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.
Fans of Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts novels will find much to appreciate in her latest effort, the Winding Ways Quilt. Readers are in store for big changes as this season’s quilting camp comes to a close, with longtime member Judy leaving for a great new job and Summer planning to leave for graduate school in Chicago (for real this time). Bonnie is trying to decide how to move forward after her marriage and her quilt shop ended up in shambles, while Gwen prepares for her best friend and her daughter to leave. And new friends are joining this warm quilting circle, including Anna, the master chef, and Gretchen, the new quilting teacher. All the while group matriarch Sylvia is hard at work on a multipaneled Winding Ways quilt, which beautifully illustrates the comings and goings of members of her quilting family. Readers who have not read the numerous previous Elm Creek Quilt books would not feel lost if this were the first one they picked up. Though the Winding Ways Quilt is 13th in the series, it focuses largely on the backstory of the quilters, explaining what brought them to quilting and to Elm Creek Quilts, and how their relationships with each other have changed and deepened through the years. There’s also an important lesson or two about forgiveness and how to move on, from tragedy or just from change. That these women all happen to be quilters makes this story no less entertaining for people who are not quilters. Women who enjoy any kind of crafts will identify with the passion and enthusiasm Chiaverini’s characters have for quilting. Best-selling author Chiaverini has a loyal following of readers who want to know everything that’s happening in the world of the Elm Creek Quilters. She’s also designed a line of fabrics based on her novels. Odds are good that this latest Elm Creek adventure will bring Chiaverini even more devoted readers who can’t wait to find out what happens next.
The Winding Ways Quilt
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.
I enjoyed the way Chiaverini deftly stitched the lives of these two women together. That she chose patchwork and quilting to help tell the story was a special bonus. Tell Sarah and Sylvia I'd quilt with them any day!
— Ami Simms, author of HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR QUILTING STITCH and INVISIBLE APPLIQUE
The Quilter’s Apprentice
After a small holiday novella featuring the Elm Creek Quilters, Chiaverini brings us a much more substantive story featuring a new and exotic location and a new style of quilting. Trying to recover from a marriage that has gone from bad to worse, Bonnie decides to spend the quilting off-season in Hawaii as a consultant for the new Aloha Quilt Camp in Maui. Claire, her college roommate, has retired to Hawaii with her retired military husband, Eric, and has been running a quilt shop. Now she has also purchased a bed-and-breakfast and wants to add a quilt camp. The novel offers a wonderful introduction to Hawaii and the unique tradition of Hawaiian quilting. Bonnie meets the heartbreak of her nasty divorce head-on and learns more about life and forgiveness than she ever imagined possible. In the process, she renews an old friendship and makes some wonderful new ones. Chiaverini also introduces tantalizing hints of what will come next for the original Elm Creek Quilters. She continues to expand her cast of interesting and inspirational characters while imparting a wealth of knowledge about the craft of quilting.
— Judy Coon, Booklist
The Aloha Quilt
As I read Round Robin, I felt I was a member of the Elm Creek Quilters . . . and even shed a few tears. The situations the characters experience are right on the mark. What a delight to find a book so up-to-date with women's personal issues, and working through them in the security of close friendship.
— Harriet Hargrave, Quilter and Author
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.
You can put away your stitching for a few hours and still feel like you're quilting with Round Robin, the second novel about the Elm Creek Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini. Her book lets you join a group of innovative quilters and hear their stories ... As the story progresses, the author lets the round robin quilt the Elm Creek Quilters are making as a surprise for Sylvia illustrate each quilter's approach to her current life situations ... You'll feel you've joined a small quilting group. You'll no doubt find similarities to people you've known and gain comfort in their resolutions while enjoying the progress of the quilt. The most distressing part will be wishing Elm Creek Manor really did exist so that you could sign up for a weeklong quilting getaway!
— Terri Pauser Wolf, American Patchwork & Quilting
I enjoyed every word of Jennifer Chiaverini's story about friendship and forgiveness. She very accurately portrays the spirit and sense of humor of today's quilters. If The Quilter's Apprentice were a true story, I would love to be a part of Sarah's and Sylvia's brilliant project.
— Marianne Fons, author of QUILTER'S COMPLETE GUIDE
The Quilter’s Apprentice
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.