One of the things that I’ve admired about Jennifer Chiaverini’s books are how she can remain true to the Elm Creek Quilts novel series but still have ways to branch out in new directions with new characters. Her latest book The Giving Quilt takes place at Elm Creek Manor with many of our favorite characters present to lead a quilting retreat the week after Thanksgiving.
Instead of workshops covering different quilting techniques, the quilters are all making quilts to donate to Project Linus, a real organization that collects handmade quilts and blankets to distribute to children in need.
The first chapter introduces us to five new characters from different parts of the country who are attending “Quiltsgiving” this year: Pauline, Linnea, Michaela, Jocelyn, and Karen. Then each character gets to tell her story and struggles in her own chapter. The final chapters cover how the characters resolve to deal with these struggles and how the act of quilting and the act of giving help them move forward.
Like all of Jennifer’s books, there are some characters who we’ve seen before. Karen was one of the quilting instructors who applied to teach at Elm Creek in Circle of Quilters. It is also mentioned that Michaela’s mother attended Elm Creek, but I’m not sure if she was a specific character or not.
I recently re-read Jennifer’s historical books (The Sugar Camp Quilt, The Runaway Quilt, The Lost Quilter, and The Union Quilters) to have a better grasp of how the characters and events relate to each other Because some of those characters names were fresh in my head I noticed a few clues that might develop in future books.
It is mentioned that Linnea’s husband Kevin’s has a distant cousin who mentioned had attended a Nelson family reunion that took place at Elm Creek Manor. Thomas and Dorthea Nelson are characters in the historical books. And Jocelyn, an African-American character, has a family getaway in North Carolina. The description of that place sounds very similar to the place where Johanna, a runaway slave who appears in The Runaway Quilt and whose story is told in The Lost Quilter.
The Giving Quilt is being released today and is available in hardback.