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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 21, 2012
What a Beautiful Cover!

In previous editions we were reminded that some of Sylvia Berstrom's relatives had migrated to California. Sonoma Rose starts with a little of that history, picking up where The Quilter's Homecoming, that was published in 2007 left off.

We meet Elizabeth Bergstrom Nelson's friend, Rosa Diaz as the country is coping with all the restrictions of Prohibition. Mother to eight children, Rosa mourns the loss of four who succumbed to the mysterious wasting disease currently afflicting young Ana and Miguel. Her abusive husband refuses to take them into the city so the children can see a doctor. His mind is clearly on other things, like his fancy car and keeping secrets about his business dealings from his wife. When an act of violence shatters Rosa's resolve to maintain her increasingly dangerous existence, she flees with the children and her precious heirloom quilts to the mesa where she last saw her beloved mother alive.

Dollycas's Thoughts
This is the Jennifer Chiaverini I love to read. I think she lost her way a little bit wrapping up the current characters in The Wedding Quilt. This story shines a brilliant light on her masterful storytelling talent.

This is Rosa's story. She is yet another strong female heroine created by Chiaverini that has you engaged from the moment we step back into her life. You will feel a wide range of emotions during her story, anger, fear, hope and joy. The bonds of friendship are as strong as all the other books in this series. The power of love from a mother's love for her children to the enduring love between a man and a woman are woven wondrously through these pages. This story was absolutely amazing. I couldn't put it down.

Jennifer Chiaverini has created some very memorable fiction characters and has allowed us to go along with them on the journeys not only in current time but into the past and into the future. I am really wondering what is next in this series. I have loved all of these characters and will miss them if this is where the journey ends. I sincerely hope she has some more Elm Creek Quilts stories in that big sewing basket of hers.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2012
Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini is fascinating novel set during Prohibition in the southern United States. I loved the retro cover. It reminded me of many classic novels that I enjoyed so many years ago, or finding an old dusty classic hidden at the back of a library's bookshelf. This novel weaves through time as it follows the trials Rosa and Lars face as they attempt to escape their past and avoid treachery in their new life. One immediately feels sympathy for poor Rose who is trapped in a loveless marriage with an embittered man who refuses to provide the necessary care for her ill children and regularly abuses her.

This is an epic story that weaves itself over several years and takes the reader into the heart of wine country during the era of Prohibition. The author gave us an in-depth look at the struggle of vineyard owners at a time when wine-making was severely and how they struggled to survive. Insight was also given as to how celiac disease was first diagnosed and treated.

The novel was easy to read. Its characters, both protagonist and antagonist, were well written and realistic. It is nice to learn about lesser known eras in unusual settings, and this novel certainly made that mark. Beautiful prose, rich descriptions, and an endearing story of courage and hope make this an awesome read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Sonoma Rose is a great book with a branding problem. Although labeled as an "Elm Creek Quilts Novel" it has next to nothing to do with that series. It also has only a few words about quilts in the entire book so I'm not suprised that some readers are disappointed.

The only connection to Elm Creek Quilts is in the friendship between Elizabeth Nelson and Rosa Barclay. Elizabeth is related to Sylvia Compton of the Elm Creek Quilts novels but she only appears in this book only briefly hence the branding confusion. If readers can accept that this book is NOT an Elm Creek Quilt novel nor is it about quilts then they can judge it on it's own merits.

That being said... I loved the book. It takes place during prohibition and gives a reader the other side of the story by sharing what happened to winemakers and their families when their very livelihood was pulled out from under them.

The main character, Rosa, is a good woman stuck in a bad situation. She is in love with one man but marries another and that never goes well. Rosa and her husband John have several children but they all become ill and die very young. John becomes abusive and gets involved in bootlegging and Rosa has no real choice but to leave him to try to save her remaining children. She reunites with the man she loves and they sacrifice everything to go on the run.

This book is really about what one person does to protect their children, their family and their way of life. I loved this book and hope that others give it a chance.
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48 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
This book has been the 3rd disappointment from the Elm Creek Quilts series. I no longer buy the books but sit on the waiting list at the local library. The story was not uplifting. It deals with abuse and darkness. Ms. Chiaverini seems to have drifted into a different genre. I don't expect to have a book that is supposed to be "An Elm Creek Quilters Novel" be a history lesson. Any quilting in the book was so secondary that it wasn't even worth putting in the book. She seems to dwell in dark areas and dark times. In this day and age I want to read something like her first novels, there were problems but not abuse and murder and rape. I don't care that she wants to write this type of book but, don't try to pass it off as one of the series. And by the way, if you don't agree with my review of the book, please write your own review. Do not send me snide comments about my opinion of the book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 1, 2012
Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts series once again travels to California and to the past: specifically, to the days of Prohibition in wine country. The thread to the contemporary Elm Creek mansion and its quilt camp follows one of Sylvia Bergstrom's relatives, Elizabeth Nelson, who befriends and encourages Rosa Barclay, the main character of this installment.

At its core, "Sonoma Rose" is a compelling piece of romantic historical fiction. It starts with Rosa firmly entrenched in one of those eternal triangles. She's torn between her life with abusive husband John Barclay, and the dream of what she could have had with Lars Jorgensen, the childhood friend she should have married. With children involved and with the deplorable state of women's rights in that era, her choice is none too easy. Too soon a chain of events leaves John under arrest, Rosa and her four children on the run, and Lars as an eager rescuer. The story could end right there with many a pleased reader, cheering.

