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Lost Stitches : The Bostitch Legacy and My Crazy Jamaican Family - Daniel Archer Melville

Lost Stitches

The Bostitch Legacy and My Crazy Jamaican Family

By: Daniel Archer Melville

Paperback | 30 December 2020

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Danny Melville was content with his laid-back life in Jamaica. He spent his days playing polo with friends and other locals at his famed Chukka Cove, sipping on rum or maybe a Red Stripe, and living every day to the fullest. He knew how fortunate he was to have this life of privilege, which came from old family money: a legacy from his American great-grandfather Thomas Briggs, who over a hundred years ago perfected and mass-produced the stapling machine and made his Boston Wire Stitcher Company, which came to be known as Bostitch, a household name worldwide.

Beyond that, though, Danny knew little about Briggs, Briggs's daughter Berenice (Danny's grandmother), or any other relatives outside his own immediate family, for that matter. And in all honesty, he really wasn't all that curious about it - until the day a stranger walked onto his polo grounds looking for him. That's when a seed was sown. The man knew a lot about Danny's family history - and wanted to tell him all about it. He especially wanted to tell Danny about the secret life of the man Berenice had married: Danny's grandfather, Harold Melville. What the stranger revealed was so shocking that Danny would eventually be drawn into a tangled family web that he became determined to unravel.

Lost Stitches is a remarkable book that's part family memoir - full of family intrigue and heartbreak - part American history, part romance, and part love-letter to Jamaica. Told in a heartfelt yet humble, candid and relatable way, Danny recounts the amazing legacy of great-grandfather Thomas Briggs and how it was that his heiress daughter, a debutante of Boston society, came to marry Danny's grandfather Harold Melville and move with him to Jamaica to raise a family. Then there are the scandalous stories told of 'The Major' - grandfather Harold Melville, and his seemingly many progenies within and outside his marriage; the tragic stories of the Bostitch sisters Helen and Berenice; of kissing cousins Harold and Josephine, outside families and children, lawsuits and affairs. Danny speaks openly about privilege, legitimacy, prejudice, colour, and class and gives a rare glimpse into the high society lives of white colonial and post colonial Jamaicans.

As Danny puts together the puzzle of his ancestry, his admiration for his great-grandfather, Thomas Briggs grows with every piece of newly traced information. Not so for his grandfather, Harold, who turns out to be a pretty unlikeable character. But his grandmother Berenice is someone Danny wishes he could know better. And ultimately, getting to meet them all through exhaustive research and interviews, Danny learns a lot about himself. He understands why he has done certain things, and behaved in certain ways.

Lost Stitches is more than a reclamation of family history. It is a story of generations and of both the Bostitch and Jamaican histories.

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