“In this riveting, deeply authentic novel, Jennifer Chiaverini puts a human face on one of our country’s most notorious assassins, John Wilkes Booth. Fates and Traitors is a lavishly-woven tapestry of a novel, rich in historic detail, and remarkably suspenseful for a tale whose fateful ending is so well-known.”
— Amy Stewart, author of Girl Waits with Gun
- 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.
Chiaverini returns to the quilters of Elm Creek Manor and introduces several new characters in her sweet latest novel (after Sonoma Rose). When Sylvia asks the participants in Quiltsgiving, a post-Thanksgiving weeklong get-together, why they quilt and why they give, their answers point to personal tragedies and triumphs, reminding readers of the powers of generosity and friendship. Jocelyn recent lost her husband in a tragic accident, and she channels her energies into jeeping his after-school programs alive. Linnea wants to keep the public library where she works open to all visitors, but a lack of funding and political squabbling make it difficult. Michaela is recovering from a leg injury sustained during a sabotaged cheerleading tryout, and she fears her future is jeopardized. Despite the particulars of each obstacle or victory, each woman finds encouragement in one another, and as they quilt, the stitch together their strendths to cope with individual struggles. Chiaverini's themes of love, loss, and healing will resonate with many, and her characters' stories are inspiring.
Chiaverini stitches together a series of lightly interlocking contemporary vignettes in an intriguing way…A gentle exploration of tragedy, hope, the power of Christmas, and the possibility of miracles.
[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 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
Chiaverini's first novel is really a story within a story. Sarah McClure, estranged from her mother, newly married and unemployed, reluctantly hires on as the personal assistant to a disagreeable old woman, Sylvia Compson. As the barriers of age, initial dislike, and distrust break down, Sarah learns the heartbreaking secrets of Sylvia's lonely life. The vehicle for their growing friendship is the quilting lessons Sylvia gives to Sarah…There's plenty of folklore about quilting and how these artistic endeavors bring women together in circles of quilting and friendship. Quilters especially will enjoy this story of friendship and forgiveness.
The characters of Round Robin are memorable folks who enrich the story line in many ways. Jennifer Chiaverini has shown in a simple but beautiful plot that people need the support of loved ones to survive a crisis. The tale focuses on the human condition and offers up the hope that, no matter how bleak the situation is; good times are near as long as good friends stand by you. Similar in tone to Jan Karon, this novel is a spiritually uplifting reading experience that serves as the sequel to the wonderful The Quilter's Apprentice.
— The Midwest Book Review
Chiaverini’s eye for detail coupled with an ability to breathe life into her characters ensures an engrossing period piece that does not fail to both entertain and inform. Fans of Civil War fiction and readers who enjoyed the author’s other historicals will find this title absorbing.
— Library Journal
Glows with the love of quilts, the importance of family, and the value of friends to share our joys and sorrows with.
— Kathryn Smith, Anderson Independent-Mail