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.
The battles are described in detail, but they do not overwhelm, nor do they overshadow the main topic. Chiaverini is a talented author who clearly did her research.
[Chiaverini’s] depiction of the essential decency of some of our nation’s early leaders is a high point.
The intense research Chiaverini did to document the relationship between Julia and Ulysses Grant is admirable, and made their love story factual and heartwarming. It certainly gave this reader a different perspective of the famous general… All in all this work of historical fiction was a delightful read.
[N]ever before has [Chiaverini] told a story of such touching beauty and original perspective as she does now in her latest tome, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule.
Chiaverini’s fans will love this light historical romance.
A Mighty Girl Pick of the Day. “In this gripping new historical fiction novel, bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini captures a little-known Great War story about the women who helped lead the Allies to victory, smashing gender barriers along the way. Highly recommended for adult readers.”
“Chiaverini weaves the intersecting threads of these brave women’s lives together, highlighting their deep sense of pride and duty…Chiaverini’s story will strike a chord with history buffs, and many will be surprised that such an essential crew of soldiers went virtually unrecognized after the war. An eye-opening and detailed novel about remarkable female soldiers.”
“Chiaverini’s enchanting latest highlights the heroic efforts of a group of women who helped the U.S. war effort during WWI…As the women work tirelessly to ensure lines of communication remain open, they discover the meaning of true friendship and the resilience needed to live in sparse quarters while working long hours in less than ideal circumstances. Chiaverini brings her singular characters to life, including real historical figures, as they become united in the quest to serve their country. Fans of historical fiction will be captivated.”
Starred Review. “Chiaverini casts well-deserved light on a little-known group: the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps…Chiaverini seamlessly blends fact and fiction as she illuminates the experiences of these heroic women, many of whom served near the front lines during key Allied offensives…Chiaverini’s many readers will appreciate her latest strong female characters as will fans of Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (2017).”
Starred Review. “So much new information is packed into this story that becomes the best kind of history lesson. . . In 1917, Marie in Cincinnati, Grace in New York City, and Valerie in Los Angeles are all young women working a switchboard at their local telephone company. When the U.S. Army Signal Corps sends out a call for experienced operators fluent in French, they were among the few able to pass rigorous enlistment examinations. Once deployed, the women found themselves widely dispersed and facing unique challenges, but always connected. Chiaverini makes it easy to identify with and care about these women who come from three regions of the United States and have differing familial and cultural backgrounds but share the motivation of patriotism for multiple countries.”
“For years, I have been waiting for an engaging and comprehensive story about the women’s suffrage movement. So I am happy to report that New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini absolutely nails it with her latest release, The Women’s March… The Women’s March is an often brutal and raw look at both sexism and racism, yet it also provides a beautiful and bright ray of hope. Thank you to Jennifer Chiaverini for penning the book I have been waiting for. I could not be more pleased, and I implore my fellow readers to march to the bookstore now to pick up a copy.”
“A perfect piece of historical fiction in this moment of questioning voter viability and legislation aimed at suppressing equal access. You will learn much and find astonishing comparisons to present day in this journey through one year of the suffrage movement.”
“I absolutely fell in love with these strong, fearless, female leads. The detail and incredible amount of research behind The Women’s March creates an almost tangible experience for readers. I will be highly recommending this book to fans of The Jane Austen Society, The Poppy Wives, and historical fiction lovers in general.”
“An amazing amount of information I never knew. I now have a much better appreciation for what the Suffragists went through and accomplished. The story is based on three very different women which establishes a sense of how the movement impacted different aspects of society.”
