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The Quilter's Apprentice (Elm Creek Quilts Novels
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About the Author

Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, five collections of quilt projects, and several historical fiction novels. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin. To learn more, visit JenniferChiaverini.com.

Reviews

Quilting is the overall motif of this leisurely paced, predictable first novel, set in a small Pennsylvania college town. Young Sarah McClure, an accountant tired of number-crunching, has accompanied her landscaper husband to the area, but she soon finds that jobs are few and uninteresting. Discouraged, she agrees to do housework on a temporary basis at Elm Creek Manor, a mansion on the edge of town. The manor's occupant, Sylvia Compson, an embittered master quilter and widow in her 70s, has returned to the family home following the death of her sister to ready it for sale. Sylvia's story, told with increasingly long flashbacks and confidences during the private quilting lessons she agrees to give Sarah, reveal a tormented family history of wealth and privilege ruined by tragedy. Sarah's sympathy for Sylvia is juxtaposed against the innuendoes she hears at meetings of the Tangled Web Quilters, a group of local women who mistrust Sylvia. Meant to be a sympathetic catalyst, Sarah comes across as whiny instead of plucky, and the book is burdened by far too many descriptions of her job interviews and subsequent insecurities. Chiaverini is at her best when describing the manor and its once grand history, but her prose is merely serviceable and the dialogue is stilted. Sure to be compared to Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt, this novel fails to connect on an emotional level. Author tour. (Apr.)

Sandra Dallas author of The Persian Pickle Club Jennifer Chiaverini's first novel is a heartwarming story of relationships that, like pieces of a quilt, can be connected with discord or with harmony. You'll discover friendship here, and you'll learn a thing or two about quilting, too.
Marianne Fons co-author with Liz Porter of Quilter's Complete Guide and co-host of Sew Many Quilts I enjoyed every word of Jennifer Chiaverini's story about friendship and forgiveness. She very accurately portrays the spirit and sense of humor of today's quilters. If The Quilter's Apprentice were a true story, I would love to be a part of Sarah and Sylvia's brilliant project.
Charlotte Holmes author of Gifts and Other Stories With quiet intelligence and dry wit, Jennifer Chiaverini explores the delicate relationships between women -- mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. The world she creates in The Quilter's Apprentice is rich with the textured, complicated lives of memorable characters engaged in the hard business of ordinary life. Chiaverini tells an involving story of strong women who sustain and nourish each other, and of the young woman who comes to find her own strength and identity, both within this affirming circle and outside it.
Ami Simms author of How to Improve Your Quilting Stitch and Invisible Applique I enjoyed the way Chiaverini deftly stitched the lives of these two women together. That she chose patchwork and quilting to help tell the story was a special bonus. Tell Sarah and Sylvia I'd quilt with them any day!
Judy Martin quiltmaker, designer, author The Quilter's Apprentice is a novel that is sure to cause some buzz in the quilting bees. Quilting propels the plot and colors the background of this first novel by Jennifer Chiaverini. It is obvious that the author practices and loves quilting herself, as her many references to the art and social context of quilting are accurate and realistic. Best of all, the conclusion ties all of the story's threads together as only a quilter could.
Percival Everett author of Frenzy and Watershed I marvel at the craft of the work, the quiet architecture that allows the story to carry the load. Like the quilts described, the novel itself is carefully pieced together and each piece feels, sounds, and is fat with history and meaning. This is a quiet, beautiful novel, full of gentle wisdom and genuine humility. It is a rare work these days.

Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, have just moved to Waterford, PA. While Matt finds work with a landscape company, Sarah, an accountant, wants to try something new. With no leads and no offers, she is depressed and frustrated. When elderly Sylvia Compson asks Sarah to help prepare her family estate for sale, Sarah finds new friends, and Sylvia, a master craftswoman, agrees to teach Sarah how to quilt. Sarah's new relationship inspires an exchange of confidences; she learns about Sylvia's "family skeletons" while facing her own difficult relationship with her mother. Patiently piecing scraps of material, the quilters explore both women's lives, stitching details and solutions together slowly but with courage and strength. Chiaverini, a quilter herself, has pieced together a beautiful story in this first novel. Sarah and Matt are a charming couple who prove that problems really do have solutions. Women‘daughters, sisters, and mothers‘will enjoy it. Recommended.‘Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD

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