From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln'’s Dressmaker and the Elm Creek Quilts series comes a moving novel following a daughter’s search for her mother’s treasured heirlooms.
When precious heirloom quilts hand-stitched by her mother turn up missing from the attic of Elm Creek Manor, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson resolves to find them. From scant resources—journal entries, receipts, and her own fading memories—she pieces together clues, then queries quilting friends from around the world. When dozens of leads arrive via the Internet, Sylvia and her fiancé embark on a nationwide investigation of antique shops and quilt museums.
Sylvia’s quest leads her to unexpected places, where offers of assistance are not always what they seem. As the search continues, revelations surface about her mother, who died when Sylvia was only a child. As Sylvia recovers some of the missing quilts and accepts others as lost forever, she reflects on the woman her mother was, and mourns the woman she never knew. For every woman who has yearned to know the untold story of her mother’s life, and for every mother who has longed to be heard, The Quilter’s Legacy resonates with heartfelt honesty as it reveals what tenuous connections bind the generations, and celebrates the love that sustains them.
Chiaverini's fifth and best Elm Creek Quilts novel again stitches together a patchwork of American life. This time she focuses on Elm Creek Quilts founder Sylvia Bergstrom Compson and her search for five quilts made by her mother, Eleanor, who died when Sylvia was 10. Sylvia and Eleanor's stories alternate, as Sylvia, an elderly widow now recovered from a stroke, prepares to marry her friend Andrew despite his children's opposition, while at the turn of the century, Eleanor, daughter of an affluent New York family, defies her mother by attending a suffragette meeting and quilting with her beloved nanny, Amelia Langley. When Eleanor's sister, Abigail, elopes with her father's business rival, Eleanor also runs away rather than be forced to marry Abigail's jilted fianc . On her way out the door, Eleanor is offered a ride by Fred Bergstrom, which becomes the beginning of a long life together on his Pennsylvania horse farm at Elm Creek. The novel's high point is the poignantly detailed description of the flu epidemic of 1918. Less historical but equally touching is Eleanor's aging mother's arrival at the horse farm. Chiaverini's storytelling skills have noticeably improved. She approaches but never succumbs to sentimentality and keeps her account of hunts for antique quilts from becoming too predictable. She remains a keener observer of subtleties in quilts than in people, and more adept at capturing friendship than romance, but her gift for visual imagery (Abigail going down with the Titanic; Eleanor's quilts recast as wearable art) and gentle humor (a museum exhibit's explanation of one quilt's origins) blend seamlessly into prose that, like the needlework she portrays, proves intricate, lovely, comforting and uniquely American. a strong seller.