Monday, December 27, 2010

The Quilter's Apprentice - Jennifer Chiaverini

Summary:  When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to Waterford, Pennsylvania, she hopes to make a fresh start in the small college town.  Unable to find a job both practical and fulfilling, she takes a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping its reclusive owner, Sylvia Compson, prepare her family estate for sale after the death of her estranged sister.  Sylvia is also a master quilter and , as part of Sarah's compensation, offers to share the secrets of her creative gifts with the younger woman.

During their lessons, the intricate, varied threads of Sylvia's life begin to emerge.  It is the story of a young wife living through the hardships and agonies of the World War II home front; of a family torn apart by jealousy and betrayal; of misunderstandings, loss, and a tragedy that can never be undone.  As the bond between them deepens, Sarah resolves to help Sylvia free herself from remembered sorrows and restore her life--and her home--to its former glory.  In the process, she confronts painful truths about her own family, even as she creates new dreams for the future.

Just as the darker sections of a quilt can enhance the brighter ones, the mistakes of the past can strengthen understanding and lead the way to new beginnings.  The powerful debut novel by a gifted storyteller, The Quilter's Apprentice tells a timeless tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness as two women weave the disparate pieces of their lives into a bountiful and harmonious whole.  (Summary from back of the book and image from  http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/)

My Review:  For the purpose of this review, I feel that I must mention that I am not a quilter and have never been exposed to the world of quilting besides a quick jaunt through the State Fair buildings.  Although, I have always admired quilts and have "peice and sew my own quilt" on my bucket list of things to do before I die.  I think quilt makers/lovers would probably eat this book up.  I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the quilting process, even if at times it was hard to picture.  The author kindly put pictures of the quilt squares Sarah worked on for her sampler quilt at the beginning of the book and I referenced them regularly while reading.  I also enjoyed the camaraderie the ladies shared in their quilting group.  The way Chiaverini describes the friendship it makes you want to take up quilting just to have the good friends and treats.  This is a good, clean read, one I wouldn't mind recommending to any age based on content.

The reason I couldn't give this book a higher rating was because, time and again, I had to force myself to pick up the book and finish.  It wasn't that it was a bad book, or that the characters are unrelatable.  I just didn't have a hard time putting it down.  It might have been from the sadness that hovers around Sylvia's life and my hesitation to learn more of the ghosts that haunt her.  Maybe it was because I read this just before and during the Thanksgiving break from school and my mind was on other things.  Regardless, I wasn't so wrapped up in the story that I couldn't put it down and therefore I could not give it quite a 4 star rating.

Rating:  3.75 stars

Sum it up: A charming tale of personal growth, forgiveness, and the love of quilting.

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