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The Scarlet Thread

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When Sierra discovers her young ancestor's handcrafted quilt and reads her journal, she finds that their lives are very similar. By following her ancestor's example, she learns to surrender to God's sovereignty and unconditional love.

462 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1995

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About the author

Francine Rivers

109 books15k followers
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America's coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Twitter: @FrancineRivers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,106 reviews
343 reviews
August 12, 2012
The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers is NOT my favorite book. It probably never will be, no matter how many times I read it. I can't even say I like Sierra, the main character of the novel, or what she does, or Alex, the other main character. Why not? Because reading this book is like holding up a mirror and looking at myself, square in the face. Never did I feel I was inside Sierra's mind, but often I felt she had invaded mine.
This novel actually is a story within a story, telling the story of Sierra along side the story of Mary Katherine. Both left their comfortable life among family to follow their husbands, and did this unwillingly. Though many years separated them, the two stories (Mary Katherine's narrative told through her journal which survived all those centuries) are closer than is comfortable. This clearly shows that humans through the ages have battled the same enemy. Ms. Rivers does not hesitate to write about the hard issues, and does not gloss over the repercussions that might arise from them.
This is truly a romantic story, not so much between husband and wife, though that is definitely there, but between God and His crowning creation. How He pursues us, and uses our choices and decisions to call us to Him. How He is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him at our lowest point, when we feel the most insignificant and always loving us, even when our determination is to have nothing to do with Him.
So even though this is not my favorite book by Francine Rivers, this is one that has a permanent and prominent spot on my bookselves.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,709 reviews31.6k followers
February 17, 2022
2 stars

This is my fifth book by Francine Rivers and I really loved the other books of hers I’ve read. This one… not so much. I get what she was trying to do with this story, I really do. But it was so terribly executed. I am fully for forgiveness and for admitting when you were wrong etc. But the heroine in this book constantly saying she was at fault for her husband’s infidelity really worked me up. Did she play a part in their marriage falling apart? Probably. But anytime someone said something about him it was always ‘It was my fault’ AHHHH. And don't even start me on Anyway, let's hope the next book I read by this author is better because this one was just not good for me.
Audio book source: Hoopla
Story Rating: 2 stars
Narrators: Angela Rogers, Alma Cuervo
Narration Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction
Length: 12h 59m

Profile Image for Jessica.
15 reviews2 followers
September 16, 2013
I didn't end up reading the entire book. Personal preference, but I was horrified when the husband up and announced they were leaving their home, moving somewhere "glamorous", and putting their house of ten years up for sale. With NO forewarning or previous communication. THEN the husband immediately pitches the argument that he's given everything up for HER, maybe she should repay the favor. Um, she's been raising your children and making a home for you for ten years. I don't see how she OWED him! The story gets better. Immediately following a very choppy first 40 pages, they're walking into a beat up 2 bedroom and their older children (a boy and a girl!) are sharing a room. He proceeds to announce he's going out for an hour or two to "talk business" and left her ALONE! THEN the guy (predictably) doesn't phone and walks in after midnight. (She's too forgiving, I would have packed up and left.) He then drags her to a dinner at his new bosses' home, where his extremely cultured and intelligent wife proceeds to make her feel like an uneducated, backwoods moron... and to top things off, her husband has eyes for her. At this point, I predicted that he would leave her for another woman because she was so boring and dull; and, he wanted fresh and interesting. I skip ahead 300 pages. What do I see? Yes, he had left her for a woman named Elizabeth. AWESOME. Really, I'm ranting and raving to my laughing husband at this point, but it gets BETTER- remember, I skipped the 300 pages because it was an infuriating story line, and I've already called it; I tell my husband she's going to decide him being with another woman was ALL HER FAULT. I determine because she didn't full on support his decision to move with no warning, and no conversation, she will take him back. A few more pages ahead aaaaannnnndddddd (drum roll, please!) Yup. She did. (What I failed to mention was that her precious mother supported HIM in the move and then died. He left her to her own vices to heal the pain of the loss of her last remaining parent, which (to me) is atrociously evil.) THE MOST disappointing Francine Rivers novel, and I'm so disgusted. Women as subservient, quiet pawns in the game of men? No, that is NOT how God intended our marriages to be. Please don't let this solitary book be your lone representative of her work!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rissa.
1,380 reviews48 followers
July 8, 2018
Scarlet thread ⭐️

I dont know how she makes me fall in love with the characters so quickly. Everything she writes is pure gold.

She is a rich white girl, he is an average hispanic boy. Their parents dont approve but love is love an unstoppable love.

They get married and start a family and everything is perfect. That is until that unstoppable love sees reality in the harsh world.
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 9 books855 followers
January 30, 2018
I had high hopes for this book due to having enjoyed The Atonement Child and And the Shofar Blew, however, I was disappointed.

There are two stories which are meant to be running parallel and presumably woven together. But, they don't actually fit with each other and could easily be extracted from the book and told independently. The first story is about a gradually declining marriage leading to an affair and the other is told through the journal of a girl that used to live in the first couple's family home. I lost interest in the second story about halfway through the book so skipped over the remaining journal entries. I have read a number of books with two storylines and they really need to either be properly entwined so the reader has to read both or both as intriguing as each other. These were not.

This book was far too long. I am aware that this is a Rivers trait and actually the books that I have previously enjoyed were also long but held my interest.

The main characters were both selfish particularly the husband. The author is clearly making the point that it takes two to cause problems in a marriage and that blaming each other rather than working towards reconciliation is not the Christian response. I agree with this to a certain degree. However, I feel that she goes too far--the husband uproots his family against the wishes of his wife to pursue his selfish dreams. He forces them into a materially wealthy social group that she isn't ready for and begins spending more and more time at work, he ignores her requests to discuss things, his behaviour just gets worse and worse.....I won't ruin the storyline but I think in this case the author has unfortunately made a case for women to allow themselves to be treated like doormats. AND then to take all of the responsibility for the problems.

