©2002 Jennifer Claverini; (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC
"Chiaverini manages to impart a healthy dollop of history in a folksy style, while raising moral questions in a suspenseful narrative." (Publishers Weekly)
I have read several of the Elm Creek Quilters series and have enjoyed them all. I found this one particularly interesting as I am a history buff. The story line is wonderful and I enjoyed getting to now Sylvia even better as a character.
I so wanted to like this book. It has much that appealed to me - strong women, quilting, a bit of history and the courage of all who participated in the underground railway.
But the characters are uniformly predictable. No one evolves or develops; there are no moral quandaries or moments of self-doubt and enlightenment. No one's beliefs, character or behavior veers off the path of stereo-type.
The two primary characters are the same unpleasant, judgmental, self-righteous and selfish personality, living 150 years apart. The colorless characters who surround them are generic and almost disposable. Silva's gentleman friend appears to be added as a total after thought when an editor noted there were no men portrayed in modern times. Scenes with Andrew should have been pruned entirely as he adds nothing to the novel.
This might be forgivable if the story were credible, but it isn't. No matter how much we may wish it were not so, a black family, slave or free, would never have received the same treatment at the hand of society and the law as a white family would. Discussions of "held without charge" and "due process" were laughable in the context of a rural community in mid-19th century. They would be lucky to see a circuit-riding judge once a year for proper trials. An immigrant with no money and no husbandry experience would not gain prominence and wealth as a horse breeder in just a few years. Gerda talks about being isolated and far from any resources on the farm, but she is able to drive her sister-in-law to and from work in the carriage every day. The only time she complains about being overworked, there are 3 women in the home full-time.
Anachronisms abound. One of the most telling to me was that when a dirty, rough stranger touched one of the women in the early period, there was not a hue and cry over the sacrilege, but when a modern woman accidentally brushed the back of a man's hand in the library, she was mortified.
The narrator was not horrible except in the way she voiced a female slave from Virginia. But I kept imagining Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher (in "Murder She Wrote") with her thin lips pursed in disapproval when someone behaves in a way she finds deplorable. I do not know if the women would have been less unpleasant with a different narrator, but Christina Moore certainly reinforced my already negative opinion of them
Finally, Silva is obsessed with her ancestors and how noble they were. A few problems with this are obvious. Noble ancestors do not a noble offspring make. No one is wholly noble - something Silva seems to find unimaginable. And as the last in this noble line, just who is Silva preserving this heritage for? She should be finding a research university to curate everything, not hoarding it for herself.
This book could have unfolded with new discoveries about history and all that we cherish and value, but instead it bores with no whiff of nuance or ambiguity. That is sad.
I live to sew and sew to live. I love being able to listen to these wonderful stories of women lives, friendships and challenges while I'm sewing. You really don't need to know how to sew or quilt to appreciate thesae stories. I have also listened while driving and not wanted to get out of the car after an entire day of driving.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
What I liked best about the story was the plot. A quilt, which was shown to her and referred to as, The Log Cabin Quilt, started Julia on her quest to begin the search about her ancestors.
Christina Moore's performance was very well done. The narrator will sometimes be the deciding factor if I'll listen to a book or shelve it. She presented the characters, using a consistent voice for each one, moved at a good pace, the words were quite clear and the varied emotions of anger, sadness, pleasure, etc. were well done. The narrator made the story a good and enjoyable listen.
The moment in the book that particularly moved me was when Joanne, a runaway slave, prior to the Civil War, 1858-1859, was discovered hidden at the home of Julia's great aunt Gierada, (sic).
The book went back and forth to the pertinent years of 1858-1859 and the year 2002. Julia, after a long, determined, hot and dusty search in the attic, found a wooden trunk with brass handles. Julia's great aunt Lucinda had given her the key that would open the trunk. She had always meant to look for the trunk but did not really want to go through the trouble of rooting in the attic, so Julia would push the thought away. That was until, The Log Cabin Quilt, was shown to her at the end of a quilting conference, when she was shown the quilt by a stranger. The stranger, Mary, questioned Julia about the quilt because of the scenes that were portrayed on it. The scenes were consistent with structures, mountains, water, etc., that were part of the landscape of Julia's home. Mary was certain that the quilt, which was very well worn, may be a link to their lineage. Julia found three quilts in the trunk. When she took out the last quilt and began to gingerly open it, a black leather book fell to the floor. Julia discovered, after she had started to read it, what she thought was a journal, was a memoir, written by her great aunt Gierada, (sic). This thin, leather book was the beginning of Julia's discovery into her past.
I loved the historical aspect of this book. As always, the characters are strong and believable as in all of Jennifer's books. Can't wait to start another book in the Elm Creek Quilter's series!
I have been enjoying this Elm Creek Quilt Series immensely and must admit this 4th in the series is most disappointing. While the historical context and characters involved with the pre Civil War era Underground Railroad were interesting, I found it overbearing. The charming nature of Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek characters only briefly appeared in this story. I'm sure I will continue on with the series, but will take a break after this disappointment.
Yes, the story line is engaging AND the reader (Christina Moore) brings the entire experience to life! Jennifer Chiaverini's books are filled with details that flesh out each character and situation, making both believeable. You do not have to be a quilter to enjoy each book.
The historical aspect of this book and the characters that are encountered in other works makes this book particularly satisfying. Although this book could easily be experienced as a "stand alone" if the reader/listener was just starting the Chiaverini series, it is even better when you have some character background from other boks.
I have listened to at least 10 of Christina Moore's performances and all I can say is she truly makes the book come alive!! I have actually looked for other books where she is the reader - not so much for the subject matter, BUT because she is such a talented performer.
Joanna would be my choice to spend time with! I love her character and admire how she is portrayed. Her strength and determination are inspiring - even to us reader/listeners! Also..........I have a bunch of unanswered questions that she could easily handle! Ha.
I am, admittedly, a Jennifer Chiaverini .........addict! Her stories are captivating, the characters totally believable and I await each new book! For readers/listeners seeking an "escape" that is filled with people that one can truly believe existed, and situations that never appear contrived but are totally plausible and NO unnecessary vocabulary, vulgarity or ............X rated anything - this is a safe and satisfying choice.
Yes, it's full of history and intriuge. The more the story went on, the more I wanted to learn.
When they found the journal detailing a family secret.
Yes, she's wonderful.
I think it's the perfect name for this chapter of the Elm Creek Quilters adventures.
I have been listening to all of the Elm Creek Quilters books in order from the 1st to now this one and with each book I'm learning more and more about Sylvia and her family history as well as quilt history....I can't stop listening to these wonderful books. Even if I only have a 10 minute drive to the store, I'm linking up my iPhone with my bluetooth stereo so I can listen in the car! I'm hooked on this series of books, they are just a joy to listen to.
One story woven from two. The first is a modern day group that offers quilting camp for quilters. As a non-quilter, that part of the story was pretty slow for me. The second story revolves around some quilts and a journal found from over 100 years ago. This part of the story is fascinating, but questioned by some authentic quilters. Whether true or not, it's certainly a great story and very intriguing.
The characters were well developed and believable.
Both. I felt anger at the slave owners and respect for the bravery of the Underground Railroad participants.
I can't wait to read more of the books in this series.
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