October 06, 2011

Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini

The 2nd in the series of the Elm Creek Quilts collection, Round Robin comes after the first book, The Quilter's Apprentice. While this story was just as charming as the first, I was disappointed to find that there wasn't as much quilt lore or instruction in this novel. It was more just a work of fiction than the half fiction/ half quilting fun I had discovered in The Quilter's Apprentice.

Instead of focusing mostly on Sylvie and Sarah, this time the novel stretched to cover the trials and tribulations of the whole Elm Creek Quilter's Guild. It takes place two years after the first book and the Elm Creek Quilter's Retreat that is located on Sylvie's historic estate has grown into a big success. So big that they were even featured in a television show on unique backwoods places.

However, due to a careless comment she made on the show, Sarah ends up hurting her mother yet again. There's has been a relationship full of trouble and arguments. Seeking to repair that, Sylvie invites Sarah's mother Carol to come and stay at the retreat and learn to quilt, hoping that in the process she and Sarah will learn to respect each other again. This proves tougher than she thinks as the two cannot stop arguing or saying the wrong things to each other. Sarah also finds herself growing further apart from her husband as well. Feeling isolated she has to find a way to deal with her emotions alone.

Meanwhile Diane is trying to figure out how to make her son behave. Recently arrested for skateboarding in a no-skateboard area, she realizes that he's not acting out because he wants to, there's literally no legal area to skateboard in town. She and her husband construct a ramp in the backyard, but nosy neighbors report them and the city forces them to take it down. Problems ensue as a result.

Judy, who has known all her life that her biological father didn't want contact with her, receives a surprising letter from him. Upon opening it however, she discovers its from her half-sister who is very eager to meet her. She has to decide whether to open old hurts for a chance to meet new family.

Gwen and Summer, while they rarely have problems between themselves come to an argument that threatens to break them apart. Gwen has high aspiration for her daughter and wants her to go on to graduate school. Summer on the other hand, has different plans for her life. But she doesn't want to disappoint Gwen.

Bonnie, previously thinking her life was happy, finds that her husband has been emotionally cheating on her over the Internet. She also discovers that it could take another step further into a physical relationship. She wants to save her marriage, but isn't sure how to do it.

These ladies, with the help of each other, face their problems and try to find the best solution for themselves. Throughout it they have one common goal that ties them together, a round robin quilt that is a surprise for Sylvia. The quilt is really the only bit of quilting information that is done in this novel. It explains how one is made but doesn't really go into detail on the intricacies of it. This was somewhat disappointing to me but not enough for me to not enjoy the story. After all, there are several more books in the series and more quilting lore is probably encased in those stories.

The writing in this book is once again done in the third person. Since there wasn't as much quilting information in this book the terminology was definitely much easier to understand. It was easy to connect to the characters and you could care about them. I even felt myself tear up at a few points in the story. Overall I was pleased with the novel.

Round Robin
Copyright 2000
247 pages

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