The Christian message was also somewhat lost. Some of the characters experience something of a conversion which seems to be about falling in love with Jesus rather than understanding the truth of the Gospel. There is no clear repentance or turning away from sin although the characters do refer to changes due to their belief in God. There is also a section about God being found through Catholicism (as well as Protestantism)--it almost reads as if we can get to God any way we like as long as we are sincere. It is not clear that the only way is through Jesus and His death on the cross.

I didn't read the part about a character suggesting that someone who had died may have been saved without knowing jesus due to being sincere which I read in another review...I would have objected to that as well.

I don't recommend this as it is so long and full of arguing back and forth. I wouldn't describe it as profitable or edifying. In a way it reminded me of the Christian movie Fireproof which I do recommend. But in both I don't think the heart issues will be as easily resolved in real life as they seem to be in fiction. The only good point the book made really was that giving up on a marriage isn't the solution and that all things can be worked through with God's help.

There is no bad language, very limited non-graphic violence and some romantic scenes which are not graphic but may make some uncomfortable.

Check out my Francine Rivers shelf!

Profile Image for Jenn.
165 reviews30 followers
June 5, 2008
I just read this book for the second time - I think it's a good portrayal of what can happen in a marriage when both parties are selfish. However, there's got to be some way that people can talk about finding God in their lives without being completely cliche. It's frustrating to be reading along and enjoying the book when suddenly, WHAM, there's a phrase that just makes you groan.

One of Rivers' (as well as many other "inspirational fiction" writers) trademarks is using one phrase several times in one book - for nit-picky readers like me, that can be a death sentence. The phrase "raked his hand through his hair" must have shown up at least 3-4 times.

The transitions between Sierra's story and Mary Katherine's journal are a little rocky at times. I think if Mary Katherine had spelled "baby" as "babee" one more time, I might have put down the book.

The book kept me interested; Rivers is a good writer. I'd just like to see her solidify her writing a bit more.
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,023 followers
September 7, 2016
I'm seeing a disturbing trend among Christian fiction where husbands engage in extra-marital affairs and it's always, ALWAYS ends up being the wife's fault!! ALWAYS! Plus, the women ALWAYS end suffering and losing everything, (pride, dignity, self-esteem), and the husbands get off with no more than a slap in the wrist. And not only that, it's the wife who always ends up apologizing to the husband because it's their fault the husband had an affair. Unbelievable!! I'm all for love and forgiveness but really, where is the justice in all of this?
Profile Image for Oceana.
590 reviews727 followers
July 31, 2021
Of course Francine Rivers can make me cry.
Despite not loving the past storyline, I thought this was a well-crafted story on marriage, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
The way God worked in this woman's life was beautiful and it brought me to tears.
Not my favourite Francine Rivers book for sure, but I would still recommend it.
Profile Image for reeder (reviews).
201 reviews60 followers
August 4, 2019
This is currently my third-favorite romance. But it only achieves bronze medal status because I'm basically carving out my own version of this book by ignoring a couple of major dislikes.

Profile Image for Meredith White.
59 reviews10 followers
September 30, 2011
After reading Redeeming Love, I couldn't wait to pick up another Francine Rivers book. The Scarlet Thread highlights the life of two women, generations apart but of the same family. Enduring differing but similar hardships, it is their ultimate reconciliation with their Savior that binds these two women together. Per the title, the scarlet thread is represented in a quilt made by the earlier of the two women. Interwoven throughout is a scarlet thread representing Jesus/God and is throughout each of the differing patches. In particular, I love how she points on at the end that the final patch is a stone wall with a red thread coming down, representative of Rahab, one of the woman in Jesus' lineage (a harlot) and the rope instructed by the Israelites that she would need to hang from her window in order to be saved - neither woman had been a prostitute in the book, in the typical understanding of a prostitute. On the contrary, both of these women had been hurt by others (and had also done some hurting themselves); however, they had been 'prostitutes' who sold their souls to other gods. It is in the end that they return to Jesus and give their soul to Him, letting down their own scarlet threads, and the presence of the scarlet thread (Jesus) that is throughout their own lives. They make a point at the end of the book - we think that we are in control of our own lives, and that decisions are solely ours; however, Jesus is there, using every situation and choice to bring us back to Him. In that sense, everything does work for good, if we allow ourselves to return to Jesus.

While this book wasn't as engaging and soul clenching as I found Redeeming Love, I can say that I was enraptured by the outcome of the book. There is a way that Francine Rivers writes that tends to stir my emotions, and challenge me to take a deep look inward. In particular, this story is a constant struggle - the later woman finds herself in a place where by worldly standards it would be easier to blame her husband for his own infidelity and not take stock of her own decisions and choices; however, in the end she is brought to the realization of how she herself had a hand in the outcomes, and she too must ask for forgiveness though her sin doesn't seem to be the same equivalent. What a gentle reminder this was to me that sin is sin - there is no varying degree of less bad or worse sin, only the degree of the consequence.

Part of me wanted to argue throughout the book on behalf of both parties - in some cases, I wanted to shout to the second woman (Sierra) to just be honest with her husband and let things go, and on the other hand, I wanted to shout on her behalf, how could someone betray her. Perhaps this is because one of my personal fears is rejection and betrayal. That was eye opening for me, and probably a great reason why I haven't 'put myself out there'. I wonder why this is, because I grew up in a home loved and what I considered accepted for who I was. I suppose that this is something for later soul searching.

Things that I found profound and want to remember about this book:

#1 The sins of the father are on the son: This profound piece of scripture made me consider, what sins have I committed that will be on my children and my children's children? What must I change IMMEDIATELY and repent from in order to absolve this from their future? Also, what sins did my parents commit that might be on me now? Perhaps knowing and understanding may help me to better deal with myself and my own actions.

#2 Weeds in a garden: Gardens are a theme throughout - there is a point where the apparent growth of weeds strikes a point: if we allow the weeds to grow, they will choke the flowers of life. What weeds have I allowed to overrun my garden because of sadness, fear, jealousy, vindication? I think that their are some weeds I need to pull, but I can't do it on my own.

