Readers of The Quilter’s Apprentice and Round Robin have been enchanted by Elm Creek Quilt Camp, where women gather each year for quilting, friendship, and fun. The third in the Elm Creek Quilts series introduces the Cross-Country Quilters, a group of far-flung friends who pledge to complete a “challenge quilt”—symbolic of each woman’s personal goals—in one year’s time.
These five women arrive at Elm Creek Manor hoping to find in their quilt lessons an escape from the problems they left at home. Julia, an aging starlet, has pinned her hopes to a plum role in a historical epic whose director is under the mistaken impression that Julia already knows how to quilt. Megan is a successful engineer who has won prizes for her miniature quilt designs. The one challenge she has yet to master is single motherhood. Donna, a mother of two, must hasten to teach her daughter independence and self-esteem—lessons she, too, must take to heart. Grace is a renowned curator of antique quilts, whose creative flair is waning for reasons she is unwilling to reveal—even to her closest friends. Vinnie, the senior member of the group, is a sunny soul with a tragic past. Her overwhelming desire is to bring happiness into the lives of those she loves.
Although the Cross-Country Quilters share a common creative goal, as the year goes by their bonds are tested by the demands of daily life. But despite differences in age, race, and background, the friends' love for quilting and affection for one another unite them in a patchwork of caring and acceptance. The quilt they make reminds them of an everlasting truth—friends may be separated by great distance, yet the strength of their bond can transcend any obstacle.
The third installment in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series (The Quilter's Apprentice; Round Robin) once again features an ensemble cast of women who learn the importance of friendship and sisterhood by way of their passion for quilting. This time, five women from across the country meet during a weeklong visit to Elm Creek quilting camp in rural Waterford, Pa. Craft and crises intertwine as each woman reveals her private tale of family conflict, marital woes and health concerns. Julia Merchaud is an aging soap star, at camp to acquire quilting skills she falsely claimed to possess in order to secure a film role, while renowned quilter Grace Daniels, recently diagnosed with MS, suffers quilter's block and comes to Elm Creek hoping for inspiration. Megan and Donna are e-mail buddies, both from the Midwest, meeting in person for the first time. Megan, an aerospace engineer, is a recently divorced single mom with a friendless and troubled nine-year-old son, while Donna is escaping her daughter's sudden engagement and the attendant social chores. Rounding out the bunch is happy-go-lucky octogenarian Nana, an Elm Creek veteran intent on making a match for her single grandson, Adam. After a week of bonding and binding, the five women agree to collaborate on a Challenge Quilt, in which each participant must overcome a major obstacle in her life before beginning her section of the project. When they return the following year, each problem has been resolved with ample amounts of sugar and sentiment. Endearing characters and pleasant vignettes render this series as charming and cozy as a favorite blanket.