The Christmas Quilt
"The captivating story unfolds at a perfect pace. GRADE: A" – Ft.Worth Star-Telegram
"This redemptive novel beautifully threads together pieces of Sylvia's life story while celebrating the strength of women, sisterhood and friendship. Wrap this one up for a cherished friend."
– The Virginian-Pilot
Jennifer Chiaverini gives her fans a long-hoped-for holiday-themed story in THE CHRISTMAS QUILT, a heartwarming novel filled with the memories and traditions of Elm Creek Manor's indomitable master quilter, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson. Infused with wisdom and rich with the flavors of the holidays, THE CHRISTMAS QUILT is a timeless tale that Elm Creek Quilts devotees are sure to cherish.
With her eight Elm Creek Quilts novels -- which the Dallas Morning News has deemed "classics of their kind" -- New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini has inspired a legion of devoted readers by blending old-fashioned storytelling with a celebration of traditional women's arts. Chiaverini gives her fans a long-hoped-for holiday-themed story in THE CHRISTMAS QUILT, a homespun novel filled with the memories and traditions of Elm Creek Manor's indomitable master quilter, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson.
It is the morning of Christmas Eve at Elm Creek, and Sylvia is resisting the efforts of Sarah, her young partner in the Elm Creek Quilt Camp enterprise, to infuse the Manor with a bit of Christmas cheer. Sylvia, opinionated to the last, thinks that Sarah and her husband Matt should spend the holiday with Sarah's intractable mother, but Sarah insists that Sylvia should not be on her own. Reluctantly, Sylvia agrees to Sarah decorating a few of the rooms, but when the women retrieve the boxes of Christmas ornaments from the attic, it opens an unexpected floodgate of memories and emotions for the aging matriarch.
Among the decades-old Christmas decorations, they find a long-forgotten, unfinished Christmas quilt. With bittersweet nostalgia, Sylvia admires the work her Great-aunt Lucinda and her mother, Eleanor, did on the project -- including intricate Feathered Star blocks and graceful appliqued clusters of holly leaves and berries -- but derides her sister Claudia's second-rate contribution. Only two years apart in age, the sisters always had a fractious childhood relationship, which becomes a focal point of Sylvia's memories of Christmases past.
Her reminiscences begin during the Great Depression, when the once grand Bergstrom traditions needed to be curtailed for the first time. The ensuing years will witness the premature death of her kind-hearted mother, the loss of a beloved cousin, and the disruption of the family-rending Second World War II. Throughout, the domestic arts handed down to each generation of Bergstrom women remain a sustaining constant, including quilting, knitting, and baking -- especially their unrivaled Christmas strudel.
As the years pass, Sylvia and Claudia remain locked in battle, until a final family tragedy separates them forever. Now, as the only surviving Bergstrom, Sylvia begins to come to terms with her emotional ambivalence, brought to the fore by the Christmas quilt that inextricably ties her and Claudia together. But while it is too late for a Bergstrom rapprochement, Sylvia realizes it is not too late for Sarah and her mother to avoid making the same mistakes.
"Jennifer Chiaverini is one of the most compelling storytellers. . . . She makes her characters and plots so real readers feel as if they have stepped back in time," the Green Bay Press-Gazette has said of the Elm Creek Quilts series. Infused with wisdom and rich with the flavor of the holidays, THE CHRISTMAS QUILT is a timeless tale that Jennifer Chiaverini devotees are sure to cherish.
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
Quilts are more than blankets; they are story, memory, tears and legacy woven into patterns. Jennifer Chiaverini, the author of a series of Elm Creek Quilts novels, has expanded her literary legacy with this heartwarming story with a message: 'You can give someone the riches of the world, but it is an empty gesture if you withhold the gift of yourself.' Blocks of an unfinished quilt and secrets and tears that have haunted the Bergstrom family for generations all come spilling out when a younger relative insists on bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Together, Sylvia and Sarah learn about the gift of self. This is a book that can be enjoyed in an evening, savored over hot chocolate and shared with any quilters you know.
— Winston-Salem Journal
Chiaverini, author of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, delivers a rich holiday tale that predates last year's Master Quilter. Sylvia Compson, nee Bergstrom, 77, is determined to make it the dullest holiday ever at Elm Creek Manor, to which she returned, a year and a half ago, after 50 years of estrangement. Her Bergstrom relatives are gone; her memories of Christmas past are fraught. But young Sarah McClure, Sylvia's partner in the quilting camp that's brought Elm Creek back to life, wants to spend Christmas with Sylvia -- and she wants it tinsel strewn. Home is here now, not with the mother who dislikes Sarah's husband, Matt. Sylvia reluctantly agrees to visit the trove of ornaments in the attic. As the women discover an unfinished Christmas quilt, a mixed bag of memories spills out along with the feathered star blocks: strudel making in the Depression; tree trimming during World War II; memories of a sister, Claudia, who forfeits Sylvia's love until it's too late. Reconciliation and redemption: of course. But it's not won cheaply -- there's no saccharine in this sweet story.
— Publisher's Weekly
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
If you are familiar with the Elm Creek Quilts series, then you know Jennifer Chiaverini's books are light and sweet without being too light and sweet. The Christmas Quilt fits the mold perfectly. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, master quilter and matriarch of Elm Creek Manor, flashes back to past Christmases, from the time she and her sister learned the Bergstrom family's famous strudel recipe to the winter when her husband and brother went off to fight in World War II. The captivating story unfolds at a perfect pace. GRADE: A!
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram
This redemptive novel beautifully threads together pieces of Sylvia's life story while celebrating the strength of women, sisterhood and friendship. Wrap this one up for a cherished friend
— The Virginian Pilot
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