#3 Nothing ventured nothing gained.

#4 Sometimes people need forgiveness more than we need to hold onto a grudge.

#5 So blind to my own pain that I can't see the pain of others: Toward the end of the book, Sierra focuses on her own pain, and how at times she was blinded by her own pain and unable to see the pain of others. Right now, I am so blinded by my pain, and I've wasted precious time that I could have used to ease the suffering of others. For me, I must now put myself aside - I have had plenty of time to nurse my wounds, consider the cost, fixate on regrets and be selfish. How can I allow God now to change my heart into one after His own?

#6 I think I need my own community: Another character in the book, Aunt Martha, is reflected on by Mary (the woman/relative who made the quilt and wrote in a special journal outlining her life roots and her trip across the Oregon Trail). She speaks to her character and how she is adored and revered in the community. A woman of integrity, she is quick to lend a helping hand and slow to gossip or speak poorly of others. Generous to a fault, this woman (who had no children or husband of her own) is who I wish to be - one who is known for her character rather than her tongue, known for her calm rather than her irrationality, known for her quiet rather than her volume, known for her generosity rather than her stinginess and selfishness, known for her lack of fear replaced by the courage of the Lord, and known for her relationship with Christ as center (not as strange). Such a woman - such a model. I think in a sense I need my own community, which is frightening for I know what it implies...

I have so much to learn and so far to go - I think that I will try picking up my journal again and jotting my life down. Who knows, maybe it will serve to support and encourage another young woman in the future. In the meanwhile, I know that my heart was challenged by this book, and I intend to begin with immediate changes. I am thankful to Francine Rivers for using her writing gifts to share these messages with young women like me.

“Life isn’t static, Sierra. Thank God. It’s constantly in motion. Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in currents and carried along where we don’t want to go. Then we find out later that God’s hand was in it all along.” ~Marianna Clanton, The Scarlet Thread

“Oh, Lord Jesus, do {what you did for my mother} for me. Please. You know me better than I know myself. Open the doors and windows and let the Holy Spirit move through me. You are welcome in my house. Come into me, into my foyer and my living room. Wander at will through my parlor and kitchen. Be with me in my bedroom and bathroom. Go through every closet and every drawer, from the basement to the attic of my life. I belong to you, Father. Stay with me forever. Jesus, please remove everything in me that doesn’t glorify you. Make me your vessel.” ~The Scarlet Thread
Profile Image for Leo.
4,177 reviews369 followers
September 17, 2021
As much as I read I hadn't read anything from Francine Rivers before, and that will definitely have to change. In this book she weaves the plot and characters in a very readable and talented way. Didn't know what i enjoyed the most, the plot or the characters. It was so easy getting invested in both
Profile Image for Veronica WordsAreMyDrinkOfChoice.
453 reviews83 followers
May 16, 2019
I enjoyed some elements, and I understand the religious tone and idea of forgiveness, but went too far! Sierra was harsh at times, but I felt her reaction was quite valid as her husband made a life changing decision and told her after! His behaviour when her mother died, and his affair and disgusting words were despicable! Yet everything was somehow Sierra's fault? She was partially to blame, but Alex chose
To lie, have an affair, abandon his wife, barely see his children, call his wife names and insult her, telling her he didn't love her! The cruel things he did was endless! But all excused because he had a change of heart? I think not! Forgiveness I agree, but Sierra should not have reconciled with him,
Too much damage was done! Like she said, is Elizabeth had been a bit stronger would her and Alex still have been together? Things a wife should never have to wonder! Sierra should have chosen Ron!

‘Sierra was packing her bags when Alex came home. He stopped just inside the bedroom door and stared at the two open suitcases on the double bed. “What’s going on?” he said, his face paling. “What’re you doing? Where’re you going?”
“If you’d bothered to return my call this morning, you’d know.” She yanked open a drawer. “I’m going home.” He uttered a soft curse and came into the room.
“Look. Let’s talk about—”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she cut him off.
“My mother’s in the hospital. She has cancer.” She swallowed convulsively as she put a sweater on top of a pair of dark-gray slacks. He let out his breath.
“I thought . . .” He shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said heavily. She spun to face him, pain etched in her features.
“Sorry about what, Alex? That you’re never around when I need you anymore? That my mother has cancer? That all this is going to complicate your precious work schedule?” He didn’t say anything.
(What I didn’t understand about this scene was, he seemed panicked about Sierra leaving him, and he admitted he was trying to get out of the affair with Elizabeth, but he still ditches Sierra just after her mother dies?).

,She looked at him, hurt and embittered. “Where were you? Your secretary said she’d page you. Did she?” “Yes.” “Why didn’t you call me?” “I was busy.” He moved farther into their bedroom. “Look. I figured if it was really important, you’d call back.” She turned back to her suitcase in frustration. “It’s nice to know where I stand on your priority list.” “You want a fight before you go? Is that what you really want?” She went into the closet. When she came out with two more pairs of slacks, Alex was standing in the middle of the room, rubbing the back of his neck. Shaking, she dropped the clothing on the bed. “I needed you, Alex. Where were you?”

‘The telephone rang. She heard Luís answer. After the first word, he spoke in hot, hushed Spanish. The words might as well have been spoken in Greek for all the sense they made to her, but she knew he was speaking to his son. He came into the parlor, where she was sitting. “It’s Alex,” he said and held out the phone. “He’s been trying to reach you.” A lie, kindly offered, but unconvincing. She took the phone and held it to her ear. “Sierra? I’m sorry about your mother.” He was silent, waiting. She shut her eyes tightly. What did he want her to say? Did he think one call and a little sympathy absolved him of days of neglect? She’d needed him. “I tried to call you yesterday, but the phone was busy.”

