From Publishers Weekly
Chiaverini's latest Elm Creek Quilts installment suffers at the hands of its lackluster hero and heroine. Newlyweds Elizabeth and Henry leave Elizabeth's sprawling Pennsylvania family farm in 1925 to work a Southern California ranch Henry has bought sight unseen. As they ride the train out west, Chiaverini fills in the backstory of the Rodriguez family, the ranch's original owners, who lost the land in the 1880s. When the couple arrive in the picturesque valley, they discover they have been swindled into the poorhouse by an unscrupulous land broker who sold them a fake deed. Determined not to crawl back to their families, Henry works as a hired hand, while Elizabeth cooks for the Jorgenson family, the ranch's true owners. Dispirited and resentful, Henry rejects Elizabeth's encouragement and support, and Elizabeth must decide if the marriage is worth fighting for. On the page, the relationship between Henry and Elizabeth teeters between dull and nonexistent—which hinders the story of a young couple striving to make their marriage work. (Apr.)
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In the tenth entry in her popular series, Chiaverini branches off from a flashback in he Christmas Quilt
(2005) to take up the early adulthood of Sylvia Bergstrom Compson's beloved older cousin Elizabeth. Despite four-year-old Sylvia's efforts to keep her from leaving, Elizabeth Bergstrom marries neighbor Henry Nelson at Elm Creek Manor in Pennsylvania in 1925 and moves to southern California, where Henry has bought a cattle ranch. Predictably, plans go awry when the newlyweds find that Henry has been bilked; just as predictably, Elizabeth copes, as Bergstrom women do, even being charitable to those in greater need. The Nelsons' tale is intertwined with that of three generations of the Diaz family, original owners of the Arboles Valley land Henry thought he had bought, and in both families quilts prove to be the tangible expressions of their makers' emotions. Chiaverini's calm narrative blunts even tragedy as the death count reaches double figures, virtue is rewarded, and Bergstrom family ethics and the value of the craft of quilting are perpetuated. A reliably pleasant addition to the series, this should please its fans. Michele LeberCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved