Praise for the Elm Creek Quilts Series
In 1862, war comes knocking at the door of the community of Water's Ford, Pa., and as Union supporters, the local men rally to answer the call to enlist. As their men march off to their unknown fates, the women of Elm Creek Valley are determined to contribute their share to the war effort and use their sewing and quilting skills to craft quilts and other items so desperately needed by their menfolk.
In "The Union Quilters," Jennifer Chiaverini's latest Elm Creek Quilts novel, the women left behind in times of war show their strength and compassion in a fascinating historical story that sheds a new light on the hardships faced at home during the arduous Civil War.
The ladies of Water's Ford each face widely varying yet common fears as the Civil War tearing their country apart rages on. Constance Wright's husband Abel is an accepted member of the community and a skilled rifleman, but is turned away from enlisting simply because he is black. Dorothea's pregnant sister-in-law Charlotte Granger is worried about her husband, Dr. [Jonathan] Granger, who sends comforting, regular updates on the men from home to his wife, but also sends more detailed letters to his former love, Gerda Berstrom, causing ill-will and strife among the two women.
Anneke Bergstrom must face whispers from the town since her husband refused to enlist, preferring to stay out of the fray, and Dorothea Granger Nelson worries about her educated schoolmaster husband Thomas who carried her Dove in the Window quilt into battle with him, not realizing that she was pregnant with their second child.
A patriotic project to supply new hospitals in Washington with quilts bands the women together, and the project turns into an opportunity for them to show they are capable of running their lives, families and community with great success. Though tension and worry reign over the small community, the women do their best to support one another and hold their families together until their men come marching home.
The 17th book in the Elm Creek Quilts series, "The Union Quilters" is a deeper look at the original group of women who began the quilting group that has been the focus of Chiaverini's novels. With a sharp eye to detail and historical fact, Chiaverini has combined the stories of the women left behind during war with how quilting allowed the women to cope to create an intriguing story that is timely with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching. This novel is one of Chiaverini's best works to date.
Another in the fascinating Elm [Creek] Quilts series, this title is set during the Civil War, giving readers a look at the Union home front, with rallies, quilts for soldiers, fundraisers and the ladies who make up the Elm Creek Sewing and Quilting Circle... We seldom think beyond the battles and generals, but the story of the home [front] is a compelling one. Although we might know how the big picture turned out, the individual stories presented here are rivetingly new.
Elm Creek Farm is located in a little valley in Pennsylvania, near the town of Water's Ford. Like the towns around it, most people are strong Unionists and the farm was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Now the townsfolk are getting ready to send their men off to fight. The ladies' sewing circle has organized to send them off in style, with bunting decorating the buildings, a pageant, a parade, and speeches by the mayor and local ministers. Little do they know, but they will need those organizing skills a lot in the next few years. The group is varied — some immigrants, a free black woman, some feminists who believe that would should vote and control property — but they are united in their desire to support the troops.
When letters home describe the lack of supplies and decent food, the ladies rally to quilt blankets and to raise funds for bandages and other necessities. They also must take up the reins of the farms and businesses that the men left behind. Each woman in the circle may have a different strength, but together they are a moving force. And they don't intend to let the town fathers take over their efforts. As the war goes on, and the battles around Gettysburg devastate families and towns, we see the characters of the ladies as windows into the life and times of small-town Northern life.
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is a wonderful novel...Jennifer Chiaverini has researched her history well, and writes elegantly and formally. The perspective is third-person and emphasizes the historical and real over image and gossip. The novel paints a broad picture of what it must have been like to live in America during that age, and revisits the lives of the remaining members of the former First Family after the assassination and the election of the 17th President, Andrew Johnson. We learn of the scandals and motives behind the events that ended the long, very dear friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, and also a great deal about the First Lady and the Lincoln children in the years following the President’s death...Any reader interested in President Lincoln, Civil War history, or historical fiction should love this book.
Rosa Diaz Barclay endured years of husband John's abuse, but one day Rosa realizes it is time to leave. Taking her four children and a few precious family keepsakes, Rosa flees, only to receive some unexpected help from her first love: Lars Jorgensen. Together the two set out to make a new future for themselves in the wine country of Sonoma Valley in Chiaverini's emotionally compelling tale.
