The Giving Quilt is part of the Elm Creek Quilts series of books. One of the greatest joys when reading a book in a series is that you, as a reader, get to visit again with characters you’ve come to know and care about. In this case the continuing characters are the instructors and workers at Elm Creek. The stories never get stale because ever book there’s a new group of people who have arrived to take class or teach a class. Each of these new characters bring with them their own set of problems and concerns — the plots and story lines flow naturally from the events or lives of participants before they arrived at the seminar and their interactions at Elm Creek.
In The Giving Quilt, the theme is Thanksgiving and all of the emotional turmoil that can arise when family, jobs, or life situation isn’t what you want it to be but you feel that you have no control over what is going on. The women that come to Elm Creek all want to make a difference for others. They are all giving of their time, energy, and quilting stashes to make quilts for others. But they also have lives outside of this event and like all our lives they have problems they are dealing with and in one degree or another are feeling stretched and bereft of hope for the holiday season.
Each of them have a problem or problems that we’ve all at one time or another dealt with and can relate to as we’re reading. Chiaverini’s writing pulls you into the story and while reading you feel more like an invisible member of the group listening in on the lives of these women. There’s joys, sadness, loss, growth, and friendships forged between these women who happen to meet and share a passion for quilts.
I don’t want to give details because that would take away from your chance to meet these women and become part of their group while learning about their lives before they arrived for the session and following them as they return to their homes and the lives they put aside to attend this event..
Good strong character development coupled with writing with heart and interesting story lines keep me coming back to the quilters of Elm Creek. I hope you also find that when you close the covers after the last page, that you’re ready to face the ups and downs of your own life with a lighter heart knowing that other people also have problems and somehow manage to move forward, solve the puzzle, deal with the job, or whatever. Never preachy just solid stories that don’t sugar coat the problems or solutions but somehow leave the reader with renewed hope and a less jaundiced view of life and the world we inhabit.