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
- 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’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
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.
— Marianne Fons, author of QUILTER’S COMPLETE GUIDE
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
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
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.”—BitchMedia
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