Praise for the Elm Creek Quilts Series
[An] enlightening new historical novel...Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker vividly imagines how the Civil War touched daily life in Washington.
Pieced together more like a quilt than a driving narrative, Chiaverini's 13th novel centered around the quilting circle of Elm Creek, Pa., finds change afoot. Chapters center on the circle's various members, with a focus on backstory. First-time readers are thus not left out in the cold as Judy and her husband, Steve, prepare to leave for new jobs and lives in Philadelphia; Summer begins grad school in Chicago while boyfriend Jeremy's graduate work keeps him near Elm Creek Manor; ... Bonnie isn't sure she wants to reinvent the quilt shop destroyed by vandals; and newcomers Gretchen Hartley and Anna Del Maso join the staff of the quilting camp. The section dealing with Gwen's detective work aimed at discovering the creator of a quilt rescued from a church basement lost and found is the most powerful and poignant in Chiaverini's latest patchwork confection.
— Publlisher's Weekly
The Winding Ways Quilt
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’s sparkling new historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, is set during the War Between the States, but its subject is a different type of civil war: that between two intelligent, politically savvy women.
Nuanced... a welcome historical.
— Publishers Weekly
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
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.
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
Circle of Quilters
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
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
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