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Review Excerpts

“This brilliant tale of loss and redemption spans four decades, from a WWII-era Japanese detention center to the DC suburbs of the 1980s…. This beautifully structured debut novel magnificently conjures two slices of time some 40 years apart. The frame of 1985 embraces the novel’s inner heart, set in 1945… The stories Campbell tells in this relatively short novel have a lyrical glow; their suggestive details reverberate. Over and over again, her images do the double task of enhancing verisimilitude and extending into complex feeling/tones of yearning and sorrow…The Bowl with Gold Seams is not captured fully by the label “historical fiction,” though it is certainly that. It conveys a shimmering sense of intimacy and an awareness of brokenness on personal, family, community, and even national levels. It moves toward a closure that is not forced or fully realized, and that tentativeness is one exquisite note among many.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

“Hazel Shaw, a Quaker living near Bedford Hills in Pennsylvania, falls in love and has a very brief marriage, as her new husband is whisked off to fight in WWII. She and her neighbors, both Quaker and not, are shocked to hear that the Bedford Springs Hotel is going to house prisoners of war, in particular Japanese diplomats…. This is the story of her experience not only in that role but also as a human being…. Music, poetry, and books fashion bonds that surpass nationality. Loss touches every character and elicits stark questions about loyalty, betrayal, victory and defeat…. It’s been a long time since I couldn’t put a book down because I was so engrossed in the reading…. This is a poignant, beautiful gem of a historical novel written by a skilled author.” —Historical Novels Review

“The larger themes involve wartime dislocation, personal integrity, and intercultural identity… The plot lines focus on forgiveness and finding the Quaker way forward… The writing is sharp edged… The story is articulated in swift bursts of narrative that move the storyline along at a snappy pace.” —The Delmarva Review

“The Bowl with Gold Seams is a fine example of that genre of historical novel based on an intriguing footnote from the past. Like many of these books, what inspired the story may be quite small but it contains within it the echoes of much larger events. Historical fact: in the summer of 1945, the Bedford Springs Hotel in southern Pennsylvania was used as a detention center for interned Japanese diplomats. The novel: Prentiss Campbell imagines the time these diplomats and their staff members spent in the hotel through the eyes of Hazel Shaw, a young woman who volunteers to join the hotel staff during this politically charged moment. Hazel isn’t a disinterested worker, however, as her new husband—who was also her childhood best friend—has recently become missing in action in the Pacific theater.” —Necessary Fiction

“Many poignant themes are beautifully explored throughout — loss and absence, loneliness and separation, kindness and cruelty. faith and hopelessness, love and loyalty, life and death, and of course, race prejudice and hatred… Get the book and read it. You will not be disappointed. You will be surprised and moved.” —Bedford Gazette

“This insightful novel offers a beautiful story of how the way we see things can change. Its themes of fatherly love, confused loyalties, justice, vulnerability, and looking inward to take what’s broken and make it beautiful make this a novel that book clubs will want to discuss….. That it shows wartime and loss with such gentleness and precision is a tribute to the author’s finely honed skills as a critically acclaimed short story writer and to her experience as a practicing psychotherapist.” —Hungry for Good Books? (5-Star Review)

“The author realistically portrays both wartime concerns and the realities of racism in small town America. Campbell, a practicing psychotherapist, subtly warns readers to be aware of politics and its repercussions during any time of cross-cultural conflict…. From the land of earthquakes and survivors of the first atomic bombs, Campbell helps us learn new lessons about the long-term costs of trauma and what can be done to recover our humanity.” —Story Circle Book Reviews

“A story about loyalty and loss, The Bowl with Gold Seams is a moving account of a formative experience in one young woman’s life…. The distance of many years offers a powerful perspective that Campbell expertly capitalizes on. The Bowl with Gold Seams does not shy away from difficult topics, instead presenting a poignant and touching story of how what once was broken can be made beautiful.” —Foreword Reviews

“Ms. Campbell is a gifted storyteller… The Bowl with Gold Seams is a bildungsroman, but it’s also deeply engaged with how we continue to form our moral selves as adults.” —Rosemary and Reading Glasses