Sunday, May 2

The Quilter's Legacy - Jennifer Chiaverini

Sylvia Compton is looking forward to marrying Andrew, the beau from her past who unexpectedly reappeared in her present, long past the time she thought she could expect love to find her again. She's looking forward to marriage, but exhausted by the wedding planning process - and her Elm Creek Quilts friends seem determined to turn what ought to be a quiet, garden ceremony into a major performance.
When Sylvia realises that her mother's quilts aren't safely stored in Elm Creek Manor's attic, as she supposed, but were instead sold off by her sister, Sylvia finds something else to focus on. With the assistance of the youngest Elm Creek Quilter, Summer, Sylvia and Andrew launch a hunt for the missing quilts - first online and then in person. They drive across America, quilt hunting en route to visiting Andrew's children, to let them know about the forthcoming wedding.
Using the stories of the missing quilts, Chiaverini launches into an unexplored past and a secondary plot - we visit 1899 and meet Eleanor, the protected younger daughter of a self-made businessman. Eleanor was never expected to survive childhood, and the doctor's grim diagnoses serve as obstacles to overcome rather than limitations. With the tacit encouragement of her governess, Miss Langley, Eleanor develops into a woman capable of thinking for herself, rather than a meek and mild miss, subservient to her family's needs.
Chiaverini has clearly researched the era, as details subtly rise through the text, but there's never even a hint of leaden exposition. Instead the reader learns about suffrage in the US at the turn of the last century, alongside changing mores and the tight grasp of tradition.
The rounded, developed characters, strong but believable women, crisp dialogue, involving plot and satisfying ending are a given. The Quilter's Legacy also incorporating all my favourite elements of Chiaverini's writing - a neat marriage of past and present, the way family lore and assumption can contort, depictions of the way events of the past trickle into the present, crystalline portrayals of the complexity of family relationships, and the tension between pleasing others and pleasing oneself. It's been almost month between reading The Quilter's Legacy and reviewing it, and revisiting this lovely book makes me want to read it again. Just lovely. - Alex

The Elm Creek Quilt series:
1. The Quilter's Apprentice
2. Round Robin
3. The Cross-Country Quilters
The Runaway Quilt
5. The Quilter's Legacy
The Master Quilter
7. The Sugar Camp Quilt
8. The Christmas Quilt
9. Circle of Quilters
10. The Quilter's Homecoming
11. The New Year's Quilt
12. The Winding Ways Quilt
13. The Quilter's Kitchen

14. The Lost Quilter
15. A Quilter's Holiday
16. The Aloha Quilt

No comments: