An Elm Creek Quilts Sampler: The First Three Novels in the Popular Series features three of Jennifer Chiaverini’s complete works (The Quilter’s Apprentice, Round Robin, The Cross-Country Quilters) in one book. The series spotlights a special group and their families who are bound together by their love of quilting.
The Quilter’s Apprentice is the series’ debut. Times are tough for Sarah and Matt, so they leave State College for even smaller Waterford, Pennsylvania. Matt has a new job overseeing the landscape restoration of a forgotten manor’s once majestic gardens. Sarah tags along to meet the home’s owner, a bitter old woman who is named Sylvia but demands to be called “Mrs. Compson.” She and Sarah get off on the wrong foot, but eventually strike up a friendship. Sylvia teaches Sarah the art of quilting. In return, Sarah teaches Sylvia the art of forgiveness.
The Quilter’s Apprentice chronicles the first months of friendship between Sylvia and Sarah. Members of the local quilting guild are also introduced. Author Jennifer Chiaverini reveals important background information about the characters, so it is recommended that this be the first book one reads when tackling the series.
Round Robin picks up two years after Elm Creek Quilts was established in The Quilter’s Apprentice. The second novel in the series examines the lives of the quilt camp’s staff. The group is working on a surprise round robin quilt for Sylvia. As the members work a piece of the quilt, Chiaverini takes the time to examine their lives. The author successfully exposes realistic human flaws in her characters but does little to make the cast endearing to readers. These dedicated women come off looking like petty grudge holders until everything wraps up conveniently into a nice conclusion.
The third novel, The Cross-Country Quilters, introduces readers to a handful of guests attending a week of quilt camp at the manor. The ladies become fast friends and bond during their stay. Chiaverini takes the time to look at the personal struggles of each character as she did in Round Robin. Fortunately, this group is a little more enjoyable, though they have the tendency to lack common sense when required in order to move the tale along.
An Elm Creek Quilts Sampler celebrates the art of quilting. With Chiaverini’s words, readers can appreciate the craft without mastering it. Those that do quilt will enjoy the brief history lessons given and block choices made by the characters. The author provides a complex history for her cast, revealing more information with each novel. Reading the installments in order is recommended for full appreciation of the series.