Tangled, anxious thoughts relaxed when she felt the fabric beneath her fingers and remembered that she was creating something beautiful enough to delight the eyes as well as the heart, something strong enough to defeat the cold of a Pennsylvania winter night. She could do these things. She, Sarah, had the power to do these things.
From debut novelist Jennifer Chiaverini comes The Quilter's Apprentice, a delightful, timeless story of loyalty and friendship.
When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to the small town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, to get a fresh start, Sarah struggles to find a fulfilling job. Disheartened by failed interviews, she reluctantly accepts a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale after the recent death of Sylvia's estranged sister. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this reclusive, cantankerous master quilter.
During their lessons, Mrs. Compson slowly opens up to Sarah, sharing powerful, devastating stories of her life as a young woman on the World War II home front. Hearing tales of how Mrs. Compson's family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, Sarah is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about her own family — truths that she has denied for far too long. As the friendship between the two women deepens, Mrs. Compson confides that although she would love to remain at her beloved family estate, Elm Creek Manor exists as a constant, unbearable reminder of her role in her family's misfortune. For Sarah, there can be no greater reward than teaching Mrs. Compson to forgive herself for her past mistakes, restoring life and joy to her cherished home.
Heartfelt and inspiring, The Quilter's Apprentice teaches deep lessons about family, friendship, and sisterhood — and about creating a life as you would a quilt: with time, love, and patience, piecing the miscellaneous and mismatched scraps into a harmonious, beautiful whole.
About the Author
Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of Elm Creek Quilts novels, as well as four collections of quilt projects inspired by the series, and is the designer of the Elm Creek Quilts fabric lines from Red Rooster Fabrics. She lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.
Quilting is the overall motif of this leisurely paced, predictable first novel, set in a small Pennsylvania college town. Young Sarah McClure, an accountant tired of number-crunching, has accompanied her landscaper husband to the area, but she soon finds that jobs are few and uninteresting. Discouraged, she agrees to do housework on a temporary basis at Elm Creek Manor, a mansion on the edge of town. The manor's occupant, Sylvia Compson, an embittered master quilter and widow in her 70s, has returned to the family home following the death of her sister to ready it for sale. Sylvia's story, told with increasingly long flashbacks and confidences during the private quilting lessons she agrees to give Sarah, reveal a tormented family history of wealth and privilege ruined by tragedy. Sarah's sympathy for Sylvia is juxtaposed against the innuendoes she hears at meetings of the Tangled Web Quilters, a group of local women who mistrust Sylvia. Meant to be a sympathetic catalyst, Sarah comes across as whiny instead of plucky, and the book is burdened by far too many descriptions of her job interviews and subsequent insecurities. Chiaverini is at her best when describing the manor and its once grand history, but her prose is merely serviceable and the dialogue is stilted. Sure to be compared to Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt, this novel fails to connect on an emotional level.
Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD - Library Journal
Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, have just moved to Waterford, PA. While Matt finds work with a landscape company, Sarah, an accountant, wants to try something new. With no leads and no offers, she is depressed and frustrated. When elderly Sylvia Compson asks Sarah to help prepare her family estate for sale, Sarah finds new friends, and Sylvia, a master craftswoman, agrees to teach Sarah how to quilt. Sarah's new relationship inspires an exchange of confidences; she learns about Sylvia's "family skeletons" while facing her own difficult relationship with her mother. Patiently piecing scraps of material, the quilters explore both women's lives, stitching details and solutions together slowly but with courage and strength. Chiaverini, a quilter herself, has pieced together a beautiful story in this first novel. Sarah and Matt are a charming couple who prove that problems really do have solutions. Women — daughters, sisters, and mothers — will enjoy it. Recommended.
Anderson Independent Mail - Kathryn Smith
Glows with the love of quilts, the importance of family and the value of friends to share our joys and sorrows with.
A debut tale of two women, one young, one old, who learn to craft new lives and mend old ones as they sew a quilt. Sarah McClure gives up her accounting job when her husband Matt, long laid off, is offered a landscape design position in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Once moved in, Sarah begins her job search, but with little success. Since time lies heavy on her hands, she accompanies Matt when he calls on his client, Mrs. Compson, an elderly widow who lives at Elm Creek Manor, a run-down estate. Mrs. Compson wants to restore the estate she has recently inherited from her estranged sister, Claudia, so that she can sell it. Curtly, she offers Sarah a job sweeping and clearing the house. Though a bit insulted, Sarah decides to accept the offer when she learns that a prizewinning quilt hanging in the window of a local shop was made by Mrs. Compson. She'll work-if Mrs. Compson will also teach her how to quilt. And so it goes. While she labors over various quilt blocks, from Log Cabin to the Sawtooth Star, the two women become friends, reminiscing about the past. Elm Creek, as Sarah learns, was once a famous horse-breeding establishment, but after Mrs. Compson's husband James and brother Richard were killed in WWI, it went downhill. Her father died, she gave birth to a premature baby, and when she discovered that her sister's Claudia's husband could have saved Richard and James (they were in the same unit), she quarreled with Claudia and left Elm Creek. Now, with the estate restored, Sarah cooks up a plan that will preserve it from developers, give Mrs. Compson a new life, and herself-at last-a real job. Nicely stitched together (and fun for quilters), but more slick trick than vibrant novel. ..
Sandra Dallas author of "The Persian Pickle Club" Jennifer Chiaverini's first novel is a heartwarming story of relationships that, like pieces of a quilt, can be connected with discord or with harmony. You'll discover friendship here, and you'll learn a thing or two about quilting, too.
Series: Elm Creek Quilts Novels (Paperback)
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: October 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Dimensions (cm): 21.1 x 13.7 x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.218