With remarkable clarity and focus, in this, her newest novel, the author takes us to the front lines of the suffrage movement as seen through the eyes of three women: Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born into slavery in the south and now wants to make sure that black women are not left behind by the mostly white suffrage efforts; Maud Malone is a New York librarian working for human rights; and Alice Paul, who is only twenty-five years old but has already known what it means to spend time in prison in Great Britain, has returned to bolster the lagging movement in her own country. The result? Alice Paul organizes the Woman’s Suffrage Procession of 1913 – the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration – in which they are joined by thousands of other women, all moving forward toward a future that will not come quickly. The author gives us the background, including Wilson’s anti-suffrage views, the challenges put forth by Maud Malone at gatherings like his pre-election gathering, the less than enthusiastic agreement to allow Ida to march with the group, and the hard work leading up to the procession itself. Finally, on the day of the procession, March 3, 1913, when the police were seemingly unable to do their jobs properly, things get pretty touch-and-go on the route. But they pull it off! If this doesn’t make you jump up and shout “Hurrah,” then nothing will! Book clubs will rock with this one! An added benefit: the extensive listing of her research sources for further reading. Enjoy!
“Wow! This book pivots on roles three women played in the enormous Woman Suffrage Procession in 1913 that was interrupted by a chaotic mob. The ladies’ activism is a great reminder of the long and hard-won road to women’s right to vote that we should not take for granted!”
Chiaverini shines in her grasp of the personalities and policies that went into making the march happen. She understands politics and the friends and enemies one must make in order to stand up for a cause…Chiaverini has given voices to women who worked hard and who gave up much in order for justice to be done. She has painted a portrait of three women who should be hailed and remembered as the heroes they were. And, she has given us all a reminder that the right to vote was not a thing given, but a battle hard fought and won.
— New York Journal of Books
Chiaverini offers an impassioned account that pulls readers into the organization, staging, and aftermath of this historic protest, making the details feel freshly alive. . . This politically aware novel about a historic quest for democratic justice compels readers to contemplate everything that has and hasn’t changed regarding voting rights and gender and racial equality.
Chiaverini’s latest work of historical fiction weaves together the actions of…three real women, effective character choices for highlighting the disparate groups advocating for social and legal change while also speaking to the tensions regarding race, class, and rhetorical arguments that prevent these groups from working together smoothly (if at all). . . The window it provides into the painstaking efforts to secure voting rights for all citizens is undeniably valuable and timely. Informative and insightful.
Chiaverini builds a believable domestic sphere in which the women surrounding Mary—women who have also mourned the losses of husbands and children—try to puzzle out when she began to lose her sanity and whether her griefs truly transcend their own…An engaging glimpse of women’s privilege and anguish during the Civil War era.
Through meticulously researched historical detail and sympathetic portrayal of each character, including Mary herself, Chiaverini provides a fascinating glimpse into the women of an influential family on the front lines of some of the most important moments of that indelible time.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first novel in her extensive Elm Creek Quilts series, Chiaverini’s (Resistance Women, 2019, etc.) latest installment is rich with detail: Each chapter reads like a short story, telling the tale of a particular woman’s motivation to design and craft a particular quilt. Whether inspired by love or grief, the resulting artwork is described with astonishing attention to design, workmanship, and symbolism. Chiaverini also explores how the practice of her craft transforms each woman’s emotional life, each stitch bringing her closer to a sense of peace…Devotees of the [Elm Creek] Quilts series will relish these new episodes, and new fans will delight to discover such a well-stocked back catalog. A warm portrait of women bound by craft—perfect for fireside reading.
Jennifer Chiaverini takes the World War II novel to new heights with the story of a brilliant graduate student from Wisconsin who marries a promising German economist. Settling in 1930s Berlin, Mildred soon realizes what a threat Hitler and the rise of Nazism is and creates a resistance cell to collect information on the regime. Resistance Women is first-rate historical fiction.
An enthralling, insightful historical saga of Nazism resistance…This is an historical novel in the best sense, true to time and events and filled with names even readers only casually conversant with history are likely to recognize…Resistance Women has been described as one of the ‘Best Historical Novels of the Year’ and it is simply unforgettable in illustrating the harrowing story of ordinary people who rise up against evil, demonstrate unparalleled courage and make the ultimate sacrifice.
From the end days of the Weimar Republic through the rise of Hitler and the atrocities of World War II, four women boldly defy the Nazis, risking their own lives and those of their loved ones. Chiaverini’s latest historical novel masterfully reimagines the real lives of Mildred Fish Harnack, Greta Lorke, Martha Dodd… A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people.
