The Christmas Quilt

by Jennifer Chiaverini

Elm Creek Manor, the splendid rural estate of the Bergstrom family,
has always housed multiple generations of Bergstroms. In
pre-Depression days the manor's occupants enjoy genteel prosperity,
and the thoroughbred horses they raise are the cornerstone of this

Sisters Sylvia and Claudia are lifelong rivals. Two years older
than Sylvia, Claudia is pretty and has a sunny disposition. Sylvia
is the better student, has a less-than-sunny disposition, and is an
accomplished quilter who takes great pride in besting Claudia's
amateurish quilting efforts. Though Claudia and Sylvia always vie
for their sickly mother's attention, both girls are very protective
of their little brother, Richard.

The Bergstrom family has many long-held Christmas traditions: the
baking and gifting of their famous apple strudels to their many
friends, the hiding of a glass ruby and gold ornament for the young
children to find, and selection of the Christmas tree from their
own woods by the most-recently married couple in the family.

Sylvia returns to the Bergstrom estate in rural central
Pennsylvania as its sole heir only after Claudia dies. Richard had
died in the war so very many years before. The home seems empty and
lonely to Sylvia, who had not set foot in it in 50 years. In fact,
she had fled Elm Creek Manor after a horrible misunderstanding and
remained away those many long years. Memories, by turns painful and
overwhelming, flood Sylvia's soul with each glance of the familiar

Sylvia and her young colleague, Sarah, decide to put Elm Creek
Manor to good use again by operating a summer retreat for quilting
enthusiasts. Now the manor is filled with women chatting, quilting,
and enjoying the peaceful retreat. The quilt camp is highly
successful, but the house becomes quiet during the offseason with
Sylvia, Sarah, and Sarah's husband Matt its only occupants.

As Christmas Eve dawns Sylvia wants to be alone, but Sarah is
determined to decorate and celebrate. Sylvia is adamant that Sarah
visit her mother for the holidays to try to repair frayed family
ties. Sylvia knows only too well the regret of severed family ties
across the miles and years. The house and its furnishings
continually remind her of what she has missed during the many
decades since she angrily stormed out of the house.

While rummaging in the attic for holiday decorations Sarah
discovers the Bergstrom Christmas quilt. Seeing the unfinished
quilt and the various quilt pieces, once a source of family
togetherness and continuity, almost overwhelms Sylvia. Her mother's
delicate stitches, Claudia's uneven stitches --- in fact, all the
intricate patterns and stitches by the quilt's creators so very
long ago --- speak volumes to Sylvia and strengthens her resolve:
Sarah simply must reunite with her mother.

Jennifer Chiaverini easily weaves her love and knowledge of
quilting into this interesting novel about the importance of
family. Much like a quilt, the varied patterns of the individual
lives and the binding together of those individual lives into a
cohesive unit are what make a family the uniquely crafted
masterpiece that it is.


Reviewed by Carole Turner on December 27, 2010

The Christmas Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 074328657X
  • ISBN-13: 9780739458815