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The Union Quilters (Elm Creek Quilts) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 22, 2011

151 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her true-to-form latest, Chiaverini (The Aloha Quilt; etc.) goes back to the Civil War era as the men go off to fight and the women of Elm Creek Valley support the Union troops. While the women struggle with their own problems, updates from the front amplify tensions as the war comes closer to home, leading some to tragedy and others to heartbreaking revelations. Among the many developments, Dorothea sends husband Thomas off to war with her favorite quilt; Constance's husband, Abel, seeks a way to serve a Union that won't enlist him because he's black; Gerda pines for Jonathan, who brings his medical skills to the front; and Gerda's brother, Hans, refuses to fight because he is a pacifist. Chiaverini does a good job balancing the experiences of the women at home and the men on the front, though, oddly, the quilting is all but absent. There's enough exposition to welcome new readers without bogging down the tale, resulting in a reliably heartwarming and accessible story. (Feb.)
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"Jennifer Chiaverini's strength is not only writing strong female characters, but also placing them in interesting lives and times." — New York Journal of Books

"Fascinating . . . We seldom think beyond the battles and the generals, but the story of the home [front] is a compelling one. Although we might know how the big picture turned out, the individual stories presented here are rivetingly new." — Romantic Times

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Product Details

  • Series: Elm Creek Quilts
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; First Edition edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525952039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525952039
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By B. Decker on February 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished the long awaited, "The Union Quilters." It was worth the wait as far as I'm concerned. The Elm Creek Quilters novels that are set in the Civil War Era are among my favorites, and this one was not a disappointment for me. In "The Lost Quilter," the author let us know what the outcome of the war would be for several of her main characters, so I wasn't necessarily surprised or holding my breath. I'm not sure if I was glad I knew or not, but that doesn't really matter. I feel like I know a little more what life was really like for the ordinary family, especially the women that were taking care of things on the homefront, during that difficult time in our country's history. I highly recommend the book, especially to readers that have read her earlier Civil War/Slavery era novels.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on March 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Ms. Chiaverini's novels to date, including this one. And I'm amazed by how much her seemingly devoted fans chastise her whenever the writer strays from the original setting and the characters established in the first book. If the action takes place outside of central Pennsylvania, people complain. If the Elm Creek Quilters, as they were first introduced, do not appear in the newest episode, people complain. If there's "not enough quilting," people complain. And yet: if the author stuck to the pattern of the first couple of episodes and produced cookie-cutter plot lines every few years, I have no doubt that people would complain about that work, too.

Instead, we should be applauding Ms. Chiaverini for adding dimension to the series. She's giving backstories to the women of the Elm Creek Quilters -- ones that see action in other states, at other times. She's doing the same for the craft of quilting. Perhaps she's considering that readers who are quilters (or who at least appreciate their construction and beauty) might very well be interested in how those fabric designs came to be; how they were used in the past; and who the women were who assembled them. Some of the Elm Creek novels are set in contemporary times, and some are examples of historical fiction. Taken together, they all follow a common thread that transcends specific individuals and time periods, no matter what changes might come. In this respect, the cumulative Elm Creek Quilts story is a Fiction that mirrors Real Life. It is the act of quilting that ties it all together.

That brings us to "The Union Quilters," which is set in that special Pennsylvania valley in the 1860s. Of course, some surnames will be familiar to avid readers of the series.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1862 the men of Water's Ford, Pennsylvania join the Northern army leaving behind their loved ones. The women worry about the males but know the cause is just. They will do whatever they can to support the war and pray for the safe return of their beloved.

The Elm Creek Valley quilting bee members rally around one another. Constance Wright knows her husband Abel a freeman of color wants to free other slaves like he did when he bought her freedom though this time he will use his rifle even if the Union refuses to accept a black. Dorothea Nelson and Charlotte Granger worry about their educated spouses. A former schoolmaster Thomas Nelson takes with him his beloved Dorothea's Dove in the Window quilt. His brother-in-law Dr. Jonathan Granger leaves behind his pregnant wife Charlotte and their child. Gerda Bergstrom misses Jonathan who seems to have moved on from his first love while her brother Hans refuses to fight claiming he is a pacifist.

The latest Elm Creek drama (see The Aloha Quilt and A Quilter's Holiday) is a strong fresh entry that gives readers a profound look at mostly abolitionists either fighting as volunteer soldiers for the Union Army or at home in Pennsylvania seeking ways in addition to prayers to help their loved ones at war. Readers will appreciate this superb Civil War entry though ironically for an Elm Creek tale the stich count is at an all time low.

Harriet Klausner
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Debbie on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love Jennifer Chiaverini's historicals, and I was really looking forward to this. I was looking forward to seeing how the women of Elm Creek carried on while the menfolk were away. Unfortunately, that's not the book I got. Whole chapters of this were war scenes, and the story of the daily lives of the women left behind wasn't that compelling. I wanted some stories of the women carrying on in daily life despite adversity, and instead they're thriving, building Union Halls, quilting as if they are still women of leisure. It's a nice set up for the suffragette story that's sure to come along at some point.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mizsuzee on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt novels for years, and for the most part I've enjoyed them all....until I read "The Union Quilters". This book is set during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the author tries to incorporate some of the familiar characters from previous books into this one. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work. This book should never have been written as an Elm Creek Quilts novel. Since the author is obviously intensely interested in Civil War history, she should have, in my humble opinion, just written this book as a remembrance of the Civil War in Pennsylvania. The amount of detail in regards to the movement of various armies and all their leading officers is not only overwhelming, its just plain boring. I sure hope Ms Chiaverini is done writing about the Civil War. I think everybody is ready for her to get back to the winning combination of modern day, the escapades of the Elm Creek quilters, and the Elm Creek quilt camp.
Unless you are a SERIOUS CIVIL WAR buff and interested in Pennsylvania history, I'd definitely skip this book.

On another note, I can only say great things about the reader/narrator of ALL the audio Elm Creek Quilt novels, Christina Moore. She makes listening a pleasure! However, even her fantastic narration couldn't keep me interested in "The Union Quilters".
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