Chiaverini offers an intimate and historically sound exploration of the years leading up to and through WWII… exceptionally insightful, making for a sweeping and memorable WWII novel.
Chiaverini never loses her focus on her four extraordinarily courageous, resourceful, yet relatable narrators. Chiaverini’s many fans and every historical fiction reader who enjoys strong female characters, will find much to love in this revealing WWII novel.
Book of the Week: “An enchanting story about one woman’s struggle for intellectual recognition and independence.”
“With the popularity of the book and movie Hidden Figures and the recent education thrust toward science and math, Chiaverini, best known for her Civil War-era novels featuring mostly unrecognized women, turns her keen eye for detail to another forgotten heroine: Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, the first computer programmer. This fascinating portrait of Lord Byron’s only legitimate child is not only a picture of a time and place, but of a woman struggling with her nature, passion and desire for learning. Chiaverini’s novel…is both inspirational, touching and memorable.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Cherished Reader, Should you come upon Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini, consider yourself quite fortunate indeed…Chiaverini makes a convincing case that Ada Byron King is a woman worth celebrating.”
One of the Six Best Books Coming out in December: “Jennifer Chiaverini is a master of historical fiction, and her latest novel, Enchantress of Numbers, is no exception. Take a trip into the world of Lord Byron’s daughter — who also happens to be the world’s first computer programmer — and you’ll be glued to the page as you watch her straddle the line between societal expectations and intellectual aspirations.”
An Amazon Best Book of December 2017: “In this biographical novel from author Jennifer Chiaverini, we journey into the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, now largely considered to be the world’s first commuter programmer. Unknown to me, Ada was raised in the shadow of a famous father, as the only legitimate daughter of poet Lord Byron. We soon learn the eccentric Byron abandons his new family a month after Ada’s birth, never to see either his child or wife again. Ada’s mother becomes obsessed with purging all things creative and imaginative from Ada’s upbringing, in the hopes of saving her child from the same perceived mania that plagued her poet husband. With an ever-changing cast of tutors and governesses, and forbidden from most artistic outlets, Ada throws herself headfirst into academia and mathematics. Chiaverini expertly illuminates the adversities Ada faced in melding her analytical prowess with the creative thought she was told for so long to suppress. While Ada was largely unrecognized for her accomplishments while alive, this novel is a generous ode to one of history’s most extraordinary female trailblazers.”
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.
“In her richly detailed Enchantress of Numbers, Jennifer Chiaverini presents a vivid portrait of Ada’s too-short life while illuminating the significance of her professional accomplishments…Enchantress of Numbers expertly balances scenes in royal salons and English country houses with Ada’s reflections on the mathematical principles…Chiaverini’s latest will appeal to readers who enjoy 19th-century historical fiction and want a glimpse into the dawn of a technological revolution.”
Editors’ Fall Pick 2017: “Fascinating.”
“A compelling yet heartbreaking homage to the mother of computer science.”
“[An] exquisite biographical novel…a quintessential example of the form…Wholeheartedly recommended for historical-fiction fans and STEM enthusiasts.”
“Lovelace is considered the first ever computer programmer, and Enchantress of Numbers tells the story of her fascinating (and too-short) life. Historical fiction STEM is the literary genre we never knew we needed.”
One of 5 Must-Read Books This December: “[Enchantress of Numbers] is a fascinating look at how science and art do not stand at opposite ends of the spectrum, but rather—at their best—work together, and bring us toward a new, undreamed-of future.”
Best Fiction Books Coming Out In December 2017: “Chiaverini brings [Ada Lovelace] to life around you.”
A BitchReads Book You Must Read in December: “In her fascinating book, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini charts Lovelace’s life—from being estranged from her father by her mathematician mother to being forced to abandon the humanities in favor of STEM, to the indelible mark she’s left on science and technology. You’ll come away from this book wondering how many other pioneering women in science have been overlooked.”
“In this fascinating homage, Jennifer Chiaverini traces not only King’s professional accomplishments, but also the romance and family drama that tainted her personal life.”
