from the Smoky Mountains - And Other Homespun... by Patricia H. GrahamPast, Present, and Promises by Patricia H. GrahamNew Yesterdays by Jim L. Wright
southern fiction
1st out of 42 books — 91 voters
Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuireEntwined with You by Sylvia DayReckless by S.C. StephensDown London Road by Samantha YoungNever Too Far by Abbi Glines
2013 Release books to read
92nd out of 1,027 books — 2,299 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 08, 2015 Sarenna rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 mostly because this isn't really my genre and I can't hold that against the author.

The book starts out with Caroline meeting up with a woman at a flea market and purchasing a set of buttons, which reminds her of the jar of buttons her mother left to her after she died. The story then revolves around this jar of buttons, each button bringing up a memory and telling a story, providing insight to Caroline's family.

What I liked was that Caroline's family wasn't over the t
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
4.5 stars
A wonderfully woven story created over an original and interesting set of circumstance. When Caroline finally decided to look at the jar of buttons that she got from her late mother through her inheritance she never imagined the path it would take her down. When she opens her jar of buttons she also opens up the details of her family's past. This novel is full of heart and really highlights the power of memories, the powerful connection we have to the objects we own and how, sometimes,
Mar 31, 2013 Lorri rated it really liked it
The Button Collector, by Elizabeth Jennings is a book that I enjoyed from the first page to the last. From buttons to memories, the stories that are woven are reflective of how an item can spark a memory.

The buttons that are contained within a jar, left to Caroline Tilgham, by her deceased mother are a metaphor for life lived and the choices one makes during their lifetime, choices that caused consequences a person might wish to forget. Memories often fade with time, and one incident can spark l
Julie Beardwell
May 04, 2013 Julie Beardwell rated it it was amazing
Like many crafters, I have a big jar of buttons sitting on the shelf in my study. Until now, if I've given them any thought at all, I've thought of buttons as decorative and useful. However, a new novel has made me look at them in a different light.
I was privileged to be sent an advance copy of ‘The Button Collector’ by Elizabeth Jennings. The novel begins when the central character, Caroline, visits a flea market and comes across a stall selling jars of buttons in a myriad of colours. When the
Bobbi Reed
May 09, 2013 Bobbi Reed rated it it was amazing
The Button Collector is a book to curl up with—and into. Caroline inherits a jar of buttons from her mother, a collection compiled over generations from the cast-off clothing of her family. Each button inspires a story from the past—some from Caroline’s point of view, other from her mother, her cousin, or other family members. A few of my favorites (without giving any spoilers): “Kitty Hawk” in which a tragedy changes the family, “Sign Watching,” which gives a very real portrait inside the mind ...more
May 07, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A jar of buttons, collected over the years, is bequeathed to Caroline upon her mother’s passing. Caroline sorts through the buttons while simultaneously sorting through her feelings about her mother and her family. Each button inspires a piece of the saga of her family, and the great pleasure in this book is the reveal. With each story, a character comes into view, the dynamic of the family becomes clearer, a piece of history is set in place. Some of the stories are heartbreakingly sad and some ...more
Kimberly Jo
May 18, 2015 Kimberly Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Mother's Tin of Buttons

I almost passed this book by thinking,"How exciting can a button collected be?" Then I remembered the tin of buttons my mom had and how I loved to play in them and decided to read the book. It was awesome! Maybe because I could relate to Caroline so much. Instead of it being a cousin my mom wanted, it was my best friend. My mom has been gone almost twenty-nine years and my wolves are not calm. I hope I can find that tin of buttons...
L.A. Frazier
May 06, 2013 L.A. Frazier rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!! Beautifully written. The story unfolds in a series of stories all related to buttons Caroline, a young woman, pulls from a Jar left to her by her mother. We learn the story of the tragedy that set up the situation that has colored the lives of Caroline, her mother Emma and her cousin Gail. In the end of course healing is set in motion and the world comes right - not perfect, but right. Kudos to Elizabeth Jennings for such a wonderful book!
Katie Winkler
May 28, 2013 Katie Winkler rated it it was amazing
"The Button Collector" marks an extraordinary debut--a collection of interwoven stories, a novel of special places, special people--at once unique and yet familiar. Its Southern settings enhance its universal appeal.

