The Runaway Quilt

The Runaway Quilt

The fourth book in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series explores a question that has long captured the imagination of quilters and historians alike: Did stationmasters of the Underground Railroad use quilts to signal to fugitive slaves? In THE RUNAWAY QUILT, Jennifer Chiaverini revisits the legends of Elm Creek Manor as Sylvia Compson discovers evidence of her ancestors' courageous involvement in the Underground Railroad.

The Runaway Quilt Book Club Resources

Excerpt

The fourth book in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series explores a question that has long captured the imagination of quilters and historians alike: Did stationmasters of the Underground Railroad use quilts to signal to fugitive slaves?

In her first novel, The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini wove quilting lore with tales from the World War II home front. Now, following Round Robin and The Cross-Country Quilters, Chiaverini revisits the legends of Elm Creek Manor, as Sylvia Compson discovers evidence of her ancestors' courageous involvement in the Underground Railroad.

Alerted to the possibility that her family had ties to the slaveholding South, Sylvia scours her attic and finds three quilts and a memoir written by Gerda, the spinster sister of clan patriarch Hans Bergstrom. The memoir describes the founding of Elm Creek Manor and how, using quilts as markers, Hans, his wife, Anneke, and Gerda came to beckon fugitive slaves to safety within its walls. When a runaway named Joanna arrives from a South Carolina plantation pregnant with her master's child, the Bergstroms shelter her through a long, dangerous winter -- imagining neither the impact of her presence nor the betrayal that awaits them.

The memoir raises new questions for every one it answers, leading Sylvia ever deeper into the tangle of the Bergstrom legacy. Aided by the Elm Creek Quilters, as well as by descendants of others named in Gerda's tale, Sylvia dares to face the demons of her family's past and at the same time reaffirm her own moral center. A spellbinding fugue on the mysteries of heritage, THE RUNAWAY QUILT unfolds with all the drama and suspense of a classic in the making.

BOOK CLUBS: Click here for reading guide and discussion questions.

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Quilts

Gerda’s Log Cabin The Runaway Quilt Birds in the Air Gerda’s Shoo-Fly Underground Railroad

Praise

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 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.

— Booklist

Chiaverini's fourth offering in her Elm Creek Quilts series weaves a modern-day family mystery around a pre-Civil War tale of bravery, deception and the Underground Railroad... Chiaverini manages to impart a healthy dollop of history in a folksy style, while raising moral questions in a suspenseful narrative.

— Publisher's Weekly

Jennifer Chiaverini brings a new depth and maturity to THE RUNAWAY QUILT, her best book yet. Whether you believe quilts were used to signal passengers on the underground railroad, you'll know that the original residents of Elm Creek Manor used the products of their hearts and hands to aid runaway slaves.

— Sandra Dallas, author of THE PERSIAN PICKLE CLUB and ALICE'S TULIPS

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