Praise for the Elm Creek Quilts Series
3 out of 4 stars. If you saw Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and wondered about the black woman who sits next to Mary Todd Lincoln (played by Sally Field) up in the Congressional balcony, here's your book. A former slave, Elizabeth Keckley was a remarkably gifted seamstress who established herself in Washington, D.C., in 1860. Thanks to a recommendation from one of her clients, Keckley came to the attention of Mrs. Lincoln. Jennifer Chiaverini conveys Keckley's strength, religious faith, compassion and skill with the needle, qualities that made her invaluable to the unstable, insecure first lady. The dressmaker also became part of the Lincoln family inner circle, and so, through Keckley's eyes, we see Lincoln's presidency. We also see the widowed Mrs. Lincoln's tragic collapse. The result: an effortless history lesson filled with details about the intricate art of sewing 19th century women's clothing, as well as African-American life.
THE RUNAWAY QUILT is a fascinating tale, exploring women's roles in our past and present. Jennifer Chiaverini will surely garner a large audience with this one.
— Jo-Ann Mapson, author of BAD GIRL CREEK and ALONG CAME MARY
The Runaway Quilt
Patiently piecing scraps of material, the quilters explore both women's lives, stitching details and solutions together slowly but with courage and strength. Chiaverini, a quilter herself, has pieced together a beautiful story in this first novel. Sarah and Matt are a charming couple who prove that problems really do have solutions. Women -- daughters, sisters, and mothers -- will enjoy it. Recommended.
— Library Journal
The Quilter’s Apprentice
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)
Nuanced... a welcome historical.
— Publishers Weekly
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
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
Chiaverini delivers another satisfying Elm Creek Quilts story in the latest title in this excellent series. “Quiltsgiving,” held after Thanksgiving for Elm Creek campers, is tied this year to Project Linus, the organization that makes blankets for critically ill children. Updates on the recurring characters, including Sarah and Sylvia, are present but take a backseat to the engrossing stories of six women attending the retreat. A young woman uses the camp for a college service project while recovering from a leg injury. A librarian camper recounts her fight to keep her branch open amid censorship and budget cuts. Others deal with loss, including one woman who missed out on a job at Elm Creek. This volume features the series at its best, with warm, fully realized characters and powerful themes. The Project Linus and quilting details provide a nice overlay but do not overpower the story, making it enjoyable even for nonquilters. Debbie Macomber fans will enjoy this series.
The Giving Quilt
Chiaverini combines patchwork quilts, the season of giving, and friendships into an uplifting Thanksgiving tale filled with the holiday spirit and good storytelling.
The latest in the Elm Creek Quilt series explores the lore surrounding the use of quilts to signal runaway slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. Sylvia Compson, owner of Elm Creek Farm and the last of the Bergstrom family line, is intrigued when a quilting student shows her a quilt that complicates the family legend of her ancestors' involvement in the Underground Railroad. She finds old quilts hidden away in the attic, accompanied by a memoir written by Gerda, the spinster sister of the Bergstrom patriarch. The quilts and the memoir raise questions about the Bergstrom family's history that trouble and intrigue Sylvia. Chiaverini switches between passages in Gerda's memoir and current-day events at Elm Creek Farm, including genealogical and historical research, taking the reader back and forth between the present and the past to reveal a long-forgotten family secret. Fans of the three previous Elm Creek Quilts novels will enjoy this latest installment.
The Runaway 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.