August 28, 2012
The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Civil War is upon them and Anneke, Gerda, and the other ladies must watch as those they love enlist and join the war to end slavery. As their husbands are gone, they rally and organize trying to raise money for the troops and carry on life at home. Gerda makes an enterprise of writing newspaper articles under a penname while the other women makes quilts for the soldiers on the front-line and also to fund-raise. But as with most wars, happy endings are far and few between.
None of the characters were particularly charming in this book. I sympathized with Charlotte a bit, just because Gerda really was a horrible person in regards to her treatment of her. But beyond that I couldn't express any sympathy for any of them. They just seemed rather flat and not the well developed characters I'm used to seeing from Chiaverini. Some of the other characters at least did good deeds, but that was all that we really saw from them. I do have to say that the character of Abel had some decent convictions and wasn't afraid to act on them.
This is definitely a history type of book rather than a quilting book. I'm not a big reader of history so I can't comment much on its accuracy, but it would seem that Chiaverini must have done some research. And there were some gory battle scenes described; actually a lot of battle scenes, more than the quilting itself. And therein lies my problem with this novel. If it is going to be branded as part of the Elm Creek Quilts series it should contain a fair portion of quilting and be more focused on the women, rather than the history. Had this book been labeled as part of a different series I might have accepted it a little better (or chosen not to read it)but you come to expect something from a particular series and there's no shame in an author running a second series.
I do prefer the more modern Elm Creek Quilt novels and as said before, wish Chiaverini would separate her two storylines into two different series. I think it would just flow better and be easier to keep the characters straight. And then too, readers could read whatever series they wanted without feeling like they were missing something if they skipped a book.
The Union Quilters