Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Dutton Adult
From the publisher:
In 1862, the men of Water's Ford, Pennsylvania, rally to President Lincoln's call while Dorothea Granger marshals her friends to "wield their needles for the Union." Meanwhile, Anneke Bergstrom hides the shame she feels for her husband's pacifism; gifted writer Gerda Bergstrom takes on local Southern sympathizers in the pages of the Water's Ford Register; and Constance Wright struggles to help her husband gain entry to the Union Army-despite the color of his skin. As the women work, hope, and pray, the men they love confront loneliness, boredom, and danger on the battlefield. But the women of the sewing circle also forge a new independence that will forever alter the patchwork of life in the Elm Creek Valley.
My thoughts: Finally finished! A good portion of this book is as dry as dust. Reads like a recitation on the civil war; too much "tell me" with not enough "show me" especially with the characters. I really only found a few paragraphs where I could tell what the character was truly feeling.
"But she could not overcome the dull lethargy that had settled upon her in the wake of --'s death. (avoiding a spoiler) She could not bear to hear again how her husband was a hero, that the had died for a noble cause, and that her own sacrifice had ennobled her as his black-clad widow. He had died a hero's death, and for that reason her loss was a public one; it belonged to the town, to the nation. Other women might have found strength and solace in that, but she did not want to share her private grief with anyone. She wanted to be left alone to mourn."
That's still a lot of "tell me" writing but it's the best it gets.
Granted, it's interesting that the women who were left behind managed to do so much to raise money with their quilting for the troops and still managed to run the family farm or business. Their courage was immense but what choice did they have? Although, I did wonder at how true it was that they could get the supplies necessary to make so many quilts during wartime.
The most emotion this book brought out in me was the feeling of sadness at the deprivations of supplies felt most by the soldiers, the deplorable prison conditions and the waste of so many lives. Of course, any war documentary would make me feel this same way. I just wish the whole story had been written with a little more fictional feeling and with deeper looks into each character and not quite as dryly.
I've read one other book in this Elm Creek Quilts series and enjoyed it a lot, so unfortunately this was a little disapointing for me. Fans of Civil War fiction in no-nonsense fact style might very well appreciate it more than I did. 2.5 **
For more info about Ms. Chiaverini and her books, please visit her website.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by SA/Plume in exchange for my honest opinion.