The Master Quilter in the popular Elm Creek Quilt series is Sylvia Compson. Her unexpected elopement with Andrew has provided her friends with the perfect opportunity to make the couple a surprise wedding quilt. Letters go out to former quilt campers and local residents, but the blocks needed to make the quilt don’t come in as quickly as the ladies hoped.
While readers are waiting to see if Sylvia’s surprise quilt will be made on time, author Jennifer Chiaverini picks up where The Quilter’s Legacy left off. Those familiar with the series will recognize the names of the Elm Creek Quilters. Chiaverini moves the story forward slowly and carefully, dividing the sections by character narratives. Thus each lady provides her perspective on the same events.
This installment is lighter on the celebration of quilting and heavier on the emotional baggage. It seems all of the regulars are having troubles or facing major life decisions. The author chooses to explore all of these issues at the same time, making this tale more of a downer than previous novels. The cliques and territorial behavior exhibited throughout the story (and previous books, too) don’t make the ladies more endearing either.
The series has quite a detailed history since its debut with The Quilter’s Apprentice. In The Master Quilter, Chiaverini provides more of the background information that middle installments lacked. New readers should be able to follow the story better, but reading the novels in order is still recommended.
Though not the best installment of the series, The Master Quilter does include some startling developments toward the end. Chiaverini leaves the story open to exciting, unchartered possibilities in the future so readers will anxiously await her next book.