‘Three blocks away Alex pulled up beside her. “Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?” It wasn’t concern that tinged his tone, but impatience, anger. He didn’t ask if she was all right. “You were busy.” He was always too busy. Alex got out of the car. When he touched her, he did so with gentleness. Then he put his hand beneath her elbow, his expression shadowed with sadness. “Get in the car, Sierra. Please.” She did as he said. Putting her head back against the black leather seat, she closed her eyes, feeling utterly bereft. “What do you think people are saying about us when you just walk out the door without so much as a word to me?” She looked at him. Was that it? Was that why he’d come after her? “Since when did you ever worry about what other people say?” “You ought to care. Those people are family and friends.” “Don’t worry, Alex. I didn’t tell anyone you only called me three times in the past month.” Ron had called more often than her own husband. “The phone works two ways.” “It does, doesn’t it? But then, every time I called you, you weren’t home.” A muscle jerked in his cheek and he didn’t say anything more. When he pulled into the drive alongside the Mathesen Street house, he turned to her. “I’m sorry. Sierra, I—” “Forget the excuses, Alex.” She got out of the car and walked along the cobblestone pathway to the front steps. Fumbling for her key, she shoved it into the lock and opened the door.‘

‘Pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes, she tried not to think about it. “How long can you stay?” she said, hoping Alex would say as long as she needed him. “I made reservations for tomorrow.” She lowered her hands slowly, despair filling her. Alex had given her three days of his precious time. She supposed she should be thankful.’

“Mom and I sat here together only a few weeks ago, before she was too weak to leave her bed.” The cups rattled slightly as Sierra set them down and took a seat. “Roy Lubbeck is coming over at five to go over Mom’s will.” Alex sat down across from her. “I’ll stay another day or two if you want me to, Sierra.” Sure, she thought bitterly, he’d stay and resent every minute of it. She shook her head. “What are you going to do about the house?” “Do?” she said blankly, glancing up at him. “You’re going to have to rent it out or sell it. You can’t leave it vacant. The place will fall apart. The garden’s already going to seed.” She could feel the blood flowing out of her face. “I grew up in this house.” “I know how much the place means to you, Sierra, but you have no idea what it costs to keep up a place like this. Your mother was working on it all the time.” “I buried my mother this morning, and now you want me to give up this house?” “Don’t make it sound like it’s my fault your mother died of cancer,” he said, his eyes glittering. “I didn’t, but it would’ve been nice of you to wait a few days before telling me I should get on with disposing of my mother’s property!” “Está bien, chiquita. Take all the time you need. Stay for another month! Keep the place if you want. I don’t care what you do!” He scraped his chair back and grated out the rest. “Just don’t expect me to foot the bill for maintenance costs and taxes!” He left her sitting at the table.’

“I miss you,” she said softly, brokenly. “I miss the way things used to be.” He looked at her then, his eyes bleak. She knew he was deeply troubled, that he wanted to say something of import. Maybe he was as worried about their marriage as she was. “I’m going to leave tomorrow. I think it’d be better that way. It’ll give you the chance to think things over.” What things? she wondered. The house? Or was there something he wasn’t saying? He left the window. “I’ll go down and tell the others you’ll be with us shortly.” “Alex?” When he turned, she stood. Gathering her nerve, she took the risk and let her feelings show. “Would you hold me? Just for a minute.” He came to her and did as she asked, but she felt no comfort. His arms were around her, but it was as though he withheld himself, his heart.’

“Try to get some sleep,” Melissa said when the mantel clock chimed eleven. Sierra went upstairs to bed. Lying in her canopy bed, she tried to think of happier times. Her mind was consumed with what-if scenarios. When she awakened in the morning, Alex wasn’t beside her. Donning her robe, she came downstairs to the kitchen and found Melissa making waffles for the children. “Have you seen Alex?” she said. “Daddy left for the airport,” Carolyn said, pouring syrup on her waffle. “When?” Sierra said, heart sinking. Had he really left without even saying good-bye to her?‘

“You tell me, Alex,” she said without inflection. When he said nothing, she drew in her breath slowly to keep herself from shaking. “I heard Dolores had to spend four nights with the children while I was gone.” His expression flickered slightly. “And they spent a weekend with Marcia.” A pink hue seeped up from his collar and filled his face. Sierra closed her eyes. She heard Alex come into the bedroom and close the door quietly behind him. When he spoke, his voice was low and heavy. “I didn’t want to talk about this. Not the first day you got home.” He sat down on the bed. “Things aren’t working between us anymore.” She opened her eyes and looked at him. His eyes grazed hers and shifted away. “You don’t understand what’s important to me,” he said. “What is important, Alex?” He looked at her then, coolly. “My work. You’ve resented what I do from the beginning.” “Can you tell me truthfully it’s work that kept you away for six nights while I was gone?” The small lines around his mouth deepened. “We’ve got nothing in common anymore. Our marriage started disintegrating a long time ago.” “We have two children in common,” she said quietly. “We’re married to one another. We have that in common.” “Then let me put it to you straight. I’m not in love with you anymore.”

“I’m sorry, Sierra. I—” “Who is she, Alex?” He looked away from her and sighed. Standing, he moved restlessly, finally stopping near her dresser. “What difference does it make?” “I’d like to hear the news from you before I hear it from someone else.”

“You finally made the grade, didn’t you?” she said softly, hurt beyond anything she could ever have thought possible. Alex turned slowly and looked at her. Sierra watched her husband’s face change. Shock. Pain. Rage. She knew her words had struck true, right to the very heart of the matter. He knew exactly what she meant. The poor farm laborer’s son who had never felt good enough had finally bagged himself a worthy trophy. Beautiful, well-educated, accomplished Elizabeth Longford, daughter of the American Revolution. Maybe he didn’t fully realize she had always understood his insecurities and loved him despite them. Certainly she had never expected to throw them in his face. But then, she had never expected him to betray her with another woman. “Bruja,” he said through his teeth. “And what are you, Alex? A cheat and a liar.” Had Alex been another kind of man, he would have struck her. She saw how much he wanted to. She almost wished he would. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel this sick anguish She’d be glad to see him leave. She wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t feel like he was ripping her heart out. Looking into his eyes, she saw no hint of tenderness or regret. She saw a man determined to be free, eager to be gone. “This farce of a marriage is over!” he said, enraged.’

