Circle of Quilters
The ninth novel in Jennifer Chiaverini's much-loved Elm Creek Quilts series is a beautifully crafted patchwork of friendship, romance, and suspense.
Elm Creek Quilts, the thriving artists' retreat at Elm Creek Manor, stakes its sterling reputation on the creative energy and collective goodwill of its teachers and students. But when two of its founding members decide to leave the fold, the Elm Creek Quilters face untold changes not only in their lifestyle but also in their business. As the news spreads, a single question emerges: Who can possibly take their place?
An Elm Creek Quilter must not only possess mastery of quilting technique, but teaching experience, a sense of humor, and that intangible quality that allows an individual to blend harmoniously into a group. With high hopes, Elm Creek Quilts posts an open call for applicants.
Suddenly, quilters everywhere are vying to land the prestigious post. Among the candidates are Maggie, whose love of history shines through in all her projects; Chef Anna, whose food-themed quilts are wonderfully innovative; Russ, the male quilter whose pathbreaking style could lend Elm Creek Quilts an intriguing aesthetic departure; Karen, a novice teacher whose preternatural gifts complement her deep understanding of the quilters' mission; Gretchen, the soulful veteran with a legacy steeped in traditions quilting.
"We must evaluate all of the applicants' qualities," advises Master Quilter Sylvia Compson. "Our choice will say as much about us and what we want for Elm Creek Quilts as it says about those we decide to hire." In the course of the members' careful deliberations, cherished memories resurface and inspiring visions for the future take shape. Only by understanding the meaning of what their own labors have wrought can they select the ones who have earned a place among the Circle of Quilters.
The lives of four women and one man are much improved by quilting in the eighth installment of the Elm Creek Quilts series. Elm Creek Quilt Camp, housed in the Pennsylvania manor house belonging to founder Sylvia Compson, is looking for two new instructors to join its family. Out goes the advertisement, and soon a gaggle of quilters respond-the reader is privy to the trials and tribulations of five, each quilter linked by their interview at Elm Creek. First in line is Maggie, who, inspired by a dusty old quilt found at a garage sale, embarks on a lifelong journey to research the quilter's life. Now a quilter herself, as well as lecturer and author, Maggie would be a prestigious addition to Elm Creek-and just in time, as she's about to be downsized from her day job. Karen Wise is next interviewed in an encounter that would make any mother cringe with sympathy. A stay-at-home mom, Karen is feeling restless, inadequate and just plain tired of baby talk all day. Childcare problems arise, forcing Karen to bring the boys along, with alternately hilarious and disastrous results. Anna shows up next, with a plate full of cookies in the shape of quilting blocks. An appropriate gift, for not only is Anna a chef by trade, all of her quilts are depictions of food. Anna's tale focuses on her rotten relationship with boyfriend Gordon, an academic who thinks of her as a lunch lady and her quilting as antiquated woman's work. Russell is the sole male applicant, and much of his experience in the world of quilting is dominated by his feelings of exclusion. Brought to quilting after the death of his wife (in his grief, he finishes her last quilt), Russ becomes an artist, exhibiting his pieces in galleriesand lecturing on technique. Lastly is Gretchen's touching story of a life of hardship and unpaid loyalty, offset by the joy and companionship quilting has brought. Apparently quilting makes the world a better place. Diehard fans may want more than mere cameos from their favorite characters, but overall, a pleasant addition to the series.
— Kirkus Reviews
Chiaverini's Elm Creek novels are an original series and a fabulous addition to the genre. Her latest is a true delight, complete with fascinating characters from all walks of life. Readers will enjoy this novel and its well-written descriptions of the craft of quilting.
— Romantic Times
A couple of surprise openings at the artists' retreat familiarly known as Elm Creek Quilts brings a host of intriguing candidates.
— Library Journal