Praise for the Elm Creek Quilts Series
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
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
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
[In] the fifth installment in Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts series, ... the author explores Sylvia's maternal heritage and the women's suffrage movement, alternating between the past and the present. Sylvia is busy planning her wedding to Andrew Cooper and attempting to overcome the resistance of his children, who fear that the seven-year age difference and Sylvia's stroke some years earlier will leave their father in a tenuous situation. What connects the past and the present is Sylvia's odyssey to find her mother's quilts, which had been sold during Sylvia's estrangement from her sister, Claudia. The journey to find the quilts, the detective work of tracking them down, and the family lore behind them illustrate how quilts develop a history beyond that of their maker. Series fans will enjoy this latest installment.
The Quilter’s Legacy
Chiaverini’s latest is based on the true story of Elizabeth Keckley, who bought freedom from slavery for herself and her son and went on to become a well-known modiste in Washington. Keckley had a front-row seat to history: she dressed Washington’s A-list, including Jefferson Davis’ wife before they left D.C., and, most intimately, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln is mercurial, scheming, extravagant, and troubled, but Elizabeth stands by her as she is lambasted in the press. Elizabeth Keckley is an admirable heroine—successful, self-made, and utterly sympathetic. Readers of the Elm Creek Quilt series who have enjoyed Chiaverini’s narrative jaunts into Civil War and Underground Railroad history will be interested in Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker—and there is even a little bit of quilting in the story. This is also a good choice for readers of Christian historical fiction, as both Elizabeth’s and Mr. Lincoln’s faiths are important elements in shaping their characters.
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
Chiaverini has created a wonderful novel with her extensive research — not only on Kate Chase, but also on the battles on the senate floor and out in the field.
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.
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
No contemporary figure quite compares to Kate Chase Sprague, the protagonist of Jennifer Chiaverini's historical novel Mrs. Lincoln's Rival... Previously best known for her Elm Creek Quilts series, Madison novelist Chiaverini began a sequence of popular historical novels set during the Civil War last year with Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, based on Elizabeth Keckley, a free black businesswoman who became a confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln, and continued with The Spymistress, inspired by Elizabeth Van Lew, who spied for the Union behind Confederate lines in Richmond, Va. In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.