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.
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
Rosa Diaz Barclay endured years of husband John's abuse, but one day Rosa realizes it is time to leave. Taking her four children and a few precious family keepsakes, Rosa flees, only to receive some unexpected help from her first love: Lars Jorgensen. Together the two set out to make a new future for themselves in the wine country of Sonoma Valley in Chiaverini's emotionally compelling tale.
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is a wonderful novel...Jennifer Chiaverini has researched her history well, and writes elegantly and formally. The perspective is third-person and emphasizes the historical and real over image and gossip. The novel paints a broad picture of what it must have been like to live in America during that age, and revisits the lives of the remaining members of the former First Family after the assassination and the election of the 17th President, Andrew Johnson. We learn of the scandals and motives behind the events that ended the long, very dear friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, and also a great deal about the First Lady and the Lincoln children in the years following the President’s death...Any reader interested in President Lincoln, Civil War history, or historical fiction should love this book.
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
The Runaway Quilt
For readers who enjoyed Jan Karon's "Mitford" series, The Quilter's Apprentice is a must read. Sarah McClure, a newcomer to a small college town, takes a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor, helping its reclusive owner Syliva Compson prepare her family estate for sale. As payment for her work, Sylvia teaches Sarah to quilt, while telling about the hardships of growing up during World war II. As the two women become friends, Sylvia helps Sarah face her own family struggles. Together, they learn the value of family, friendship and forgiveness.
— Leah Robarts, Abilene Reporter-News
The Quilter’s Apprentice
[An] enlightening new historical novel...Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker vividly imagines how the Civil War touched daily life in Washington.
This volume in the now long-running Elm Creek Quilts series goes back to finish a story begun in The Runaway Quilt (2002). Joanna, runaway slave and quilter, traveled the Underground Railroad to Elm Creek Farm in 1859, only to be captured and forcibly returned to Virginia. Sylvia Compson has learned part of Joanna’s story through the journal of her great-great aunt Gerda Bergstrom and related historicalresearch. Now, the discovery of a bundle of Joanna's old letters reopens the mystery of what happened to the former slave. This story concentrates on Joanna and the Civil War years but also extends to her family and descendents. Once again clues unearthed from styles of quilting and fabrics used in different quilts help Sylvia and her friends track down what really happened during a remote period in history and help drive home Chiaverini’s point that women’s history adds a vital layer to our understanding of the past. This is an outstanding series of novels about a fascinating craft. Quilting, in the hands of Chiaverini, allows us to explore human relationships in all their complexity.
The Lost Quilter
Steeped in rich period detail and gentle romance, this seventh entry in Chiaverini's "Elm Creek Quilts" series wonderfully captures the courage of the Underground Railroad supporters and the runaways who risked everything to find freedom.
— Library Journal
The Sugar Camp Quilt
The Quilter's Apprentice is a story of forgiveness, friendship, and letting go of the past. It is a beautiful first novel by Jennifer Chiaverini that crosses generations and, once read, should be passed to mothers and sisters and friends... The Quilter's Apprentice will take you on a journey that will introduce you to two remarkable women and shows us all that we can reach across generations and find friendship as well as learning from each other.
— Carolyn McCutcheon, Borders Staff Reviews
The Quilter’s Apprentice