Praise for the Elm Creek Quilts Series
Chiaverini has an impressive ability to bring a time and place alive, showcasing the effects of Prohibition on farmers in Sonoma Valley. The wine country of California is a popular setting for novels right now, and it is fascinating to get a look at the history of the place.
When Rosa learns that her abusive husband has fallen in with bootleg mobsters and that there are guns, money and liquor in her barn, she takes her two children and the money. They assume new identities in San Francisco with Rosa’s childhood sweetheart, Lars, and learn of a possible treatment for the children’s mysterious illness. However, they’re paying the doctors with stolen gangster money and know they are being hunted. They end up settling in Sonoma Valley, where they hire out as farm hands. Their new friends will change their lives and make them committed to their new home, but the tightrope between the mob and the revenuers is a hard balance. Can Rosa and Lars make a family together and get a second chance at happiness? (DUTTON, Feb., 416 pp., $27.50)
Chiaverini steps away from her popular "Elm Creek Quilts" series to explore this relationship in this absorbing stand-alone historical novel. Taking readers through times of war and peace as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary woman, the author brings Civil War Washington to vivid life through her meticulously researched authentic detail. Chiaverini's characters are compelling and accurate; the reader truly feels drawn into the intimate scenes at the White House. Historical fiction fans will enjoy this one, while Chiaverini's devoted readers may be adventurous enough to try something new.
— Library Journal
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
The Union Quilters is Jennifer Chiaverini’s newest novel, the 17th in her popular Elm Creek Quilts Series.
It takes a step back in history to the remarkable women who lived in Elm Creek Valley in Pennsylvania during the Civil War. The reader meets ancestors of some contemporary characters created by this author who skillfully blends quilting and history.
She will appear at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch for a reading, questions and answers and signing.
It’s not necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one. It’s a complete tale in itself, starting with the colorful endpapers that illustrate special quilt blocks these women used. Several of Chiaverini’s earlier books were set during the Civil War and characters reappear here to continue their stories. Some, for instance hosted runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad network.
The Union Quilters takes place in a rural Pennsylvania valley — and with northern soldiers in the thick of battle, in a rustic hospital and more. She has obviously spent untold hours in researching the accounts of life at that time and historical detail is woven in with character development. (She writes that she lives in Madison, Wis., and has access to the fine university library there.)
Families are left with the women in charge when men leave for war. They decide to build a meeting house where they can work together, raise money to help their soldiers and host educational programs. Capable women that they are, they determine to operate it themselves, to the consternation of the mayor and town council.
Though each has an individual story, they sew and knit and quilt and gather food to send to the men at war. And to socialize and lend each other support.
Each character represents a way of thinking, a facet of political thought of the time and for those who have read other novels in the series, there may be connecting threads. The situation of the one black family tells another piece of the town’s story, as does that of the German-born husband who doesn’t believe in war.
The Union Quilters is well-crafted and will interest historical fiction buffs as well as quilters. Those who are new to the series will probably next want to look up earlier titles with various settings and timelines.
Chiaverini spins a bunch of compelling yarns and expertly weaves them together.
— Kirkus Reviews
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
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.
All the characters are brilliantly written, and readers will enjoy getting to know each and every one of them. [Chiaverini] brings to life long-forgotten snapshots of America’s past with style, grace and respect.
— RT Book Reviews
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
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
While searching for decorations on Christmas Eve, Sarah finds a lovely unfinished Christmas quilt. Elm Creek master quilter Sylvia knows the quilt's history and narrates several tales of holidays past, recalling how many times the quilt had been pulled out of storage to be completed, only to be forgotten until next year as a family drama unfolded. Eventually, the quilt was put away for good, not unearthed for over 50 years. Will this be the year it is finally finished, under happy circumstances? With eight books in the "Elm Creek" series, libraries should plan on demand for Chiaverini's latest, but even readers unfamiliar with the series will enjoy this charming story of love and family.
— Library Journal
The Christmas Quilt
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
Circle of Quilters