Just finished re-reading "The Button Collector," and so glad I did. Wonderful book. Especially struck this time by how well Jennings captures family relationships--mother/daughter, sister/brother, especially.

D Bish
May 09, 2013 D Bish rated it it was amazing

Like pouring buttons out of a jar – I was mesmerized by one story after another. Each revealed a part of the history that starts with Emma and her brother and ends with Caroline and her cousin Gail. I will be recommending this novel to my book club for our August selection. I suggest you do too!
Margie Van Evera
Jul 01, 2015 Margie Van Evera rated it really liked it
A wonderful read about a woman finding out how she really fit in with her family members; and the relationships with family members. The catalyst for her reminiscing and remembering past events in her life is her deceased mother's jar of buttons. She sifts through the jar remembering buttons from clothing of her relatives. This story was heartwarming and reminds me of the box of buttons from my grandmother that I have in my own sewing room.
Robin Lucas
May 10, 2013 Robin Lucas rated it it was amazing
I'm not big on long reviews. I liked this book. The premise of having a story for each of the buttons was interesting. With my busy life it allowed me to read a little bit at a time and actually feel like I had another piece to the puzzle with each story. Elizabeth Jennings did a great job!
Katherine Matthews
May 16, 2013 Katherine Matthews rated it it was amazing
Once I stepped into Caroline's world, I was hooked. Reading this book was like sitting down with a plateful of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Once I polished off one delicious chapter, I could hardly wait to take a bite out of the next.
Bella Bartels
May 31, 2013 Bella Bartels rated it it was amazing
Buttons are such little things - but they can hold big memories. I enjoyed the way this novel unfolded, story by story. Families are always complicated, especially mothers and daughters. If you have a mom or a daughter - this is a must read!
Aug 31, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. The story kept shifting time periods and characters, which might be confusing or distracting in another book; in this one it fit since the buttons were examined randomly, thus their stories and memories were varied as to person, place, and time--in this instance it worked well.
Jun 03, 2013 Joanne rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book. Interesting story line, quality writing. Here is an author who knows her craft.
Jun 06, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book and all its southern charm. The concept of bringing something as simple as buttons into the story of a family's life and heritage is beautiful!
Jan 10, 2015 Brenda rated it it was amazing
I will never look at a button the same. When it comes to reviews,sometimes it is best to keep it simple: This is a good book and one I will share with others.
Lizzy Baldwin
Jul 21, 2015 Lizzy Baldwin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from the very beginning, for a start the characters are warm and deeply described. Caroline is a difficult character to read at first as she comes off as a little cold and difficult to read but we learn that family relationships have created this tension. The supporting characters are also built up with strong character profiles; Gail is conscientious with a strong moral compass but there is a desire to break from this mould creating an unbalanced but riveting character, Emma ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
The Button Collector is a book about little things that can come to stand for big ideas and anchor us to life and to who we are. In a beautifully written novel, Elizabeth Jennings presents a woman’s history and life choices through a jar of buttons she inherited from her mother.
The novel starts when Caroline finds a set of buttons in a flea market. These seemingly inconsequential items evoke memories that compel Caroline to take out the forgotten jar of buttons that used to belong to her mother.
Jul 15, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Finished The Button Collector last night. I did love that book. I like the method of story-telling used in this book - we, the readers, have snippets from lives shared with us and we are expected to put it all together. This feels for me much more like how we experience any story in life than a linear narrative does.
Slowly, through the telling of the stories of the different characters, we are exposed to the multifacetness (not a word but should be) of humans, relationships and family.

It is hard
Jun 08, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely story that somehow left me depressed.

