June 29, 2013
The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
I almost didn't pick this book up. After several of the past books in the series (this is the 20th book in the series) not having much to do about quilting, I wasn't really that interested in reading another that I thought would follow the same pattern. But it was sitting there on the library shelf and I thought, "why not try again." And I have mixed feelings about the experience.
As a departure from the last book, we are taken back in time to the original Elm Creek Quilters and their business of running a quilt camp. They are gathered for their annual retreat to make quilts for Project Linus and each of the visitors to the camp will be there free, but donate their quilts at the end. Most of the campers have their own struggles however, and this week at camp is used to make them relax and reflect on their lives while doing good for someone else.
This book is all about the campers. We don't get to experience much of the original characters we have grown to love in the beginning of the series. I'm not saying that the new campers are bad characters, I enjoyed some of them (and some I did not), but it seems a shame to give the original characters such a side role in this book. I liked Pauline, and her situation seemed realistic in that groups, even Quilter's groups, can get catty sometimes. But some of the others were a bit too outrageous to be believable and every camper had a "bad person" out to get them. I suppose there were a few campers there without problems, but we didn't really get to interact with them at all.
There was a lot of quilting in this one. And for that I was happy. A big problem with some of the later books in the series is that quilting technique is barely mentioned let alone quilts even being mentioned, so to have processes and fabric and classes being taught in this book was a big step back in the right direction. But then Chiaverini would get distracted with the campers side stories and those went on a little too long. I didn't much care to hear about all the detail of a cheerleader's career path or the minute detail of a middle school extra-curricular activity. And some readers may be put off by some of the views Chiaverini puts forth in this book (book burning, unions, etc.).
This wasn't one of her worst books by far, but it wasn't up to the old standard that the Elm Creek Quilters used to have. I can't say I won't ever read another book by her, but I won't seek them out either.
The Giving Quilt