Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review: The Christmas Quilt

Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Title: The Christmas Quilt
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: Nov 8, 2005
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: 
When Christmas Eve comes to Elm Creek Manor, the tenor of the holiday is far from certain. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, has her own reasons for preferring a quiet, even subdued, Christmas. Her young friend Sarah McClure, however, takes the opposite view and decides to deck the halls brightly. As she explores the trunks packed with Bergstrom family decorations that haven't been touched in more than fifty years, Sarah discovers a curious Christmas quilt. Begun in seasonal fabrics and patterns, the quilt remains unfinished.

Sylvia reveals that the handiwork spans several generations and a quartet of Bergstrom quilters -- her great aunt, her mother, her sister, and herself. As she examines the array of quilt blocks each family member contributed but never completed, memories of Christmases past emerge.

At Elm Creek Manor, Christmas began as a celebration of simple virtues -- joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving. As each successive generation of Bergstroms lived through its unique trials -- the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II -- tradition offered sustenance even during the most difficult times. For Sylvia, who is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten, reconciliation with her personal history may prove as elusive as piecing the Christmas Quilt.

Elm Creek Manor is full of secrets, from a Christmas tree with unusual properties to the sublime Bergstrom strudel recipe. Sylvia's tales at first seem to inform her family legacy but ultimately illuminate far more, from the importance of women's art to its place in commemorating our shared experience, at Christmastime and in every season.

Review: I've read a few of Jennifer Chiaverini's books, but I don't think I've loved one as much as I have this one.

The story is told in the present and in flashbacks and by the time the last page is turned there will be a tear or two in your eyes. (In my case, I was crying like a baby.)

I love emotional family stories, and this was absolutely perfect. It blends tradition, with trials, love and forgiveness, as well as dealing with regrets.

I absolutely loved Sylvia. My heart ached for her many times through the course of her life. Her sister, Claudia, I wanted to pop in the nose. She was a snot nosed brat, who seemed to grow up into a snot nosed adult.

The sibling rivalry between the two is priceless and heartbreaking. As events in the present bring back memories from Sylvia's past, it is easy to see why she might not be as into Christmas as her friend Sarah. Though as the story unfolds, it is easy to see why she wants Sarah to reconcile with her mother.

Sylvia truly had a life that was full of sadness, though their were good times as well. It is just a shame that she had to reconcile with memories rather than people.

A beautifully written holiday story that anyone can appreciate.

Rating: 5 flowers


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