Jennifer Chiaverini’s bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series starts with The Quilter’s Apprentice, a timeless tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness as two women weave the disparate pieces of their lives into a bountiful and harmonious whole, and begin the legacy of the Elm Street Quilters.
When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to Waterford, Pennsylvania, she hopes to make a fresh start in the small college town. Unable to find a job both practical and fulfilling, she takes a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping its reclusive owner Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale and after the death of her estranged sister. Sylvia is also a master quilter and, as part of Sarah’s compensation, offers to share the secrets of her creative gifts with the younger woman.
During their lessons, the intricate, varied threads of Sylvia’s life begin to emerge. It is the story of a young wife living through the hardships and agonies of the World War II home front; of a family torn apart by jealousy and betrayal; of misunderstanding, loss, and a tragedy that can never be undone. As the bond between them deepens, Sarah resolves to help Sylvia free herself from remembered sorrows and restore her life—and her home—to its former glory. In the process, she confronts painful truths about her own family, even as she creates new dreams for the future.
Just as the darker sections of a quilt can enhance the brighter ones, the mistakes of the past can strengthen understanding and lead the way to new beginnings. A powerful debut by a gifted storyteller, The Quilter’s Apprentice tells a timeless tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness as two women weave the disparate pieces of their lives into a bountiful and harmonious whole.
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. Author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This is a delightful women’s novel!
There is a large cast of very well developed characters. I loved meeting Sarah, Matt, and Sylvia. They are the main characters that are central and the rest of the cast fills in around them. I found it very interesting to see how they met and their friendship developed over the course of the story.
Sylvia is a master quilter and it was fascinating for me to read all the details about how a quilt is made. The descriptions of the different quilt blocks captivated me. I have never tried quilting but I love looking at quilts.
The Quilter's Apprentice
This was a book I hoped would not end. Very good.