Title: Circle of Quilters
Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Published: 2006, Simon & Schuster
Category: General Fiction
This is the ninth in Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts series about a group of women who run a quilting retreat in Pennsylvania. I've enjoyed all of these books, but they are a little hit-and-miss. My favorites of them are historical novels, dealing with ancestors of the current quilters--Sugar Camp Quilt and The Runaway Quilt. (But then I generally have a preference for historicals.) The contemporary novels are good too, though The Christmas Quilt was, I thought, pretty boring. They're all sweet and nice, cozy novels where everyone is good and the villains are simply misunderstood or disagreeable. The books can approach the overly saccharine, but they never cross the line.
Two of the original gang of quilters are leaving Elm Creek, so applications are being taken for replacements. This novel is basically five short stories, each about a different applicant. Maggie, whose discovery of an antique quilt at a yard sale puts her onto quilting and changes her life. Karen, a young mother, who wants to re-enter the workforce and get away from constant mommyhood. Anna, a chef who is looking for extra money to allow her to open her own restaurant. Russell (a man!), who took up quilting as a way of coping with the grief at the death of his wife from cancer. And Gretchen, a veteran quilter, who is looking to get away from an overbearing and ego-crushing boss.
The Elm Creek quilters didn't pick my favorite two, but I think that the choices will work well for future novels.
One of the reasons I like these books so much is because I am a quilter myself, and they inspire me to get back to it. And Chiaverini is a good storyteller who can craft characters who, though they are themselves very ordinary, the reader comes to care about a great deal.
So, not my favorite Elm Creek book. (I think Sugar Camp Quilt is the best.) But still good.