Quiltsgiving is a new tradition at Elm Creek Manor, and this November, the women will devote themselves to making quilts for Project Linus, which gathers homemade blankets for needy children. In giving to others, they may heal themselves.
The latest in Chiaverini’s (Sonoma Rose, 2012, etc.) prolific Elm Creek Quilts series finds women gathering at Elm Creek Manor. Focusing on five of the participants, Chiaverini relates each woman’s sufferings in mind-numbing detail. A member of the renowned Cherokee Rose Quilters, Pauline has forsaken her own guild’s retreat to come to the Manor. Although she loves her guild, she cannot understand why one of the other members is so hostile toward her. Hostilities have escalated so far that she is contemplating leaving her beloved guild. Linnea, a librarian, has spent the last months battling Close the Book, an organization intent upon closing her library, and the tempers get hotter every day. Michaela, the youngest quilter at the retreat, arrives on crutches, her ankle ruined and her dreams of professional cheerleading dashed. But was her fall at tryouts an accident or something more sinister? Recently widowed, Jocelyn has stepped into her late husband’s role of coaching their school’s Imagination Quest. Working with the children was fantastic, but possible cheating at the competition troubles her. Karen, one of the most talented quilters, worries that her beloved shop may not survive in the face of Internet stores. The women bond in conversation, telling their stories, detailing their slights and questioning their own reactions. These ironically self-centered women gain much more from Quiltsgiving than they give. Project Linus becomes little more than the backdrop for yet another story about women offering each other support to return home and face their troubles.
Rather than harmonizing disparate scraps, this quilt leaves the highly wrought patches unstitched.