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The Button Collector

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  226 ratings  ·  48 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, Ca
Paperback, 322 pages
Published May 6th 2013 by Cup of Tea Books (first published April 29th 2013)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  226 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Craftnut -
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book of memories. Caroline inherits a jar of buttons, and as each button is drawn from the jar remembers in a vignette from her life, the dress that button came from, the blouse her cousin wore, the trials and triumphs and tragedies of a lifetime. Through those short stories of memories, the reader is given a picture of a family love and loss, and coming to terms with the past. Highly recommend, easy reading of short chapters, but difficult to put down. You may neve ...more
Jun 02, 2015 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'
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, somet
Mar 29, 2013 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
Julie Beardwell
May 04, 2013 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. Whe
Bobbi Reed
May 09, 2013 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 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 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 01, 2013 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
Apr 14, 2013 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 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!
Jun 26, 2015 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.
Bella Bartels
May 31, 2013 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!
Katherine Matthews
May 16, 2013 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.
Deborah aka Reading Mom
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.
Robin Lucas
May 07, 2013 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!
Oct 01, 2014 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.
Apr 15, 2013 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!
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book. Interesting story line, quality writing. Here is an author who knows her craft.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It was a little hard to follow with all the people and the different time periods. But once it settled down it was an interesting read of a family's history told through buttons
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the story behind each button....but wasn't too impressed by the focus on Caroline and Gail. Seemed out of touch with the rest of the story. I have my mom's buttons and this is why I read it.
Lizzy Baldwin
Jul 21, 2015 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 i ...more
Apr 01, 2013 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 m
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jun 07, 2015 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 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
Laura Templeton
Apr 29, 2013 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
Chrissy Disibio
May 25, 2015 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 a ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Jun 20, 2015 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
May 05, 2013 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 culm ...more
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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 Un ...more
“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?” 4 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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