Chiaverini continues her appealing Elm Creek Quilts Series with remembrances, regrets and joy. Sylvia Compson is an elderly woman living at her childhood home of Elm Creek Manor in rural Pennsylvania. Along with newlyweds Sarah and Matt, Sylvia has created the Elm Creek Quilt Camp, a summer quilting retreat. When the camp closes for the winter, Sarah, who is estranged from her family, and Matt decide to spend Christmas with Sylvia. The older and wiser woman reminiscences about her decades-long rift with her sister, which lasted until she passed away and Sylvia inherited Elm Creek. Chiaverini's details paint the picture of the loving Bergstrom family seeking to stay together despite tragedy and financial loss. At the center of the family is tradition, especially the making of a Christmas quilt. When Sarah discovers this beautiful quilt, left untouched in an attic trunk for years, she realizes the importance of family and searches for a way to open her heart to the joy of the holiday season. Chiaverini's touching writing transports the reader back in time to a simpler world, where family bonds were a vital part of life. Old traditions and new awakenings combine to reveal a holiday full of hope and promise.
— Romantic Times
The Christmas Quilt
Even a newcomer to the popular Elm Creek Quilts series will quickly get caught up in the lives of the ladies who stitch... [Chiaverini] intensifies the story's texture by retelling key scenes from multiple points of view, and along the way she enriches the reader's awareness of quilting's importance as a female art form and a source of deep common bonds.
— Publisher's Weekly
The Master Quilter
Steeped in rich period detail and gentle romance, this seventh entry in Chiaverini's "Elm Creek Quilts" series wonderfully captures the courage of the Underground Railroad supporters and the runaways who risked everything to find freedom.
— Library Journal
The Sugar Camp Quilt
Chiaverini's first novel is really a story within a story. Sarah McClure, estranged from her mother, newly married and unemployed, reluctantly hires on as the personal assistant to a disagreeable old woman, Sylvia Compson. As the barriers of age, initial dislike, and distrust break down, Sarah learns the heartbreaking secrets of Sylvia's lonely life. The vehicle for their growing friendship is the quilting lessons Sylvia gives to Sarah...There's plenty of folklore about quilting and how these artistic endeavors bring women together in circles of quilting and friendship. Quilters especially will enjoy this story of friendship and forgiveness.
The Quilter’s Apprentice
Jennifer Chiaverini has made quite a name for herself with her best-selling Elm Creek Quilts series. From the Civil War to the roaring ‘20s to contemporary settings, these novels have offered suspense, romance and, at times, in-depth looks into the social, political and cultural differences that helped shape a nation. In the latest Elm Creek Quilts novel, The Union Quilters, readers are introduced to Dorothea Granger—beloved wife of Thomas—as she stands in her kitchen, swallowing her tears, watching the man she loves prepare to cross Pennsylvania to enlist in the Union army in 1861. Dorothea is a true leader in her small town: She’s constantly helping other families, running the sewing circle and even using her home as a station on the Underground Railroad. But having to keep the tears from her eyes as Thomas departs is almost impossible. Constance Wright and her boys live in the small town of Elm Creek as well. Her husband, Abel, is also packing to join the men on their march into battle, but Abel has an obstacle the others do not. He’s African American, and the Union has yet to let men of color wear the blue uniform and stand up for their rights. Among the other residents in town are Gerda Bergstrom, a slightly bitter woman who’s in love with a man she can never have, and her sister, Anneke, whose own husband refuses to join the fight, choosing instead to stand by his opinion that you should never kill your fellow man. Like the quilts that are created by these fantastic ladies’ hands, Chiaverini’s storylines are seamlessly united. Between the sewing circle becoming an organization that will do all they can to support their noble fighting men to the in-depth accounts of frightening battles to the vivid look at the intense prejudice that existed in a world teetering on the cusp of freedom, every moment of this story is truly unforgettable. Chiaverini has once again written an intense and beautiful book—so much so that readers will almost hear the hollow echo of the fife and drum as they immerse themselves in every compelling page.
In her 14th series installment, Chiaverini picks up the threads from The Runaway Quilt to spin another tale of adventure, love, perseverance and, of course, quilting. When Sylvia Bergstrom Compson and her staff find a stash of old letters hidden in an antique desk in the manor's attic, the story whips back to 1859 to recount the travails of the formidable Joanna North, an escaped slave who spent a brief respite at Elm Creek Farm. Joanna is recaptured and sent back to the Virginia plantation she thought she had finally escaped, and is eventually dispatched to Charleston to work under her former master's demanding newlywed niece, Miss Evangeline. As the Civil War looms, Joanna learns that for a slave, nothing—love, family, loyalty—is sacred or certain, and she never ceases plotting her final escape in the patterns of her scrap quilting. This satisfying and redemptive narrative unfolds with cinematic clarity, and Joanna's journey is sure to have readers holding their breath for her until the last page.
— Publisher's Weekly
The Lost Quilter