Best New Books to Read in December: “While Lovelace may not have received the credit she was due in her own time period, Chiaverini’s novel stands as a fitting ode to one of the greatest women in the history of science.”
Wonderfully evoking the times and places that Booth knew, Chiaverini’s work makes for enthralling reading…Readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially dealing with the Civil War, as well as fans of the author, will find this winning novel difficult to put down.
Fans of historical fiction are in for a real treat with Jennifer Chiaverini’s latest novel, Fates and Traitors… Based on lesser-known details of the infamous assassin’s family life, this compelling, dynamic account of the tragic Civil War years transports readers to the heart of Washington, DC during one of its most electrifying time periods…Booth himself, the details of the Civil War and its politics come alive as the varying perspectives merge into one mind-blowing script…Chiaverini’s spectacular narrative brings the past to vivid life.
Fates and Traitors is a diamond of a novel.
Impeccably researched…Each of the five main characters is brought to life in stunning detail.
Engaging, sweeping historical fiction that complicates politics by teasing out the domestic and romantic repercussions of treason.
Chiaverini’s accomplishment is her remarkable ability to build dramatic tension…a completely compelling novel.
Fates and Traitors is a fascinating, thrilling look into the women who loved one of history’s greatest villains. Meticulously researched and beautifully told, Jennifer Chiaverini delves deep into the complicated, nuanced world of John Wilkes Booth.
Fates and Traitors is a novel about mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, the line between patriot and traitor, and the lengths we go to for love. A fascinating look at a slice of our country’s history, an incisive portrait of obsession, and overall impossible to put down.
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.
In her latest novel, Fates and Traitors, Jennifer Chiaverini once again demonstrates her masterful ability to bring history to life. Thoroughly researched, expertly crafted, this book takes readers from the glittering state rooms of the Lincoln White House to the packed houses of John Wilkes Booth’s Washington theater scene to the seedy boarding rooms of the conspiring murderers. With her varied and well-drawn ensemble of female narrators, Chiaverini spins a rich and suspenseful tale, shedding new light on America’s most notorious assassin—and the women who loved him.
Both the historical and contemporary stories are moving, with vivid and sympathetic characters, and they mesh together smoothly and naturally.
I really enjoyed this holiday tale. It was heartwarming and touching, filled with hope, joy and perseverance. Now I have a much greater appreciation for the poem “Christmas Bells” and love knowing the backstory…This book is definitely a keeper!
Chiaverini writes a heartfelt story of Christmases past and present.
[Jennifer Chiaverini] hits all the right emotional notes in this heartwarming story.
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.
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
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.
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 steps away from her popular “Elm Creek Quilts” series to explore this relationship in this absorbing stand-alone historical novel. Taking readers through times of war and peace as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary woman, the author brings Civil War Washington to vivid life through her meticulously researched authentic detail. Chiaverini's characters are compelling and accurate; the reader truly feels drawn into the intimate scenes at the White House. Historical fiction fans will enjoy this one, while Chiaverini's devoted readers may be adventurous enough to try something new.
— Library Journal
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.
A compelling fictional account of Keckley’s life.
Nuanced… a welcome historical.
— Publishers Weekly
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
Chiaverini delivers another satisfying Elm Creek Quilts story in the latest title in this excellent series. “Quiltsgiving,” held after Thanksgiving for Elm Creek campers, is tied this year to Project Linus, the organization that makes blankets for critically ill children. Updates on the recurring characters, including Sarah and Sylvia, are present but take a backseat to the engrossing stories of six women attending the retreat. A young woman uses the camp for a college service project while recovering from a leg injury. A librarian camper recounts her fight to keep her branch open amid censorship and budget cuts. Others deal with loss, including one woman who missed out on a job at Elm Creek. This volume features the series at its best, with warm, fully realized characters and powerful themes. The Project Linus and quilting details provide a nice overlay but do not overpower the story, making it enjoyable even for nonquilters. Debbie Macomber fans will enjoy this series.
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.
