Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts series has drawn readers in for five books now, and the sixth, THE MASTER QUILTER, will be no different.
The beloved characters from the previous books are back. This time, the Elm Creek Quilters are trying to arrange a wedding quilt as a surprise present for newlyweds Sylvia and Andrew. To help make the quilt, the Elm Creek Quilters contact various minor characters from earlier books to have them contribute quilt blocks.
Meanwhile, Sarah's ability to keep a secret is tested, especially by her husband, Matthew. But both she and Sylvia seem to have minor roles in this book compared to some of the other characters. Bonnie is having financial problems with Grandma's Attic and, even worse, marital difficulties. Diane is feeling unappreciated by her fellow quilters and suspects that her son has begun his bad ways again. Gwen is trying to deal with her peers at the college who tell her that quilting is not a serious academic subject; she feels pressured to stop studying what she loves and concentrate on what is "in." Summer, Gwen's daughter, is moving in with her boyfriend without telling her mother, and she's juggling career choices as well.
Agnes is there for Bonnie, but her role is minor. She's her usual self: helpful, loyal and a good friend. When she does some investigation work to help out Bonnie, we see a different side of the usually reserved Agnes.
The prose here is wonderful, much like the images of quilts throughout the book. The characters are more fleshed out in this latest installment; it is interesting to see them struggling with decisions that any person could face in real life. The history among the characters is respected, which adds to the power of the story. Past relationships are brought in; the nicest was the hostility between Diane and her neighbor Mary Beth, the President of the other quilting club. The messages of friendship and loyalty are still there, and the fact that, six books later, these characters are still interesting is a testament to Chiaverini's writing abilities.
This is a series that can continue for the foreseeable future, and that is a good thing. These characters have a lot of stories left in them, and Chiaverini is bringing them to life in a wonderful way.
Reviewed by Melissa A. Palmer on January 7, 2011
The Master Quilter: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel