Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Published: 2000
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 304

From the author’s
website:

ROUND ROBIN reunites readers with the Elm Creek Quilters in this poignant and heartwarming follow-up to The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini's acclaimed debut novel. The Elm Creek Quilters have begun a round robin, a quilt created by sewing concentric patchwork to a central block as it is passed around a circle of friends. Led by Sarah McClure, who came to Waterford, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Matt, a few years ago, the project is to be their gift to their beloved fellow quilter Sylvia Compson. But like the most delicate cross-stitch, their lives are held together by the most tenuous threads of happiness ... and they can unravel.As each woman confronts a personal crisis, a painful truth, or a life-changing choice, the quilt serves as a symbol of the complex and enduring bonds between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. In weaving together the harmonious, disparate pieces of their crazy-quilt lives, the Elm Creek Quilters come to realize that friendship is one of the most precious gifts we can give each other, and that love can strengthen understanding, lead to new beginnings, and illuminate our lives.

This is the sequel to The Quilter’s Apprentice, which I read last year. It continues the stories of the group of quilters introduced in that book two years later. Their business venture at Elm Creek Manor has been established and become a destination quilting school with a new group of quilt campers arriving every week. The Elm Creek Quilters teach the workshops and manage the business as well as their own complicated lives. The book is named for the Round Robin quilt that the group members are making as a surprise for Sylvia Compson who grew up at Elm Creek Manor and is a master quilter and mentor for the group. As the quilt is passed to each of the women to add the next border to the quilt her story becomes the focus for that section of the book. This is a book about women’s friendships, relationships, and challenges. The women’s stories intertwine and involve both the past and present with the quilt becoming a symbol of their lives and friendships.

This is a nice series for when I need a break and a book that’s slower paced and gentle. I have several friends who are quilters, so I enjoy learning about the quilting patterns and seeing the pictures on the author’s website of the quilts she describes in her books. It’s a bit predictable, and a few of the characters are less than sympathetic. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of this type of book, but it’s nice to have in the mix on a regular basis.

15 comments:

Joy 8/30/2007 6:29 AM  

I'm interested in finding out what this series is like, not overwhelmingly so, but interested nonetheless. :) I did some quilting, once upon a time, so I may like it. ??? It's worth a try.

I see you are reading another Susan Wittig Albert book! Like the above, I'm mildly interested. I think I'll give the first one of this series a try too. :)

SuziQoregon 8/30/2007 7:33 AM  

Hmmm - Joy - it's a tough call - My inclination is that you wouldn't like either series (not enough substance for your tastes), but I've been wrong before. If you do decide to try the Chiaverini series, I found that the author's website gallery page with pictures of the quilts is helpful since there's no pictures in the books of the quilts described

Les 8/30/2007 3:23 PM  

I read the first in the series and enjoyed it ok, but not enough to run out and get the next as they were published. I didn't care for the insecurity in the main character, but toward the end of the first book she seemed to gain a little more self-confidence. I did find myself wanting to learn how to quilt, but that would interfere with my limited reading time!

SuziQoregon 8/30/2007 3:27 PM  

Les: hee hee - she's still insecure ;-)

auntie-c 8/30/2007 7:48 PM  

I read the series (checked out from the library) to see what quilting they were doing.

Yep, I'm one of the quilting friends of SuziQ.

The characters are not as compelling as the quilts, but the books are a good break from a heavy diet of murder, mayhem and mysteries. :-)

SwimmyMom 8/30/2007 8:01 PM  

I flipped through one of these books and it kind of intimidated me because it was so thick. I'm glad to know you enjoy them (even if only occasionally). :)

--Bookfool

SuziQoregon 8/30/2007 8:16 PM  

~C: I love looking up the quilts she describes. These books would be perfect for a do nothing winter weekend where I don't want to think or engage my brain - sitting in front of the fireplace all wrapped up in the quilt you made for me.

Bookfool: I almost didn't recognize you in your disguise. ~C's description is perfect -they're more about the quilts than some of the characters for me and one of my 'my brain needs a break' series.

jenclair 8/31/2007 2:47 PM  

I am a quilter and looked forward to the Chiaverini series, but found it less than satisfying. I like the Susan Wittig Albert books much better; they are also light, but I love all the herbal stuff.

Vickie 8/31/2007 5:33 PM  

Suzi: I am like you in that Chiaverini is a nice break when I need one from mystery reads and especially when they are the intense ones. I am listening to 'Sugar Camp Quilt' now.
I also dig Susan Wittig Albert. I like the storyline of her books as well as the herbal lore I learn from reading her. Grittier than a typical 'cozy'.

SuziQoregon 8/31/2007 7:08 PM  

Jen: I enjoy the China Bayles series too. I like the characters, but don't really care that much about the herbal stuff.

Vickie: That's exactly why I read them ;-)

Tristi Pinkston 9/02/2007 11:13 AM  

I don't quilt at all, yet still find these books very enjoyable. You don't have to be a quilter to find a lot of good in them.

SuziQoregon 9/02/2007 6:41 PM  

Tristi: I agree - I don't quilt, but love learning about them

Framed 9/02/2007 7:24 PM  

This may a series I could look into for Joy's new challenge. Darn, I'm trying to talk myself out of that challenge. I don't have the patience to quilt so I'd much rather read about quilters.

Jeane 9/04/2007 12:23 PM  

Are there pictures of quilts in the book? I love looking at quilts, though I've never made one. I might read this book just to learn more about what it involves for people (always easier for me to deduce from a story than a how-to book).

SuziQoregon 9/04/2007 12:26 PM  

Framed: people either seem to think they're "ok as a brain break" or they don't like them. Not too many 'love this series' folks out there.

Jeanne: Unfortunately the publisher does not include pictures of the quilts in the books - the author's website (link in my post) has photos of many of them, though.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

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