Sylvia Bergstrom Compson throws open the doors of Elm Creek Manor to host the town’s annual Christmas Boutique.
With its recently restored community rooms, the manor is the perfect place to host the fundraiser. A suggestion to hang holiday quilts over the booths in the ballroom has every woman scrambling to find the perfect piece and reminiscing over events that spurred her to take needle to fabric. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first novel in her extensive Elm Creek Quilts series, Chiaverini’s (Resistance Women, 2019, etc.) latest installment is rich with detail: Each chapter reads like a short story, telling the tale of a particular woman’s motivation to design and craft a particular quilt. Whether inspired by love or grief, the resulting artwork is described with astonishing attention to design, workmanship, and symbolism. Chiaverini also explores how the practice of her craft transforms each woman’s emotional life, each stitch bringing her closer to a sense of peace. For the foyer, Sylvia chooses the family’s Christmas Quilt, commemorating generations of quilters, each of whom struggled to complete the piece. Her sister-in-law, Agnes, chooses an appliqued cactus-block piece, recalling her discovery of a mysteriously hidden quilt and the quest to find its maker. Yet a few dark events overshadow the merry festivities, causing two quilters to debate whether they can contribute anything to the Boutique, and such omissions may mean losing their places in the community. But Elm Creek is a forgiving society that rewards each woman’s courage in facing her demons and confessing her sins. Devotees of the Quilts series will relish these new episodes, and new fans will delight to discover such a well-stocked back catalog.
A warm portrait of women bound by craft—perfect for fireside reading.