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The Bowl with Gold Seams

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s debut novel was inspired by an unusual chapter in the history of the Bedford Springs Hotel in Pennsylvania. During the summer of 1945, the State Department selected the resort to serve as the detainment center for the Japanese ambassador to Berlin, his staff, and their families.

The novel tells Hazel Shaw’s story of unexpected personal transformati
Paperback, 215 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Apprentice House Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  95 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Laura Reed
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book from a fantastic author! I've been reading so many long books lately, that it was so nice to read a book that was a little bit shorter but written with such love and intensity. This 213 page story is a gem! ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting story, focusing on a historical event I hadn't heard of before. There's certainly a lot of emotional drama, about the notions of friend vs. enemy, tragedy, and the guilt of keeping secrets and how it affects lives for years afterward. I would've liked to see a little more action as opposed to description, but in the end it does show that even if lives are broken, while they definitely will never be the same and those scars are always there, hope can still come out of it d ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this wonderful historical novel today. I was at a local park where I usually go to walk and take photos of flowers. I was so absorbed with the last 100 pages that I took only a few photos. I stopped 5 pages from the end because I didn't want to let go of the story and characters! The storyline is rich, filled with characters I developed relationships with. I came to really care about them. The historical nature of the story was accurate and filled with the kind of detail that mak ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought this book was fairly good but nothing special. I got it for free in a book exchange from someone who didn't know me, so I didn't have a lot of expectations going in. I was pleasantly surprised to have them exceeded but it's not a wonderful book overall. I didn't develop a relationship with the main character and the plot felt a little stilted and shoehorned. But it was fascinating to learn about Japanese diplomatic detainees in the US, and I suspect telling that story was the entire ex ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting story. Again, reading about something that I have no recollection of hearing about in any of my US History classes growing up. Luckily for me Bedford Springs is only an hour away so we will be going for a tour in September. I did enjoy meeting these characters and reading they’re stories. I don’t know how I would have been changed if I had been in their situation, but I’m sure that experiences like these are life altering.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A new author (for me) whose story is set in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania during WWII mainly. Campbell writes with great description, yet doesn't overwhelm the reader. In 214 pages she wove an intriguing, interesting story about an incident of which I never heard before: Japanese ambassador to Germany and his entourage are kept at this old hotel as possible exchanges for American prisoners in Japan. In many ways it reminded me of "Crystal City" which I read earlier this year. ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I like the part of the story inspired by the Japanese diplomats, their families and staff captured in Berlin being held at the Bedford Springs Hotel in Bedford, PA at the end of WWII. The way the author weaved the story into historical fiction I did not find satisfying. The actions of the characters I did not find believeable. I did finish the book and it held my interest.
Loretta Radeschi
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ellen - I loved how you captured the essence of Bedford during the detainment, the conflict
Hazel Shaw experienced as a Quaker, her husband missing in the
Pacific and her working at the Springs. We each have a ‘story’ and you clearly showed how Hazel’s
‘story’ reverberated even in her sixth decade of life. Thank you for writing a novel I’ll long
Gail Lewis
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A WWII story set in Pennsylvania about Japanese ambassadors and families being detained at a resort hotel after Pearl Harbor. Hazel and her story come full circle as she deals with her memories and how what is broken can be beautiful.
A. Lieberson
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in the structure of the book, a 29 page prologue that told us about an incident at the Quaker school where she was working in 1985 and it is resolved in the epilogue. I also didn't think Hazel Shaw was a credible Quaker woman. ...more
Apr 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting and quick read. Although the book was not long the author incorporated Quaker beliefs, Japanese culture, and enough character development to bring the events to life.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Quick read
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book with a local setting and history.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting setting--the Bedford Springs Hotel, which I have visited.
Story Circle Book Reviews
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
What can make the broken beautiful again? The Bowl with the Gold Seams takes the theme of mending work to a place of new meanings. Ellen Campbell reminds us of how mysterious and important our repair work is, whether we are dealing with shattered lives or ceramic bowls.

The golden seams of the pieced-together bowl on the book's cover are an apt metaphor for the emotional transformation of the book's main character, Hazel, whose life is in pieces after the deaths of those closest to her. By introd
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying the title of this book completely represents the writing in the most perfect way. This novel is a very quick, but deep and detailed. The author basically pulls out a chapter out of a time in WWII and the story surrounds this time. How Hazel was raised and grew up, has her struggling with a decision she has to make later in life. Without giving away any details or spoilers, I would say if you love to read short, detailed stories about the war and the struggles, this is your ...more
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

In the midst of the war there was very extreme feelings about Japanese people and the government decided that sending them away to a camp and then eventually to Japan would help the situation. So a nice hotel in Bedford Springs, PA was a stopping ground before they made their way to Japan.

I was confused for a bit with the prologue taking place in current day and where it fit in the story and even after finishing the book, I am not sure of the inclus
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction at its finest. With the real-world backdrop of the U.S. government's use of the Pennsylvania Bedford Springs Hotel as a detainee center for the Japanese ambassador to Berlin during WWII, Campbell draws us into an evocative time, both innocent and heart-breaking. But what makes it seem truly real are the relationships she creates between a father and child, teacher and student, enemy and friend -- all are equal parts tender and tragic. ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jodi by: Marika
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was an interesting look at World War II and the imprisonment of may Japanese people in the United States. I loved Hazel's kind heart in this book and how she befriended a young child locked-up with little control of her life. I loved their chance meeting so many years later in the book! ...more
Diane King
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A beautiful depiction of another time that seeps into today reminding us that our lives are shaped by our experiences and choices.
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Going to Bedford to talk about this book with a few friends from my old book club. Since it was set there in 1945, there are lots of wonderful references.
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Ellen Prentiss Campbell is the author of Frieda's Song: A Novel (Apprentice House, May 2021), the short story collections Known By Heart (Apprentice House, May 2020) and Contents Under Pressure (Broadkill River Press, February 2016), which was nominated for The National Book Award, and the novel The Bowl with Gold Seams (Apprentice House, May 2016) which received the National Indie Excellence Awar ...more

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