Set in California during Prohibition, Chiaverini's newest Elm Creek Quilts novel (after The Union Quilters) follows Rosa Diaz Barclay as she flees her abusive, bootlegger husband, John, in search of a better life with her true love, Lars Jorgensen, and a cure for the mysterious disease that's already claimed four of her children, and threatens to kill the others–two of which were fathered by the troubled Lars. Finding work at a now-illegal vineyard in Sonoma Valley, the couple get caught in a web of cops, mobsters, and farmers trying to survive, all the while struggling to care for their kids, iron out their own relationship, and enjoy the region they've come to love. Chiaverini does an excellent job of describing the lush landscapes of California wine country, while simultaneously painting a touching portrait of the difficulties faced by farming families who must tend to one another, as well as the earth. Agent: Maria Massie, Massie Lippincott McQuilkin. (Feb.)
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.
Chiaverini has an impressive ability to bring a time and place alive, showcasing the effects of Prohibition on farmers in Sonoma Valley. The wine country of California is a popular setting for novels right now, and it is fascinating to get a look at the history of the place.
When Rosa learns that her abusive husband has fallen in with bootleg mobsters and that there are guns, money and liquor in her barn, she takes her two children and the money. They assume new identities in San Francisco with Rosa’s childhood sweetheart, Lars, and learn of a possible treatment for the children’s mysterious illness. However, they’re paying the doctors with stolen gangster money and know they are being hunted. They end up settling in Sonoma Valley, where they hire out as farm hands. Their new friends will change their lives and make them committed to their new home, but the tightrope between the mob and the revenuers is a hard balance. Can Rosa and Lars make a family together and get a second chance at happiness? (DUTTON, Feb., 416 pp., $27.50)
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.
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.
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.
The Union Quilters is Jennifer Chiaverini’s newest novel, the 17th in her popular Elm Creek Quilts Series.
It takes a step back in history to the remarkable women who lived in Elm Creek Valley in Pennsylvania during the Civil War. The reader meets ancestors of some contemporary characters created by this author who skillfully blends quilting and history.
She will appear at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch for a reading, questions and answers and signing.
It’s not necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one. It’s a complete tale in itself, starting with the colorful endpapers that illustrate special quilt blocks these women used. Several of Chiaverini’s earlier books were set during the Civil War and characters reappear here to continue their stories. Some, for instance hosted runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad network.
The Union Quilters takes place in a rural Pennsylvania valley — and with northern soldiers in the thick of battle, in a rustic hospital and more. She has obviously spent untold hours in researching the accounts of life at that time and historical detail is woven in with character development. (She writes that she lives in Madison, Wis., and has access to the fine university library there.)
Families are left with the women in charge when men leave for war. They decide to build a meeting house where they can work together, raise money to help their soldiers and host educational programs. Capable women that they are, they determine to operate it themselves, to the consternation of the mayor and town council.
Though each has an individual story, they sew and knit and quilt and gather food to send to the men at war. And to socialize and lend each other support.
Each character represents a way of thinking, a facet of political thought of the time and for those who have read other novels in the series, there may be connecting threads. The situation of the one black family tells another piece of the town’s story, as does that of the German-born husband who doesn’t believe in war.
The Union Quilters is well-crafted and will interest historical fiction buffs as well as quilters. Those who are new to the series will probably next want to look up earlier titles with various settings and timelines.
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
In this latest entry to the bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, quilting queen Bonnie Markham explores Hawaii and learns about the islands' quilting traditions while setting up a tropical quilt camp. Weary from a difficult divorce battle, Bonnie leaves beloved Elm Creek Manor and takes up her friend's invitation to start the camp; once in Hawaii, she gets to work on hiring staff and making her version of a Hawaiian quilt. When her mean-spirited ex-husband-to-be demands half her share in Elm Creek as part of the settlement, Bonnie takes drastic measures to protect the estate and her friends. Still, the big changes are hard to take, and Bonnie's not sure she can follow through. With homey details and a strong sense of the connections that bind women, friends, and families, Chiaverini (Circle of Quilters) lovingly crafts her tale about a woman stitching together a new life and a new project. Series fans will enjoy this latest entry, and those new to the quilting bee should have no problem finding their groove
— Publisher’s Weekly
Expect demand from fans of this best-selling gentle series.
