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 with stories about Danny’s family history. 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 a love-letter to Jamaica, told in a heartfelt yet humble, candid and relatable way. The reader will learn about 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. Melville speaks openly about privilege, legitimacy, prejudice, colour and class and gives us a rare glimpse into the high society lives of white colonial and post colonial Jamaicans including his own. As Danny puts together the puzzle of his ancestry, he 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’s a story of generations – of both the Bostitch and Jamaican histories and the little known history of a great American inventor and the company he founded.