October 06, 2011

The Cross Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

The third installment in this series, Cross Country Quilters diverges from telling the tale of the ladies of Elm Creek Quilts, to telling the story of the quilt campers that come to visit. The original characters only make brief appearances but as a recap (and possible spoiler for the first two books) I'll tell a bit about them.

In the first book, Sarah, a young woman who moved with her husband is desperately looking for a job. When she meets a client of her husband's, the moody Sylvia, she at first doesn't like her. However, after being offered a job with the condition that learning to quilt will be a part of her paycheck, she grows to love Sylvia and the Elm Creek manor, and together they try to find a way to return it to its old glory.

The second book continues on with the business they develop and the troubles in their daily lives. Together, with friendship and a Round Robin quilt they are able to help each other and overcome their obstacles.

This book, as stated before, is about their guests. All there for vastly different reasons, a group of women form a unique friendship and promise to work on a Challenge quilt to put together the next year they go to quilter's camp. But part of this challenge is they have to face the challenges in their own life before making their square.

Donna, a mother to two young ladies has to deal that her daughter may be in a not healthy relationship. Originally outgoing her daughter seems to be giving everything up for her fiance. When things start to go worse and worse she begins to fear the worst and think her daughter's entered into an abusive relationship she can't handle.

Megan, a young single mother, is troubled by the problems her son is having at school and the lack of contact with his father. When she meets charming Adam, the grandson of one of the other cross-country quilter's she's scared to let herself fall for him and be heartbroken again. Not to mention she doesn't want to put her son through that as well to be betrayed a second time.

Vinnie, a sprightly grandmother, has the challenge of making her grandson Adam forget his ex-fiance who so carelessly broke his heart and find true love again. Being the matchmaker she has her eye's set on Megan as being a perfect way for that to happen.

Julia is an aging actress that is preparing for her next role in a movie that has to do with quilting. Not knowing how to quilt herself she came to the camp to learn. Now she wants to get through this movie without being replaced by younger actresses. She does a lot of growing in this novel and is a good reminder that age does not always equal maturity.

Grace, a respected quilter in her own right, is dealing with not having inspiration to quilt anymore and her secret. Her secret actually turned out to be something close to my heart and I was really able to care about her as a character. At the risk of spoiling this for others I do have to share what that secret is. Grace has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At first she finds it unbearable to live with and doesn't want anyone to know as she doesn't want their pity. She also mourns the loss of her skills as a sewer and quilter and fears that she will never be the same again or even happy. However, she learns to grow and while she may not be able to do what she once did, she can learn other ways to be happy and to enjoy her craft. You see, my father was recently diagnosed with MS and I see him in the early Grace of this book; very downtrodden and heartbroken at what life has handed to him. However, this book has given me hope that he too will work his way through this, and if not be able to do what he used to, at least be happy again. If I thought I could get him to read a book about quilting I would have him read this book in a heartbeat. It made the book very important to me.

The language of this book, like most of what I've read of Chiaverini's is in the third person. She writes extremely well and descriptive and you can see the colors of the quilts in her words. She also has an unbelievable knack of making you care for her characters. This isn't the only book of her's that I've teared up a bit at. One important thing to note however is that this book is more story than quilting instruction. Like the 2nd book this one is a novel and not a combination of quilting lore/story.

A lovely story with deeply moving moments I will definitely treasure this book. I can't wait to read the next one in this wonderful series!

The Cross Country Quilters
Copyright 2001
278 pages

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