— Library Journal
Chiaverini’s latest offering is another in her series of novels intended for the holiday season. To follow The Christmas Quilt (2005), The New Year’s Quilt (2007), and a novel leading up to Thanksgiving (The Quilter’s Kitchen, 2008), she needed to get a little more inventive this time. The Quilter’s Holiday concerns a tradition taking place the day after Thanksgiving. The quilters’ circle gathers at the Elm Creek manor for a daylong marathon to create holiday decorations or gifts. The group pauses in their work for a scrumptious potluck lunch of dishes made from Thanksgiving leftovers. This year, in the midst of an early snowstorm, they also renew an old cornucopia tradition. Each quilter inserts a quilt block into an antique cornucopia, representing something for which they are especially thankful. Although the novel is a continuation of the long-running Elm Creek series, it may also be read as a stand-alone story evoking the holiday spirit. Longtime fans of the series will learn more of the quilters’ backstories and get delightful hints of what will follow in subsequent novels. A must for series fans
— Judy Coon, Booklist
The winds of March are bringing in an eagerly awaited treat–the next book in Jennifer Chiaverini's extremely popular Elm Creek Quilts series. The Lost Quilter once again visits slave times, continuing the story of Joanna begun in The Runaway Quilt(2003). Even if you haven't read the first book, this one will grip you from beginning to end with her plight as a captured run-away slave who eventually helps fight the Civil War by spying in Charleston just before it burns. This story, for all of its horror and brutal truths about life as a slave, is incredibly uplifting and inspiring. Chiaverini has done it again!
— ABA Indie Next List, Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover Book Store
In her 14th series installment, Chiaverini picks up the threads from The Runaway Quilt to spin another tale of adventure, love, perseverance and, of course, quilting. When Sylvia Bergstrom Compson and her staff find a stash of old letters hidden in an antique desk in the manor's attic, the story whips back to 1859 to recount the travails of the formidable Joanna North, an escaped slave who spent a brief respite at Elm Creek Farm. Joanna is recaptured and sent back to the Virginia plantation she thought she had finally escaped, and is eventually dispatched to Charleston to work under her former master's demanding newlywed niece, Miss Evangeline. As the Civil War looms, Joanna learns that for a slave, nothing—love, family, loyalty—is sacred or certain, and she never ceases plotting her final escape in the patterns of her scrap quilting. This satisfying and redemptive narrative unfolds with cinematic clarity, and Joanna's journey is sure to have readers holding their breath for her until the last page.
— Publisher’s Weekly
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
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.
Fans of Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts novels will find much to appreciate in her latest effort, the Winding Ways Quilt. Readers are in store for big changes as this season’s quilting camp comes to a close, with longtime member Judy leaving for a great new job and Summer planning to leave for graduate school in Chicago (for real this time). Bonnie is trying to decide how to move forward after her marriage and her quilt shop ended up in shambles, while Gwen prepares for her best friend and her daughter to leave. And new friends are joining this warm quilting circle, including Anna, the master chef, and Gretchen, the new quilting teacher. All the while group matriarch Sylvia is hard at work on a multipaneled Winding Ways quilt, which beautifully illustrates the comings and goings of members of her quilting family. Readers who have not read the numerous previous Elm Creek Quilt books would not feel lost if this were the first one they picked up. Though the Winding Ways Quilt is 13th in the series, it focuses largely on the backstory of the quilters, explaining what brought them to quilting and to Elm Creek Quilts, and how their relationships with each other have changed and deepened through the years. There’s also an important lesson or two about forgiveness and how to move on, from tragedy or just from change. That these women all happen to be quilters makes this story no less entertaining for people who are not quilters. Women who enjoy any kind of crafts will identify with the passion and enthusiasm Chiaverini’s characters have for quilting. Best-selling author Chiaverini has a loyal following of readers who want to know everything that’s happening in the world of the Elm Creek Quilters. She’s also designed a line of fabrics based on her novels. Odds are good that this latest Elm Creek adventure will bring Chiaverini even more devoted readers who can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Chiaverini's stitches are sound.