But Rosa and Lars and their young charges have to get away. Their trek leads them to the northern wine-growing region, where they find themselves in the swirling, uncertain mists of well-meaning vintners, Mob-related bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. The family -- for of course by then, the six of them ARE one -- must overcome one difficulty after another. And just when you think they're safe and secure, something else happens to challenge their resolve. But don't give up on Rosa. She's a strong and intelligent woman, even under the most harrowing of circumstances.

Chiaverini is unafraid of exploring some tough topics: domestic violence, alcoholism, suffrage and women's rights, and the concept of what's right and what's wrong/illegal, based on individual perspective. With this book, she sheds light on a time and place that's not often profiled in mainstream literature. It's an eye opener..

One reviewer errs here when she says that by the book's conclusion, Rose and Lars "hadn't really started their new life together." On the contrary. They'd already been together for years. And the author tidies up other loose ends rather nicely -- although maybe a bit too quickly in the last 20 pages for some readers to accept. Still, this is another wonderful read from a talented writer. It's the perfect occupation to indulge in, on a snowy, house-bound day in early March. It'll probably take you several days to go from one cover to the other, however. This is truly a story to savor and prolong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I've read all the Elm Creek Quilt books, in order. That being said, it isn't necessary to do that when reading this book. I'm not actually sure why this one is tagged as an Elm Creek Quilts novel at all. Except for a slight relation to one of the other characters, which wasn't even presented as important, this book was so far from an Elm Creek Quilts novel to be considered one at all.

Rose (aka Rosa) has always been in love with Lars. But because of his drinking and other issues that arise with their relationship, she ended up married to John instead. John is an abuser, and father to six of her eight children (and not all those children alive) and so he lashes out in his anger at her betrayal as well. When he becomes too dangerous, Rosa and her remaining four children run away with Lars. This is partly to save her, but also to try to help her children that have a mysterious sickness get better. They end up in wine country, and learn just how Prohibition is destroying the grape farmers there and become a part of more than they would have bargained for.

I just didn't really like Rosa. She was a victim of abuse, and I feel for her on that aspect, as noone should ever be abused, but I also didn't like the way that she treated people. She was unfair to her husband even before he became an abuser and while he was a horrible man for being an abuser, one wrong does not deserve another. Lars was also kind of lackluster for me, he didn't seem to care about too much and rather let his whims carry him for most of his life. The kids were all kind of secondary, you never really got a big feel for their personalities other than a few of them were sick and Rosa worried about them dying. There just wasn't anyone to connect to in this novel.

I thought the Prohibition theme was interesting but the way Chiaverini wrote it was long and drawn out. It actually took up the biggest part of the book aside from Rosa's love triangle. And there was barely any mention of quilts at all, which since this is an Elm Creek Quilts novel, is inexcusable. It's fine to write a book like this, but don't market it under that brand if that's not what it's about. I also found Rosa and Lars escape very unrealistic. Everything was just kind of handed to them and it was so easy for them to get what they wanted. Not to mention everything gets tied up neatly with a little bow at the end; things rarely work out that way in real life. She was so gritty and realistic in her descriptions of abuse and rape, that it really surprised me she would fall out of reality for everything else.

A disappointment for me. I wish it had been a stand alone book rather than marketed as an Elm Creek Quilt novel so I could have stayed away from it. I couldn't have even given it good marks then though due to the choppy fast pace and unrealistic happenings of the main characters.

Sonoma Rose
Copyright 2012
401 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2012
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2012
Definitely different from the other Elm Creek Quilt novels in the series. This book takes place during Prohibition and is about the wine industry in northern California. Filled with love, hate, abuse and suspense. A very good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2012
The author did it again. She held my interest so that I didn't want to put the book down. A little historical interest, intrigue, quilt stories, mystery and love made an exciting blend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2012
i had no idea this book was part of a series when i got it. but i still don't think it would change my opinion that much. i read a lot of great reviews on it (mostly here) so i thought i'd enjoy the story. i was BORED out of my mind through the whole thing. it kept my attention enough to keep at it up to the point where rose and the others arrive in san francisco, but even when things were happening in that book, they weren't really. it was all too tame. no, i'm not referring to john's brutality or the prohibition officer's bullying. just the way it unfolded - i felt like the author was writing a script for a movie that was going to be on the Lifetime channel or something. i kept reading it to the end as i do with all books whether i like them or not. one reason is because you never know what might happen at the very end to turn it around - and also, it would just bother me to leave a book unfinished that i started. but this was a big snooze for me and i'm glad it's over.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
Once again, the creative Ms. Chiaverini has produced a wonderfully entertaining book with character depth and historic accuracy that makes for an informative and compelling read. I had never thought much about issues of life with the mob, prohibition, and such. I checked out some of her facts and they are well substantiated histroically. She weaves a story with love, passion, fear, and surprise.

As Ms. Chiaverini matures into an accomplished author, her stories gain complexity and depth in new areas. She has pushed me to reflect on historical times and situations that would never have come to mind otherwise. She handles the unpleasant but real issues of abuse, crime and secrets incredibly well.

The title does not contain the word "quilt" and indeed there is not much about quilts in the book. However, the story was wonderful anyway. Thanks!
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