Book Review of
The Union Quilters
With The Union Quilters, Chiaverini delivers a powerful story of a remarkable group of women coping with changing roles and the extraordinary experiences of the Civil War.
In 1862 Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania, abolitionism is prevalent, even passionate, so the local men rally to answer Mr. Lincoln’s call to arms. Thus the women of Elm Creek Valley’s quilting bee are propelled into the unknown. Constance Wright, married to Abel, a skilled sharpshooter courageous enough to have ventured south to buy his wife’s freedom from a Virginia plantation, knows well her husband’s certainty that all people, enslaved and free, North and South, need colored men like him to fight for a greater purpose. Sisters-in-law Dorothea Nelson and Charlotte Granger wish safe passage for their learned husbands. Schoolmaster turned farmer Thomas carries Dorothea’s Dove in the Window quilt with him. Charlotte’s husband, Dr. Jonathan Granger, takes more than a doctor’s bag to his post at a field hospital. Alongside the devotion of his wife, pregnant with their second child, Jonathan brings the promise he made to his unrequited love, Gerda Bergstrom: “My first letter will be to you.”
Together with the other members of the circle, the women support one another through loneliness and fear, and devise an ingenious business plan to keep Water’s Ford functioning. That plan may forever alter the patchwork of town life in ways that transcend even the ultimate sacrifices of war.
Overall, I really liked this book. I have read several books by Jennifer Chiavernini, including Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. I like her writing style but have mixed feelings about her books. I think she sometimes takes liberty with history. There were times when I was reading this book, and her other books, that I wondered if this would have or could have really happened during the that time frame. But overall I really liked the story and writing of this book. It is part of the Elk Creek Quilts series, but because it is about the Civil War and people during the Civil War, it is a stand alone book. You don’t have to have read the Elk Creek Series to enjoy The Union Quilters.