— Publisher’s Weekly
A couple of surprise openings at the artists' retreat familiarly known as Elm Creek Quilts brings a host of intriguing candidates.
— Library Journal
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 Elm Creek novels are an original series and a fabulous addition to the genre. Her latest is a true delight, complete with fascinating characters from all walks of life. Readers will enjoy this novel and its well-written descriptions of the craft of quilting.
— Romantic Times
Chiaverini, author of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, delivers a rich holiday tale that predates last year's Master Quilter. Sylvia Compson, nee Bergstrom, 77, is determined to make it the dullest holiday ever at Elm Creek Manor, to which she returned, a year and a half ago, after 50 years of estrangement. Her Bergstrom relatives are gone; her memories of Christmas past are fraught. But young Sarah McClure, Sylvia's partner in the quilting camp that's brought Elm Creek back to life, wants to spend Christmas with Sylvia — and she wants it tinsel strewn. Home is here now, not with the mother who dislikes Sarah's husband, Matt. Sylvia reluctantly agrees to visit the trove of ornaments in the attic. As the women discover an unfinished Christmas quilt, a mixed bag of memories spills out along with the feathered star blocks: strudel making in the Depression; tree trimming during World War II; memories of a sister, Claudia, who forfeits Sylvia's love until it's too late. Reconciliation and redemption: of course. But it's not won cheaply — there's no saccharine in this sweet story.
— Publisher’s Weekly
Quilts are more than blankets; they are story, memory, tears and legacy woven into patterns. Jennifer Chiaverini, the author of a series of Elm Creek Quilts novels, has expanded her literary legacy with this heartwarming story with a message: 'You can give someone the riches of the world, but it is an empty gesture if you withhold the gift of yourself.' Blocks of an unfinished quilt and secrets and tears that have haunted the Bergstrom family for generations all come spilling out when a younger relative insists on bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Together, Sylvia and Sarah learn about the gift of self. This is a book that can be enjoyed in an evening, savored over hot chocolate and shared with any quilters you know.
— Winston-Salem Journal
While searching for decorations on Christmas Eve, Sarah finds a lovely unfinished Christmas quilt. Elm Creek master quilter Sylvia knows the quilt's history and narrates several tales of holidays past, recalling how many times the quilt had been pulled out of storage to be completed, only to be forgotten until next year as a family drama unfolded. Eventually, the quilt was put away for good, not unearthed for over 50 years. Will this be the year it is finally finished, under happy circumstances? With eight books in the “Elm Creek” series, libraries should plan on demand for Chiaverini's latest, but even readers unfamiliar with the series will enjoy this charming story of love and family.
— Library Journal
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
This redemptive novel beautifully threads together pieces of Sylvia's life story while celebrating the strength of women, sisterhood and friendship. Wrap this one up for a cherished friend
— The Virginian Pilot
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 members of the Elm Creek Quilters set out to commemorate their matriarch Sylvia's recent wedding and her years of devotion to quilting and Elm Creek Manor with a bridal quilt. Sylvia's friends and students agree to contribute blocks that express how Sylvia has inspired them. But the project hits snags when the local quilters are confronted with their own personal problems, including a troubled marriage, a potential business failure, a budding romance, and new career prospects. Long-buried secrets, animosities, and yearnings rise to the surface as the women struggle to meet their quilting deadline and maintain the close circle of friendship that has sustained them. This latest novel in the Elm Creek Quilt series brings to the forefront the supporting characters who have made it such a popular series.
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
One of the beauties of this series is that readers can start at the beginning or jump in at the end. Each novel stands alone, while for devoted followers, each new volume is like a visit with old friends, catching up on the news… THE MASTER QUILTER upholds the tradition of excellence in these enjoyable novels, warm and wise, full of authentic quilting lore from an author who is herself very much at home over a quilting frame
— The Advocate
Even a newcomer to the popular Elm Creek Quilts series will quickly get caught up in the lives of the ladies who stitch… [Chiaverini] intensifies the story's texture by retelling key scenes from multiple points of view, and along the way she enriches the reader's awareness of quilting's importance as a female art form and a source of deep common bonds.
