“Chiaverini stitches together a series of lightly interlocking contemporary vignettes in an intriguing way and manages to tuck away all the ragged edges in the emotionally satisfying conclusion...A gentle exploration of tragedy, hope, the power of Christmas, and the possibility of miracles.” —Kirkus
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini celebrates Christmas, past and present, with a wondrous novel inspired by the classic poem “Christmas Bells,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
In 1860, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family celebrated Christmas at Craigie House, their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The publication of Longfellow’s classic Revolutionary War poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” was less than a month hence, and the country’s grave political unrest weighed heavily on his mind. Yet with his beloved wife, Fanny, and their five adored children at his side, the delights of the season prevailed.
In present-day Boston, a dedicated teacher in the Watertown public school system is stunned by somber holiday tidings. Sophia’s music program has been sacrificed to budget cuts, and she worries not only about her impending unemployment but also about the consequences to her underprivileged students. At the church where she volunteers as music director, Sophia tries to forget her cares as she leads the children’s choir in rehearsal for a Christmas Eve concert. Inspired to honor a local artist, Sophia has chosen a carol set to a poem by Longfellow, moved by the glorious words he penned one Christmas Day long ago, even as he suffered great loss.
Christmas Bells chronicles the events of 1863, when the peace and contentment of Longfellow’s family circle was suddenly, tragically broken, cutting even deeper than the privations of wartime. Through the pain of profound loss and hardship, Longfellow’s patriotism never failed, nor did the power of his language. “Christmas Bells,” the poem he wrote that holiday, lives on, spoken as verse and sung as a hymn.
Jennifer Chiaverini’s resonant and heartfelt novel for the season reminds us why we must continue to hear glad tidings, even as we are tested by strife. Reading Christmas Bells evokes the resplendent joy of a chorus of voices raised in reverent song.
In Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini imagines the profound and complex relationship between beloved First Lady Julia Grant and the courageous, resourceful woman who was her slave.
In 1844, the shy Missouri belle Julia Dent met Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant, a brilliant horseman and reluctant soldier. The two fell deeply in love, but four years passed before Julia’s father permitted them to wed. The groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony.
Despite her new husband’s objections, Julia kept as her slave another Julia, known as Jule. Since childhood they had been companions and confidantes; Julia was gifted with prophetic dreams, which Jule helped her interpret. Julia secretly taught Jule to read, while Jule became her vision-impaired mistress’s eyes to the world. But beneath the gathering clouds of war, the stark distinctions between mistress and slave inevitably strained and altered their tenuous friendship.
As Ulysses rose through the ranks of the Union army during the Civil War, he often summoned Julia and their four children to join him at military headquarters. The general’s wife rarely failed to bring her favorite maid along, tearing Jule from her own beloved husband, whom she had secretly married in defiance of the law. Both women risked certain danger as they traveled to and from the field of war, but for Jule, the hazards of travel also brought knowledge and opportunity.
Even as Julia Grant championed the Union cause and advocated for suffering women on both sides of the brutal conflict, she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind federal lines—until the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation inspired Jule to make a daring bid for freedom. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle the singular relationship of these two remarkable women, bound by light and shadow.
Congratulations to the winners of the Elm Creek Quilts Gift Wrap Giveaway: Nancy McGuire and Donna Barrett! Thanks very much to all who participated—and please visit my blog again for another fun giveaway to be announced very soon.
When my friends at C&T invited me to blog about their latest product from the world of Elm Creek Quilts, my two sons agreed to help me introduce it to you. And so it’s with great pleasure that Nicholas, Michael, and I present the Elm Creek Quilts Gift Wrap Book.
Each attractive, cleverly designed book contains twelve sheets of premium quality gift wrapping paper, three sheets each featuring one of four beautiful quilts from my most recent pattern book, Loyal Union Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts. Here we find Nicholas and Michael selecting their favorite design.
The tear-out sheets are so easy to remove from the book that, as you can see, even a child can do it. (I happen to believe that these two particular children are extraordinarily talented and clever, but I may bit a bit partial.)
What better way to celebrate the release of the Elm Creek Quilts Gift Wrap Book than with a giveaway? Nicholas and Michael would love to send an autographed copy of the new gift wrap book and an autographed copy of the pattern book that inspired it to one lucky reader. To enter, simply comment here on this post by noon Central Time on September 30, 2014 and tell us what favorite gift you enjoy wrapping up and giving away to your best quilting friends. One lucky winner will be selected at random to receive an autographed copy of the Elm Creek Quilts Gift Wrap Book and the Loyal Union Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts pattern book. Remember, all comments must be posted by noon Central Time on September 30, 2014 to be eligible. After you’ve posted, I hope you'll visit my website and Facebook page for all the latest news on my novels, quilts, new releases, and travels. Nicholas, Michael, and I wish you good luck and happy quilting!
Today is the official publication day of my twenty-third novel, Mrs. Lincoln's Rival, a new Civil War tale I hope you'll love. RT Book Reviews calls it "a wonderful novel," the Columbus Dispatch praises it as "sparkling," and regarding Mrs. Lincoln's Rival as well as my previous two historical novels, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, "In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years."
Mrs. Lincoln's Rival is a fictional account of the famous First Lady’s very public social and political contest with Kate Chase Sprague, memorialized as “one of the most remarkable women ever known to Washington society” (Providence Journal).
Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights. Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society and as a future presidential candidate. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her “the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her.”
None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln.
The book tour for Mrs. Lincoln's Rival will begin on Tuesday, January 14 in Madison, Wisconsin, and will take me to several wonderful bookstores and libraries across the country. Please visit the Events page to see if I'm coming to a town near you.
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