‘He swore in Spanish. “I’m not coming back, Sierra. You’d better understand that here and now. I want out!”

“You have to move where?” he sneered. “To Healdsburg so I’ll never see my children again! Over my dead body, Sierra! You hear me?” He swore at her in Spanish. He used a word so foul her face heated. “I hear you, Alex, but I’m not—” He didn’t give her the chance to get further than that. Cursing again, he blistered her with the same accusations Audra had leveled at her a few weeks earlier, only adding personal and private faults on top. If Audra’s words had shocked, Alex’s battered and bruised. He meant to annihilate her, and he was doing a good job of it. He spoke in Spanish, which made it all the worse. He never spoke Spanish unless his emotions were out of control. Unfortunately, she understood every single word he said.’

“Because you said you’d never send me another dime, and I thought I’d hold you to your word.” He spat a short, foul expletive. “So what are you going to do, Sierra? Make the kids eat at the local mission?” “I have a job.” “Yeah, right. Working for Ron Peirozo at Los Angeles Outreach. I don’t imagine it pays much.” “I don’t work there anymore.” “Got fired, huh? Well, six months is something, I guess. That’s longer than any other job you’ve held in your life.”

“So, what are you going to do?” Alex demanded when she made no response to his last insult. “I’m going to be a secretary in an insurance agency.” “You’ll last two weeks, tops.” “Is that an estimation of my abilities or of how boring the industry is?” she said, trying to instill some lightness into her tone. “Take a wild guess.” His meaning couldn’t be more clear. “I’ll send you another check, Sierra. You’d better hang on to this one. You’ll need it.”

‘When a check did arrive in the mail two days later, it came in an envelope with an embossed return address that read Madrid/ Longford. She tore up the envelope and check and flushed both down the toilet. She’d stand out on a street corner holding a sign that said Homeless and Hungry before she’d take another nickel from Alejandro Luís Madrid.’

“Why don’t you join us?” Sierra said impulsively. Clanton shot a look at her that would have withered an oak. “He doesn’t play baseball,” Clanton said. He looked at Alex again. “He plays around with other women.” Alex’s face went dark red. Sierra didn’t know if he was embarrassed or ready to explode with rage. “You’re such a jerk, Clanton!” Carolyn said, her mouth trembling. “Shut up! What d’you know?” “I know more than you do!” she said, her blue eyes filling with tears. “Elizabeth said—” She broke off, paling at the look on Clanton’s face. “You little Judas!” Sierra could feel the blood draining out of her face. Was that where Alex took their daughter on Saturdays? On excursions with his mistress? Clanton took a step toward his sister. “Why don’t you move in with them, you little—” “That’s enough, Clanton,” Alex said, steel In qhis voice. He barely spared a glance at Sierra, and she was glad of that. The last thing she wanted was for him to see how much it hurt to know Carolyn had been spending time with Elizabeth Longford. “You’d better learn to accept things as they are.” “I don’t have to accept anything, least of all you. You’re a cheat and a liar, and I wish you and your girlfriend were dead!” He took off across the baseball field toward Dennis and the other members of the team.’

“He hurt my mother,” Clanton said. “Every time he calls, he hurts her.” Sierra blinked back tears. “I hurt him, too, Clanton.” “Not like he did.” Clanton struggled to contain his emotions, torn between love and loyalty to her and love for his father.’

“He’s not repentant,” Clanton said. “Are you?” Clanton fought to hold his tears back. “He’s still living with her!”

“I love you so much, and I’m sorry I’ve made a mess of things.” “You didn’t.” “Oh, Clanton, there’s so much you don’t understand. I pushed. I pushed so hard for so long for what I wanted. I never stopped to consider what your father needed. Please don’t do the same thing. You’ll end up losing him the same way I did. He needs you, Clanton. He needs to be able to love you.”
(This was so unjust, a parent is meant to fight for their child and their love is meant to be unconditional. You should never have to earn a child to get over something or their parent will give up on them or leave them!)

“It would’ve been easier on everyone if I’d done as you asked in the first place. I was hanging on to my anger. And false hopes. I know now it only made things worse. For everyone.” He looked at her for a long moment. “You’ve changed.” “I hope so.”

“I’m going to six o’clock Mass.” He looked old—old and hurt—and she loved him unbearably. She kissed his cheek. “We’ll meet you there.” He cupped her cheek. “My son is a fool.” Sierra’s eyes filled. “No, Papa. I was the fool.”

“What happened?” Sierra said when Clanton unlocked the door and walked in at three in the afternoon on Saturday instead of ten in the evening when Alex usually brought him home. “He dropped me off,” he said, slinging his backpack onto the wing chair she’d just finished recovering. “Did you have a fight?” “Not with him.” The look of defiance on his face and swelling across his left eye made her stomach drop. Had Alex hit him? “Did you say something to Elizabeth?” “Yeah, you could say that, but she said something to me first.” “What?” “She told me to take out the garbage.” He gave a defiant snort. “Yeah, right, like I’m the one living there all week. I told her she could take out her own trash. I’m not her personal servant. Then she launched into this lecture on how she had to give up every Saturday with Alex so he could be with his snarly, snot-nosed son.” She could feel the heat of anger rising and fought to remain calm. “Were those her exact words?” Elizabeth worked with Alex every day of the week. She spent every night in his bed. She had him all to herself on Sundays. And she was complaining about the one measly day a week he spent with his two children? Didn’t you? “Close,” Clanton said, giving her an odd look when she winced. “She called me a ‘half-breed.’ So I told her what she was.” “Oh, Lord,” Sierra murmured and sat down on the couch. “What did you call her?” “You know what I called her. I said it in Spanish, but I guess she got the point. What did you expect? She started in on you.” His eyes glittered. “She said the reason Daddy left was because you were a dull housewife with no brains and no class. And it looked like I took after you. So I told her she wasn’t any better than a common hooker, just a little more expensive on the upkeep. She slapped me across the face and called me a ‘foul-mouthed, uncouth little wetback.’” His eyes lost the heat of anger and glistened with hurt. “I didn’t see Dad standing in the doorway. I’ve never seen him look so mad. He told me to get my things. He was taking me home. And she just stood there, smirking.” Sierra ached for him. She remembered the way Alex had looked at her the day he’d left. She’d never known a man whose eyes could be so hot and cold at the same time. “Did he say anything to you on the way home?” “Nothing,” he said softly. He turned away slightly, but she’d already seen his tears. “I’m going to my room.”

