The latest Elm Creek Quilts novel (Circle of Quilters, 2006, etc.) moves west from the Pennsylvania manor to follow the adventures of Sylvia Bergstrom Compson’s older cousin Elizabeth.
In 1925 (when series grande dame Sylvia is just a child), Elizabeth Bergstrom marries Henry Nelson, who wants to give his young bride a home to match her beloved Elm Creek Manor. So Henry stakes everything he has to buy a cattle ranch in Southern California. The two pack up their wedding gifts, including a number of beautifully sewn Bergstrom quilts, and head off to what they expect will be a prosperous life. But when they arrive at the land office, poor Henry discovers he’s been duped with an invalid deed, leaving the newlyweds destitute. Luckily, the Jorgensens, rightful owners of the ranch, hire Henry to work in the field and give the decidedly genteel Elizabeth a job as housemaid. Of course, the couple could wire home for return train fare, but Henry is too proud, stubborn and ashamed to go back to Pennsylvania, so it will be a long life of labor before the two can realize their dream of owning a ranch in the rapidly urbanizing California landscape. Woven throughout is the tale of the Rodriguez family, original owners of the ranch. Rodriguez descendant Rosa is trapped in an ugly marriage from which Elizabeth hopes to save her. Meanwhile, the love triangle of Rosa, her cuckolded husband and Lars Jorgensen provides a much-needed melodramatic counterpoint to the lackluster tale of Henry and Elizabeth’s struggles. These strangely discordant plot lines merge in the guns-blazing finale that serves to rescue all involved.
A bland and predictable addition to a series that has had both hits and misses.