Carolyn finds a jar of buttons that had been collected by her re-read mother. The story is told in vignettes as she sorts through the buttons: a turquoise button from her mother's beach robe; a navy button from her cousin's Catholic school uniform; a plain white button from one of the shirts her father wore to work. Each button triggers a separate memory and story, and together the stories weave the history of this family. Carolyn is the daughter who
Jayne Bowers
Sep 05, 2013 Jayne Bowers rated it it was amazing

Every family has its stories, and I loved the author's novel approach of using a series of button-related vignettes to share events and changes in the life of her family. All families have sadness, pain, death, and challenges. They have periods of closeness and of separation, and yet despite time, distance, and even death, there is a connection between family members. Just as buttons hold clothing together, Emma, Gail, Hank, Miranda, Charles and the other family members are held together by the
Jul 16, 2013 Kathleen rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
I enjoyed this book. It was a fast read and well written. The characters were really well formed and the author hit the relationship between the protagonist and her mother right on the head. I could just picture their facial expressions as the dialogue unfolded. But, overall I felt like the book was really just a lot of short stories complied into one book. Granted, they all related to each other as they were all regarding a member of one family. But in the end, I kept waiting for one final ...more
Laura Templeton
Nov 19, 2013 Laura Templeton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful book. Each chapter, introduced with a sketch of a button, centers around memories that surface as the main character, Caroline, sifts through the long-neglected button collection she inherited from her mother. Through the buttons, a compelling story unfolds about the intricacies of family relationships. A tragic event in the family’s past is revealed, along with the threads that connect it to Caroline’s future happiness. A debut novel from a talented southern ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Jun 20, 2015 Richda Mcnutt rated it really liked it
Even an ordinary button can call to mind a garment or the person that wore that garment. The author pulls together a somewhat-history of a family through a jar of buttons, giving individual members a chance to make themselves known to us. It's skillfully executed, leaving you with a feeling that you have come to know these people in a very short time and without excessive description. Their vulnerabilities endear them to the reader, and their faults are treated gently. A very enjoyable book that ...more
Chrissy Disibio
Jun 13, 2015 Chrissy Disibio rated it liked it
This started out as a really interesting concept. One jar of buttons, years worth of memories. It got me wanting to collect my own buttons to remember memories later. One thing I didn't like was how when it went back in time to a memory sometimes it wasn't sequential so I got confused on time frames. I also normally like books told in various perspectives but this got confusing to me how much it went back and forth. I also felt some of the stories didn't really finish up the point of the story ...more
Lynn Bartels
May 12, 2013 Lynn Bartels rated it it was amazing
The Button Collector deals with the relationship between a mother and a daughter - so I thought that Mother's Day was an appropriate date to publish this review. I love the premise of a story for each button. Each time Caroline pulls a button from the jar we get one step closer to understanding the whole story. This was a good read - and if your children get you an e-reader for Mother's Day or a gift card from a bookstore - go get this book - you will be happy you did!
Sep 11, 2016 Lana rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Jennings takes a simple jar of buttons and weaves stories that build the reader's understanding of her character. With each button that Caroline holds in her hands memories are stirred and a story emerges. The author writes beautifully. Looking forward to more!

I received a copy of The Button Collector through a Goodreads Giveaway.
Sharon Brewer
Jun 13, 2015 Sharon Brewer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the buttons!

I enjoyed the way the author used buttons to tell the story. Caroline has a button collection left by her mother. As she goes through the buttons, they remind her of certain events and people. This book had my attention right from the beginning. I would recommend this book to all readers who like stories dealing with family relationships.
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Elizabeth Jennings has worked as a features writer, copywriter, tutor, and adjunct instructor, but first and foremost, she is a reader on the hunt for the next great story. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, including Prime Number Magazine, Apalachee Review, and the children’s magazine Ladybug. A native of Clemson, South Carolina, she earned degrees in English from The ...more
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“She opened up the glass jar she kept spare buttons in and began sorting through them. It was like handling bits and pieces of the past—buttons from loved ones’ dresses and suits and coats carefully gathered up and saved for future use. She had inherited many of the buttons from her mother and grandmother, even her Great Aunt Maggie. Each woman adding to the collection, like curators of a family museum. Now what would happen to them?” 3 likes
“It’s been four years, and it’s still impossible for me to believe at times. After all, it shouldn’t be possible, should it? It simply should not come to pass that the presence you’ve known since before your birth just disappears. The person who first held you, the person who got up in the night with you, who knew how to drive you to the edge of crazy and then bring you back to safety again … how can a person like that just be gone?” 0 likes
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