‘Clanton straightened, a carton of milk in one hand and a Tupperware container of cold homemade enchiladas in the other. “He said he wasn’t mad at me, but it was going to be a week or two before he could see me again.” “And?” “And, that’s it.” He shrugged, set the milk on the counter, and put the entire Tupperware container into the microwave.’

‘Alex didn’t call. He came by. Not on a Friday evening, but on Saturday in the pouring rain. She heard the doorbell ring and Carolyn and Clanton talking to someone.’ (Now just intruding on their lives as he choose

‘She looked over her shoulder and saw Alex leaning against the doorjamb, watching her. “I wasn’t expecting you.” Amazing how calm she sounded. “I know.” His glance flickered over her.’

“What do you and Audra talk about?” he said carefully. “We don’t talk about you, Alex. That was one of the first ground rules I laid down.” She shrugged. “She broke it last week.” “Did she tell you what happened?” “She said Elizabeth quit and went back East.” “I moved out after the little altercation with Clanton.”

‘Color came into his face and a look of bleakness. “I’m not busy now. I’m going to be working a lot less at the office. I’ve already talked my plans over with Steve. He’s putting up the money for the equipment. It’s already ordered. All I need is a place to put it.” Why hadn’t he made the same arrangements a year ago? It might have saved their marriage.’

These are so many more I could include, but I have not got enough space. I understand forgiveness, but Alex went on for nearly a year being nasty and selfish, he was in my opinion emotionally and verbally abusive to Sierra. He also neglected his children and put his affair before them when he leaves!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Leila.
77 reviews
September 22, 2009
What can I say? I don't expect a ton from Francine Rivers. The most interesting parts of her books are people's conversion stories. That's where this one disappointed. Everything happened "too easily" and all the resolutions to each problem (that took HUNDREDS of pages going through each minor issue) took only a handful of pages to resolve. I didn't feel that any of the characters grew, they just shifted into these obvious molds. The moral of this story is unfortunate as well...it seems that no matter what your husband does against you, you had a hand in it by "not being the perfect wife." The dialogue is also cheesy, especially from a religious standpoint. Yes, I believe in some of what she's saying, but do I really thinking my marriage is a "three way love triangle with God"? There is too much emphasis on "falling in love with Jesus" and not enough on what it actually means to be a Christian. It seemed that her conversion just meant that she reads the Bible all day, and randomly exclaims: "But don't you see, Alex? God is sovereign!"

Not to overly complain, but the two stories that are supposed to be "woven together" don't actually have much to do with each other. Yes, each woman was upset about moving. But one was irrational, and the other one totally rational. I think we were supposed to understand a lot of things from the quilt, which was never properly described until the end. I felt like I was being told what the book was all about, instead of (to use an old writing cliche) being shown what was going on.

Not her finest work, and I'm not sure I'll be reading any more.
Profile Image for Christine Indorf.
661 reviews106 followers
October 2, 2020
If I could I would give it 4 1/2 stars. Francine wrote a similar book to this one, the Shofar blew Both books have a spouse that falls out of love and turn to other woman. This one was even harder because the husband wanted a divorce to be with the other women. I like watching the female character go from things to things to try to be happy, but when she found Christ everything made sense. Can a relationship that falls apart so badly finds it way back. Can Christ do all things? I also like how they show how a divorce affects the whole family. I knew I would like it because its Francine Rivers but I was really good read!!
Profile Image for Melissa (LifeFullyBooked).
4,483 reviews1,605 followers
August 31, 2020
Such a beautifully written book. I wasn't sure I was going to like it but I honestly loved it. Rivers knows how to incorporate a theme that will resonate with readers.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
3,993 reviews314 followers
March 30, 2020
"When Sierra discovers her young ancestor's handcrafted quilt and reads her journal, she finds that their lives are very similar. By following her ancestor's example, she learns to surrender to God's sovereignty and unconditional love."

I should have taken the last sentence of that synopsis as a red flag, but when I had the chance to read this book after coming across it in a Little Free Library, I just couldn't pass it up because I love historical fiction, and regardless of whatever issues I have with the author's stories, her historical research and description are lovely.

I should have known. After reading Redeeming Love by the same author and being disappointed at the contrived, shoved-down-your-throat Christian message amidst people making shitty choices, I hoped this might be better. It was not. Apparently God just wants women to be doormats, because the husband walks all over his poor wife, uproots the family, cheats on her, etc etc etc, yet she's supposed to be in the wrong for being angry. God apparently just wants her to forgive everything he put her through. Turn the other cheek and all that shit.


There are some situations and instances where sure, forgiveness can/should be asked for, and deserved/earned, but there are some situations where it is absolutely justified to be angry and withhold forgiveness, especially when the transgressor continues to make shitty choices. FGSFDS.
Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,339 reviews961 followers
February 17, 2022
The Scarlet Thread was originally published in 1996. I know 26 years ago the world was different BUT I almost didn't get past the first chapter because of the racial words used by Sierra's father towards her boyfriend. The father did overcome that but it was jarring to read.

The couple, Sierra & Alex, were not likable characters, for me. They spent about 90% of the book with their marriage-in-crisis and/or them not being together at all.

There's a separate storyline that happens throughout the book. It's a journal of one of Sierra's ancestors who is on a journey to Oregon. Their stories somewhat parallel each other with their struggles.

