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The Quilter's Apprentice: A Novel (The Elm Creek Quilts Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Length: 276 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, have just moved to Waterford, PA. While Matt finds work with a landscape company, Sarah, an accountant, wants to try something new. With no leads and no offers, she is depressed and frustrated. When elderly Sylvia Compson asks Sarah to help prepare her family estate for sale, Sarah finds new friends, and Sylvia, a master craftswoman, agrees to teach Sarah how to quilt. Sarah's new relationship inspires an exchange of confidences; she learns about Sylvia's "family skeletons" while facing her own difficult relationship with her mother. Patiently piecing scraps of material, the quilters explore both women's lives, stitching details and solutions together slowly but with courage and strength. Chiaverini, a quilter herself, has pieced together a beautiful story in this first novel. Sarah and Matt are a charming couple who prove that problems really do have solutions. Women?daughters, sisters, and mothers?will enjoy it. Recommended.?Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3771 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VGG37Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,722 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of MRS. LINCOLN'S DRESSMAKER, MRS. LINCOLN'S RIVAL, THE SPYMISTRESS, MRS. GRANT AND MADAME JULE, and other acclaimed historical novels. She also wrote the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, "In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
The first in the "Elm Creek Quilters" series, "The Quilter's Apprentice" is a sweet story about a naive young woman, Sarah, who relocates to a small Pennsylvanian town when her landscape architect husband gets a new job. As Matt works to restore the gardens and grounds at Elm Creek, a dilapidated old mansion, Sarah, struggling to find a job in her field, finds herself instead as paid helper to the mansion's acerbic owner, Mrs. Compson.
At first thorny and uncomfortable, the relationship between Mrs. Compson and Sarah slowly unfolds as the two women create a quilt--Sarah's first. The metaphor of the quilt's patches creating a whole, just as Mrs. Compson's snippets of stories create a picture of her life, is nothing new, and perhaps a bit awkwardly handled in this first novel. It is noticeable in dialogue that nobody in real life would speak--and of the coincidences that probably would never occur.
Nevertheless, this book is a keeper, and I look forward to the next in the series. I personally love quilts, although I have never quilted. I found the slow creation of the story's (and Sarah's) quilt fascinating, easy to read, and just simply charming.
This is not a fast-paced book, and it is not a work of literary genuis. It is simply a sweet, old-fashioned story, and--I am happy to say--it works.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Judi Kirby on February 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I quilt. I own a quilt shop. I also teach high school English. So my standards for what makes a good read are pretty high. Just because it's about quilting doesn't make it good. This story is really good. The characters are real, I have them as quilting friends, and as customers. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. A good plot with nicely written flashbacks. Written by someone who really know quilting, women and friendships.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini is the first book in the Elm Creek Quilt series. Although I have never quilted and doubt I ever will, I found the suggestion to read this book a good one. In the tradition of Whitney Otto's book, How to Make an American Quilt and Sandra Dallas' book, The Persian Pickle Club, Jennifer Chiaverini combines a love and knowledge and quilting with the story of two memorable characters. Best part about this book is that there are several more in the series which I now look forward to reading.
Sarah McClure moves to a small town in Pennsylvania when her husband takes a new job. With no friends and no job, she agonizes over leaving her former life in a college town. While interviewing for jobs, she is offered a job helping an older woman cleaning and sorting through her now decased sisters home. When Sarah remarks about the beautiful quilts in the home, Sylvia Compson, who grew up in this home, offers to teach Sarah how to quilt. What happens as Sarah learns to quilt, makes friends with other quilters in the area and learns the story and history of Elm Creek ensues is a wonderful book in which the reader is captivated by these wonderful characters and the art of quilting.
Jennifer Chiaverini has a real gift in explaining quilting to those who know very little as well as presenting a most intriguing story. And as I continue to read this series, I might very well consider trying to become a quilter's apprentice. Only wish I could find somebody like Sylvia Compson to teach me how to quilt.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Florence Cardinal, Canadian Culture, BellaOnline on November 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Quilter's Apprentice takes you on a trip through Waterford, Pennsylvania and through the lives of a delightful group of ladies. Sarah McClure starts out feeling like an outsider but soon becomes an integral part of the town and it's people.
As the book progresses, we learn a bit of the history of the dowager, Mrs. Compson. The author takes each of the ladies and stitches them into the story just like the ladies take the brightly colored scraps of material and sticth them into lovely quilts.
Although I don't know how to quilt, as I read, I could almost feel the soft material benath my fingertips and see the small neat stitches that joined each square. I could hear the laughter of the Tangled Web quilters and smell Sarah's brownies baking. This is a book that brought a smile -- and a tear. I'll keep it on my shelf to read again when winter comes and I need a bit of added warmth in my life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bridgette A. Cohen on June 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Quilter's Apprentice was one of the best books I've had the pleasure to sit back and read in ages! My mother also read it and has written down the names of all the quilts mentioned in the book, checking to be sure that she has the pattern for each block! The way that Ms. Chiaverini pulls the past into the present is so interesting. She compels the reader to want to read and learn more about every character in the book. My Mom and I can't wait to read the sequel, Round Robin!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Lassak on August 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jennifer Chiaverini has a knack for pulling you into the story and making you lose your sense of the present. Her characters become very real and I found myself actually gasping out loud when a dramatic event occured. I wish the pattern was included with the book for the spotlight quilt. She is an excellent writer and offers an escape everytime you pick up the book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By brooke on October 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Read this book is all I need to say. But, I could add, this is one of the best books in the world, and that's all I would really need to say to describe this book! Chiaverinni couldn't have told a story better than she told this one...every page held me with suspense, and when I reached the last one, my heart sank knowing that this book would be set down for good unless I read it again. Anyways, Sarah McClure is just a few years passed the newly wed stage when she and her husband Matt move to Waterford, Pennsylvania. Well, Sarah is frusterated because she can't find a job, but her husband has gotten one that pieces the story together. Matt has been restoring a mansion called Elm Creek Manor, and Sarah descides to visit the place with him. She finds the old Mrs. Compson, the owner, a crochety and lonely old woman, and descides to help her clean out the many rooms of the mansion so the old woman can sell it. Well, part of the payment goes with the tallented Mrs. Compson teaching Sarah how to quilt. Then, the story unfolds! Sarah and the book reader learn all about Mrs. Compson's tragic past of herself, her family, and of the mysterious Elm Creek Manor. This book was really wonderful, and made my heart glow at how sweet it was. READ!
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