About a year ago I read my first Jennifer Chiaverini novel, The Quilter's Homecoming. This book is actually the 10th in a series and because I enjoyed it so much I went back and started reading from the beginning. I blame Mrs. Chiaverini for a narrow scope of reading last year instead of my usual variety, but it was a wonderful year spent with new quilting friends. In fact, I would say that because I read this series I went out into my new town and found a quilt guild, in hopes of, in some small way, sharing in the camaraderie that I found within these novels. (Now I feel better for reading one series in one year.)
I just finished book 19 (out of 20) and found it to be one of the most interesting reads. It was a good story, one that I would recommend, but she used a writing technique that I found captivating. The Quilter's Homecoming was published in 2007 and Sonoma Rose in 2012, however, both share the same story line from two different characters' points-of-view.
The Quilter's Homecoming follows Elizabeth, cousin to the matriarch of the series, as she embarks on life in California with her new husband. It was a fantastic book and I enjoyed it immensely. Elizabeth befriends a Spanish woman named Rosa who is being abused by her husband. He runs the local post office out of their home so there are several interactions between Elizabeth and Rosa. In the end Elizabeth is instrumental in helping Rosa change her circumstances.
Five years later...we embark on the same story inside the post office via Sonoma Rose. Elizabeth is coming to visit Rosa, our main character. It was a little strange at first and I wondered where the author was going to take the story. Mrs. Chiaverini flawlessly filled in the back story and we then followed Rosa into her new life, full of suspense and surprises.
I shared this story writing technique with my son who hopes to be a writer someday and he was fascinated that she pulled it off so convincingly. After thinking about the difficulty of writing a "fresh" story from two perspectives I was thoroughly impressed. Mrs. Chiaverini pulled it off and I enjoyed the second even more than the first, probably because I knew what was going on just down the road, so to speak.
Mrs. Chiaverini is a wonderful writer, but when she pulls in historical elements, whether it be the Civil War or the Roaring 20's, she is a masterful story-teller. I have one more book to read, The Giving Quilt and I'm a little sad that I will not have a Chaiverini novel waiting for me on the shelves when I'm done with it. I do have a variety of books that I'd like to get back to, but I will miss my quilting friends and their ongoing story.
If you are looking for light reading, whether you are into quilting or not, I highly recommend The Elm Creek Quilters series. I think you'll make some new friends along the way, as well.
My favorites: The Runaway Quilt, The Quilter's Holiday, The Aloha Quilt, The Union Quilters and Sonoma Rose.
My least favorites: Circle of Quilters, The New Year's Quilt, The Quilter's Kitchen.
You can find all you want to know about Elm Creek here.
BTW, Jennifer Chiaverini has written a new book outside of the series, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.