Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Master Quilter opens with the sound of wedding bells ringing in the ears of the Elm Creek Quilters. The close-knit group can hardly believe that their own Sylvia Compson planned her holiday wedding to sweetheart Andrew in complete secrecy, without the help of even one of her friends. Eager to honor the newlyweds, the Elm Creek Quilters hasten to stitch a bridal quilt for their favorite Master Quilter. Until the time comes to unveil the surprise gift, they reason, Sylvia will be the one in the dark.

Such little white lies seem harmless enough, especially in the service of future happiness. Yet Elm Creek Manor, and the quilting retreat established there by the Elm Creek Quilters, thrives on the strength of women sharing their creativity, their challenges, and their dreams. Somehow, in the race to commemorate in Sylvia's bridal quilt all that they hold dear about her wisdom, skill, and devotion, they forget to give honesty its pride of place.

As the quilt blocks accumulate, the Elm Creek Quilters celebrate the joy of new beginnings and the ongoing success of their business -- until forces conspire to threaten their happiness and prosperity. Two among them falter in their personal relationships, yet they are too proud to share their pain. The financial problems of another leave the quilt project vulnerable to a malicious act that may prevent its completion. And as two others weigh the comfort of the present against dreams of a future far from Elm Creek Manor, closely guarded secrets strain the bonds of friendship with those who may be left behind.

The Dallas Morning News has praised the Elm Creek Quilts series as "classics of their kind," and The Master Quilter is Chiaverini's latest gift to readers.

I my review of the last book I read in this series, (The Quilter's Apprentice)I said that it took me a long time to get into the book, and that it wasn't as good as the earlier books in the series, and I am sorry to report that the same is true of this entry in the series. In fact, I enjoyed this one even less than the last one.

When trying to think why, I think it was because the focus shifted again from the past and returned to the original characters that were featured in the The Quilter's Apprentice, but instead of an affirming story of friendship, there was conflict, and secrets amongst other things. Some of the topics were also much bleaker including the very volatile breakdown of a marriage and old rivalries that came to a confrontation. So whilst the book was much darker in tone, and more realistic I guess, I am not one hundred percent sure that this is what I wanted to read at the time - so some of my issues about this book are probably more about me than the book really.

Yes, in the end, there was resolution, and there are changes afoot at Elm Creek Quilts. The writing was still good. I do have the next book in the series to read. Hopefully the next book will meet my expectations a little more.

Rating 3/5

Finished reading 29 December 2006


  1. Coincidentally, I picked up Round Robin (the second?) in the series at the library yesterday. I'm not loving it, too sweet for my liking, but a reliable book friend recommended the series so I'll persist.

  2. The first three were pretty sweet. I was most interested in the ones set in the past.

  3. I was very excited about this series when I first heard of it because it's about quilters and I'm trying to start quilting myself. Your reviews have made me think twice though...

  4. I found the first book sort of like a comfort read. It was a nice story about friendships and all that but by the third I just grew tired of the series. It just seemed the same. And, I agree with Lazy Cow, too sweet.

  5. Ana, I did really enjoy the first few books in the series, and I am looking forward to the next ones where they go back to the past again. This one, and the last one didn't really grab me, but all the rest were good.

  6. I have read all of these up to the Master Quilter and found them fascinating. The stories weave back and forth just as the intricasies (sp)of quilt making do. Some are prosaic and some stitched with amazing fineness.
    The issues raised are realistic and the realtionshsip genuine - then blend together as the colours and patterns of a quilt - the metaphor is a powerful one; for indeed women and their relationshps are like this. Chiaverini's ability to tell one story from many revealing angles in this last book was creative and insightful. IMHO



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