— Publisher’s Weekly
Some of the most compelling characters you'll ever want to meet.
— Green Bay Press-Gazette
Chiaverini's fifth and best Elm Creek Quilts novel again stitches together a patchwork of American life… The novel's high point is the poignantly detailed description of the flu epidemic of 1918. Less historical but equally touching is Eleanor's aging mother's arrival at the horse farm. Chiaverini's…gift for visual imagery (Abigail going down with the Titanic; Eleanor's quilts recast as wearable art) and gentle humor (a museum exhibit's explanation of one quilt's origins) blend seamlessly into prose that, like the needlework she portrays, proves intricate, lovely, comforting and uniquely American.
— Publisher’s Weekly
[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.
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 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.
Chiaverini spins a bunch of compelling yarns and expertly weaves them together.
In this sequel to The Quilter’s Apprentice, Chiaverini, a quilter herself, has pieced together an even more beautiful story. A tale of love, courage, friendship, hope, and determination, it concerns the Elm Creek Quilters some time after this group has become professionally viable. Still focusing on Sylvia Compson and Sarah McClure, the action includes others in the group who share friendship while dealing with individual problems involving their children and spouses. Sarah still faces her difficult relationship with her mother, while Sylvia must resolve issues of loneliness and illness before she can love again. The Round Robin quilt of the title serves to bind together the women of Elm Creek Manor, who finally learn that the fabric of life consists of many tiny stitches, sometimes poorly connected. Women readers in particular will be touched and charmed. Highly recommended.
As I read Round Robin, I felt I was a member of the Elm Creek Quilters . . . and even shed a few tears. The situations the characters experience are right on the mark. What a delight to find a book so up-to-date with women’s personal issues, and working through them in the security of close friendship.
Glows with the love of quilts, the importance of family, and the value of friends to share our joys and sorrows with.
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.
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!
With quiet intelligence and dry wit, Jennifer Chiaverini explores the delicate relationships between women–mothers and daughters, sisters, and friends. The world she creates in The Quilter's Apprentice is rich with the textured, complicated lives of memorable characters engaged in the hard business of ordinary life. Chiaverini tells an involving story of strong women who sustain and nourish each other, and of the young woman who comes to find her own strength and identity, both within this affirming circle and outside it.
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.
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.
Local Author Stitches Together Intriguing Novel
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.
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.
Jennifer Chiaverini’s first novel is a heartwarming story of relationships that, like pieces of a quilt, can be connected with discord or with harmony. You’ll discover friendship here, and you’ll learn a thing or two about quilting, too.
I enjoyed every word of Jennifer Chiaverini’s story about friendship and forgiveness. She very accurately portrays the spirit and sense of humor of today’s quilters. If The Quilter’s Apprentice were a true story, I would love to be a part of Sarah’s and Sylvia’s brilliant project.
I enjoyed the way Chiaverini deftly stitched the lives of these two women together. That she chose patchwork and quilting to help tell the story was a special bonus. Tell Sarah and Sylvia I’d quilt with them any day!
A debut tale of two women, one young, one old, who learn to craft new lives and mend old ones as they sew a quilt…Nicely stitched together (and fun for quilters).
I marvel at the craft of the work, the quiet architecture which allows the story to carry the load. Like the quilts described, the novel itself is carefully pieced together and each piece feels, sounds and is fat with history and meaning. This is a quiet, beautiful novel, full of gentle wisdom and genuine humility. It is a rare work these days.
The Quilter’s Apprentice is a novel that is sure to cause some buzz in the quilting bees. Quilting propels the plot and colors the background of this first novel by Jennifer Chiaverini. It is obvious that the author practices and loves quilting herself, as her many references to the art and social context of quilting are accurate and realistic. Best of all, the conclusion ties all of the story’s threads together as only a quilter could.