Barnes and Noble Best New Fiction of December 2017: “Ada Lovelace is now recognized as ‘the mother of computer science’ due to her work with Charles Babbage, who invented the first mechanical computer. In this historical novel set in the early 1800s, her lineage is explored and explained. Ironically, her father’s genius becomes an obstacle to her own passions. As the sole legitimate heir of famed poet Lord Byron, ‘rescued’ from her father’s bad blood by her mother, who raised Ada strictly without art, poetry, fairy tales, or other artistic pursuits, Ada discovers a love of mathematics. Ada’s fear that ‘…the list of those who might wish to read my memoirs will be very short indeed’ is unfounded; her tale will fascinate readers, and her work in STEM changed the world.
—Barnes and Noble
In 1862, war comes knocking at the door of the community of Water's Ford, Pa., and as Union supporters, the local men rally to answer the call to enlist. As their men march off to their unknown fates, the women of Elm Creek Valley are determined to contribute their share to the war effort and use their sewing and quilting skills to craft quilts and other items so desperately needed by their menfolk.
In “The Union Quilters,” Jennifer Chiaverini's latest Elm Creek Quilts novel, the women left behind in times of war show their strength and compassion in a fascinating historical story that sheds a new light on the hardships faced at home during the arduous Civil War.
The ladies of Water's Ford each face widely varying yet common fears as the Civil War tearing their country apart rages on. Constance Wright's husband Abel is an accepted member of the community and a skilled rifleman, but is turned away from enlisting simply because he is black. Dorothea's pregnant sister-in-law Charlotte Granger is worried about her husband, Dr. [Jonathan] Granger, who sends comforting, regular updates on the men from home to his wife, but also sends more detailed letters to his former love, Gerda Berstrom, causing ill-will and strife among the two women.
Anneke Bergstrom must face whispers from the town since her husband refused to enlist, preferring to stay out of the fray, and Dorothea Granger Nelson worries about her educated schoolmaster husband Thomas who carried her Dove in the Window quilt into battle with him, not realizing that she was pregnant with their second child.
A patriotic project to supply new hospitals in Washington with quilts bands the women together, and the project turns into an opportunity for them to show they are capable of running their lives, families and community with great success. Though tension and worry reign over the small community, the women do their best to support one another and hold their families together until their men come marching home.
The 17th book in the Elm Creek Quilts series, “The Union Quilters” is a deeper look at the original group of women who began the quilting group that has been the focus of Chiaverini's novels. With a sharp eye to detail and historical fact, Chiaverini has combined the stories of the women left behind during war with how quilting allowed the women to cope to create an intriguing story that is timely with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching. This novel is one of Chiaverini's best works to date.
Jennifer Chiaverini has made quite a name for herself with her best-selling Elm Creek Quilts series. From the Civil War to the roaring ‘20s to contemporary settings, these novels have offered suspense, romance and, at times, in-depth looks into the social, political and cultural differences that helped shape a nation. In the latest Elm Creek Quilts novel, The Union Quilters, readers are introduced to Dorothea Granger—beloved wife of Thomas—as she stands in her kitchen, swallowing her tears, watching the man she loves prepare to cross Pennsylvania to enlist in the Union army in 1861. Dorothea is a true leader in her small town: She’s constantly helping other families, running the sewing circle and even using her home as a station on the Underground Railroad. But having to keep the tears from her eyes as Thomas departs is almost impossible. Constance Wright and her boys live in the small town of Elm Creek as well. Her husband, Abel, is also packing to join the men on their march into battle, but Abel has an obstacle the others do not. He’s African American, and the Union has yet to let men of color wear the blue uniform and stand up for their rights. Among the other residents in town are Gerda Bergstrom, a slightly bitter woman who’s in love with a man she can never have, and her sister, Anneke, whose own husband refuses to join the fight, choosing instead to stand by his opinion that you should never kill your fellow man. Like the quilts that are created by these fantastic ladies’ hands, Chiaverini’s storylines are seamlessly united. Between the sewing circle becoming an organization that will do all they can to support their noble fighting men to the in-depth accounts of frightening battles to the vivid look at the intense prejudice that existed in a world teetering on the cusp of freedom, every moment of this story is truly unforgettable. Chiaverini has once again written an intense and beautiful book—so much so that readers will almost hear the hollow echo of the fife and drum as they immerse themselves in every compelling page.
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
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
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
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
After a small holiday novella featuring the Elm Creek Quilters, Chiaverini brings us a much more substantive story featuring a new and exotic location and a new style of quilting. Trying to recover from a marriage that has gone from bad to worse, Bonnie decides to spend the quilting off-season in Hawaii as a consultant for the new Aloha Quilt Camp in Maui. Claire, her college roommate, has retired to Hawaii with her retired military husband, Eric, and has been running a quilt shop. Now she has also purchased a bed-and-breakfast and wants to add a quilt camp. The novel offers a wonderful introduction to Hawaii and the unique tradition of Hawaiian quilting. Bonnie meets the heartbreak of her nasty divorce head-on and learns more about life and forgiveness than she ever imagined possible. In the process, she renews an old friendship and makes some wonderful new ones. Chiaverini also introduces tantalizing hints of what will come next for the original Elm Creek Quilters. She continues to expand her cast of interesting and inspirational characters while imparting a wealth of knowledge about the craft of quilting.
— Judy Coon, Booklist
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.
All the characters are brilliantly written, and readers will enjoy getting to know each and every one of them. [Chiaverini] brings to life long-forgotten snapshots of America’s past with style, grace and respect.
— RT Book Reviews