● Christian fiction
● marriage-in-crisis
● Sierra & Alex
● cheating
● 2 timelines:
-2nd story told through an old family journal
-Mary Kathryn (her ancestor)
- journey on the Oregon trail
● standalone

Audiobook source: Hoopla
Narrator: Angela Rogers & Alma Cuervo
Length: 12H 58M
Profile Image for Emilee.
461 reviews86 followers
April 26, 2021
Wow! Francine Rivers is seriously one of the most talented writers out there! She’s really got it together. That being said her amazing books are just not what I typically look for in a novel. Also, I have noticed I have a pattern on not really meshing with books that have dual time lines.

I think anyone who reads this story can relate in some way. I know I can empathize with Sierra. When life doesn’t go how we thought it would or if we think we deserve better God has a way putting things in our lives to bring us to Him or closer to Him. The whole book is beautifully woven together just like the quilt.
Profile Image for Mandy.
25 reviews
June 25, 2012
‘… it is the men who dream of Oregon. It is as though Heaven itself beckons them and we must all cross hell to get to it.’

Set across different centures, The Scarlet Thread follows the lives of two women who are joined through an old, tatty journal as they each grapple with their husband’s ambition.

Twenty-first century woman Sierra Madrid is less than thrilled when her husband Alex announces that he has accepted a job offer which means they must move hundreds of miles to Los Angeles. She is so upset about the family being uprooted that she fails to see how God could have a hand in any of this, despite her mother’s insistance that God has a plan for her life. Suspicious of her husband’s new work colleagues and superficial new friendships, Sierra begins to feel like an uneducated country bumpkin and, therefore, worthless in Alex’s eyes. In her loneliness, she turns to an old family journal – wrapped in a scarlet-embroidered quilt – and finds her life becoming intertwined with her ancestor Mary Kathryn McMurray.

Mary is a feisty young woman whose husband James insists on travelling to Oregan in a covered wagon in the 1840s. Like Sierra, Mary is reluctant to uproot her family and move hundreds of miles away. But she has promised to obey her husband and so – with bad grace – she packs up and prepares for the long, dangerous journey through Indian territory with her young family.

The hardships for both Sierra and Mary are real, and there are many ups and downs for them. They doubt themselves, their husbands, and God. But eventually, they each come to recognise that God really does have a plan for their lives. Mary’s faith journey is carefully embroidered in scarlet thread onto a ‘friendship’ quilt. It’s only when Sierra submits herself to God’s plan for her life and learns to forgive and be reconciled with Alex that she understands what the scarlet-embroidered quilt means.

I loved this book. Any wife will identify with some of the things Sierra and Mary go through with their husbands; every marriage has its ups and downs. The fact that it is set in two different times drew me like metal to a magnet – I love this type of storyline. Like all of Francine Rivers‘ books, there is tragedy, drama, love, forgiveness, grace. Wondering how Sierra and Mary will cope with each new incident that comes along kept me turning the pages, eager to read on. Skillfully written, it brings history to life while showing us modern-day women that we can learn from the past.
Profile Image for Sarah Miller.
491 reviews37 followers
February 16, 2012
I am facing an upcoming move with my husband, and a friend of mine saw how much I was struggling with it, and she gave me this book to "help." She had the best of intentions (I think).

While the story was completely captivating (I read it in 2 days), and I felt so attached to the characters, there were a few prevalent themes to this book that really bothered me.

1. The main character, Sierra. Where do I even start with her? She was bland, boring, and I could not understand why Alex was so "madly" in love with her. She repeatedly stated how uneducated she was, how much she loved carpool (she called it the "joy" of motherhood), and how she hung out in sweats and sneakers every day (even at fancy parties). I think the author was trying to make her appear low-key, but she was also super-whiny and pouted throughout the first 3/4 of the book. She was pissed her husband surprised her with a new BMW and new house.

2. Their marriage was sad to see. He informed her they were moving AFTER he took the job and set up a realtor to sell their house. He informed her they had to live in an old apartment. He completely ignored her as her mother died and she became depressed. I felt pain with her as he ignored her and emotionally abused her. But I also wanted to just punch her in the face as she laid back and took it. Then, when he had an affair, she came to the realization that it was all her fault for not supporting him more, and of course... he magically had a drastic character transformation and they got back together in the last 20 pages or so.

3. Basically, this is just another perpetuation of the terrible concept that women have to take a constant backseat to their husband's wishes, desires (he "needs" love, so will get it from his 26-year old office assistant?), and emotions. Women should be seen, but not heard. They should raise the children, follow their husband's commands, and have no thoughts or inputs on their lives.

(I think my husband would die of boredom if I demonstrated any of those character traits)

I understand my friend's helpful desire to encourage me to support my husband's move. But then she asked me yesterday, "Wasn't it so life-changing to see how much men need love, and how it's often the women's fault they stray and marriages go bad?"... and I just had to tell her that it was certainly an interesting perspective that I really don't agree with...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kitty.
Author 1 book42 followers
September 29, 2016
This is one of the most horrifying books I've ever read. Even more horrifying are all the 5 star reviews on it and women saying that it saved their marriage or changed their life.

This is a story of a woman being emotionally abused by her husband, and God (and His noble messengers) telling her to suck it up and stop being such a whiny fucking bitch. That's it. That's the book. She gets back with a man who makes major life decisions for their family without consulting her, blames her for everything, verbally abuses her (saying every horrible thing and misogynistic slur he can think of), disparages her parenting, her decorating, her social life, every little choice she makes. She is hurt and confused by his coldness, the way his work (and even his brand new car) are way more of a priority than her or her children, his abandonment of her while her mother is dying, and his infidelity, but things get cleared up with a woman who treated her like an idiot for not being bourgeoisie calls her up and tells her she's a spoiled brat for not being happy for the man who is mistreating her and her children. There's more but why would I go on? This should be enough.

