The New York Times bestselling author of the Elm Creek Quilts series joins the Dutton list with a Civil War-era tale of love and sacrifice behind Union lines.
With The Union Quilters, Chiaverini delivers a powerful story of a remarkable group of women coping with changing roles and the extraordinary experiences of the Civil War.
In 1862 Water's Ford, Pennsylvania, abolitionism is prevalent, even passionate, so the local men rally to answer Mr. Lincoln's call to arms. Thus the women of Elm Creek Valley's quilting bee are propelled into the unknown. Constance Wright, married to Abel, a skilled sharpshooter courageous enough to have ventured south to buy his wife's freedom from a Virginia plantation, knows well her husband's certainty that all people, enslaved and free, North and South, need colored men like him to fight for a greater purpose. Sisters-in-law Dorothea Nelson and Charlotte Granger wish safe passage for their learned husbands. Schoolmaster turned farmer Thomas carries Dorothea's Dove in the Window quilt with him. Charlotte's husband, Dr. Jonathan Granger, takes more than a doctor's bag to his post at a field hospital. Alongside the devotion of his wife, pregnant with their second child, Jonathan brings the promise he made to his unrequited love, Gerda Bergstrom: "My first letter will be to you."
Together with the other members of the circle, the women support one another through loneliness and fear, and devise an ingenious business plan to keep Water's Ford functioning. That plan may forever alter the patchwork of town life in ways that transcend even the ultimate sacrifices of war.
This is the latest installment in the Elm Creek Quilt series. I was so happy to be reunited with some old friends, Gerda, Hans, Jonathan, Dorothea, and many others, as I jumped into the book. I have never been one who enjoys history but I must say that this novel kept me interested and I think it's all because we now live outside of Richmond, Virginia and many of the places mentioned in the book are places with which I am now familiar. The Union Quilters is a story of determination, perseverance, and love.
If you haven't read all of the series yet, make sure you read "The Sugar Camp Quilt" before this one. I can't wait until November when "The Wedding Quilt" is released.