Yikes, Francine. Are you okay? How is your marriage? Why are you so obsessed with heterosexual age gap relationships working out? Why couldn't she have married the millionaire who treated her like a goddess? What is the matter with you? Do you realize what you're modeling for women? You need to read Right Wing Woman by Andrea Dworkin. You drive me fucking crazy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amy.
578 reviews20 followers
July 19, 2012
For me the Scarlet Thread made sense. I could certainly relate to Sierra, her feelings about moving across country away from family and the life that they had established in her home town. I could also relate to her husband's need for adventure, feeling like he needed to better provide for his family and follow his dreams. I don't think it is always easy for a wife to follow her husband. And many times it takes lots of work on our attitudes when we are faced with those kind of decisions. In light of the fact that Sierra didn't appear to be a Christian at the time, or at least had not had a personal relationship with God, it is even more understandable that she would feel the way she did. I think the author portrayed things that many people go through in their marriages, although most would not want to admit it. We all have ups and downs, times of neglect, or getting our priorities twisted. I appreciated the fact that she did not cast all the blame on the husband or the wife, but it was shown more as a joint lack of prioritizing each other. The ending certainly made it worth the read! I would read it again, and recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Liz.
82 reviews4 followers
November 7, 2021
Francine Rivers did it again. I loved the characters. It took me almost to the end of the book to like Alex but I got there. I felt James was very selfish. I just could not believe how rough it was on the Organ Trail. (I will have to do some research on it.) all in all very very good. I definitely would rate it 4.5.
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,545 reviews78 followers
February 2, 2021
I'm sorry to say that this is my least favorite Francine Rivers book thus far. There are a few things I could have done without but mostly the whole unraveling of their relationship and the results got to me. I also didn't like how it was "resolved". I needed a little more.
Profile Image for Elya.
27 reviews1 follower
June 16, 2008
I read this book every time I have moved or go through some sort of big change. The theme of God working through all things is a very encouraging one for me.
Profile Image for Eli.
268 reviews62 followers
February 8, 2022
Ahora si ya procesé la historia, y llegué a una conclusión de cuánto ponerle. Para mi, es la historia más entretenida que leí de Francine hasta ahora, muy probablemente porque es contemporánea y no histórica. Pero, como mensaje y contenido de la historia, estoy cansada de Francine y la construcción de sus personajes femeninos vs masculinos.

Personalmente, al no estar casada no puedo entender completamente, pero si me han engañado con terceros en noviazgos que tuve, y es un dolor muy profundo. Y creo que el enfoque estuvo en que Sierra mejorara y entendiera al salame de su marido y de la NADA su esposo la ve con otro y decide cambiar y tener un relación con Jesús (odie la escena donde el como un nene de jardín, decide romper los papeles y decirle "si queres divorciarte vas a tener que hacerlo vos", bue hablemos de actitudes toxicas).

Entiendo los fallos de Sierra también, y me alegró que ella pudiera procesar todo y ponerse en la brecha para no separar a sus hijos de su padre. Entendí que ella decidiera darle una oportunidad a su matrimonio, si eso me pasara, desearía poder trabajar en re construir el matrimonio.

Pero, creo que Francine crea hombres con complejo de héroe y las mujeres son siempre las que tienen que hacer procesos de mejoría para poder estar con estos hombres y darles oportunidades. Cuando en la vida real, los hombres tiene tantos problemas emocionales como las mujeres.

En fin, me generó muchas emociones fuertes, me pareció interesante la historia, pero estoy re podrida de Francine como "reina de la ficción cristiana". Acá Dios fue medio un recurso que hay que agregar para que suene cristiano, que el centro y generador de cambios en los personajes.

2 estrellas (no 1, porque la historia me hizo sentir y pensar)
Profile Image for Danielle.
290 reviews
October 26, 2011
This book certainly was not what I was expecting. It tells the story of Sierra Madrid (a name I found painful to constantly read), a woman who has it all until her husband decides to take a new job in a city far from their hometown. This event begins a journey down a long road of hurt, betrayal, and redemption. While reading about Sierra's life, we also read along with her as she goes through the diary of an ancestor whose circumstances mirror Sierra's in many ways.

This book was painful for me to read because I have gone through a divorce. If anything, Francine Rivers is the queen of realistically barabed conversations between people in relationship. You can feel the wounds the words inflict, and that is hard to go through as a reader. The first book I noticed this "talent" in was Her Mother's Hope, and at least in that book the pain was worth it in a good story. In this book, the redemption doesn't bring nearly enough soothing to those wounds that the reader has taken, in some degree, with Sierra. I wouldn't say Sierra was worth it as a character to go through that experience with her, if that makes sense.

In other books by this author I have felt an element of spiritual growth, but I cannot say that for this book. This is not one that I'd recommend for another reader.
Profile Image for April Jones.
217 reviews4 followers
January 18, 2022
I usually do not care for books with dual timelines, and I can only recall one book in which I liked the modern timeline as much as the historical one. This book is the absolute exception. It is centered around a busy wife and mother, so I was able to relate to it from the start. Some might say it is too preachy, but I could also relate to the war within oneself that the characters were facing. The story illustrates how emotions can be so frustrating and conflicting and how they can cloud your judgment, so even though the characters didn't always make the decisions I wanted them to make, I felt a great deal of sympathy for them. The author kept the pace of the book alive by telling the story set in the past through a series of journal entries written by the main character of that timeline, who was quite funny and spunky. Overall, I loved this book and would recommend it to most any busy mom.
Profile Image for Priscilla Lee.
55 reviews11 followers
August 30, 2017
I rated this two stars because I didn't think this book was bad and deserved one star. I finished it and that says something but I don't think this will ever be a recommendation I give to others. It's a slow read without surprises. I knew exactly how the book was going to pan out from the first 50 pages and I was spot on.

If you have nothing else to read then this novel will do but please know it is nothing like Francine Rivers' previous novels A Voice In The Wind or Redeeming Love.

QUESTION: Sierra's mother said she couldn't find anything regarding Mary's son, Joshua. Does anyone know why the author did this? She didn't mention anything else regarding her other 4 children so I was confused why she pointed out Joshua. Is he a descendant of the American Revolution's daughter?
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