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Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Runaway Quilt...Review

About the book:
In her first novel, The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini wove quilting lore with tales from the World War II home front. Now, following Round Robin and The Cross-Country Quilters, Chiaverini revisits the legends of Elm Creek Manor, as Sylvia Compson discovers evidence of her ancestors' courageous involvement in the Underground Railroad.

Alerted to the possibility that her family had ties to the slaveholding South, Sylvia scours her attic and finds three quilts and a memoir written by Gerda, the spinster sister of clan patriarch Hans Bergstrom. The memoir describes the founding of Elm Creek Manor and how, using quilts as markers, Hans, his wife, Anneke, and Gerda came to beckon fugitive slaves to safety within its walls. When a runaway named Joanna arrives from a South Carolina plantation pregnant with her master's child, the Bergstroms shelter her through a long, dangerous winter — imagining neither the impact of her presence nor the betrayal that awaits them.

The memoir raises new questions for every one it answers, leading Sylvia ever deeper into the tangle of the Bergstrom legacy. Aided by the Elm Creek Quilters, as well as by descendants of others named in Gerda's tale, Sylvia dares to face the demons of her family's past and at the same time reaffirm her own moral center. A spellbinding fugue on the mysteries of heritage,
The Runaway Quilt unfolds with all the drama and suspense of a classic in the making.

Like all the other Elm Quilt books, I enjoyed this one too. I didn't like it as much as the others I've read though. It was a bit of a slower read, but the history of how quilts were used during the Underground Railroad is fascinating. I have read other books that talk about the use of quilts during the Underground Railroad, and while there is a lot of discussion as to whether or not this is true, the author is very clear that this book is her interpretation of how quilts could have been used to assist runaway slaves. It's very believable.

I liked the aspect of how Sylvia reads her ancestor's journal to find out what happened in her family. The way the journal is intercut with Sylvia's daily life is interesting. A good read.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow!

Read 12/07


  1. Hi Holly. Karlene Browning is doing a winter reading challenge at her blog www.inksplasher.blogspot.com.

    It should be fun. You should take a look and maybe join in. I think there are prizes.

    Have a Merry Christmas!!

  2. Okay Holly. I finished this book over the weekend, and so far is was my favorite of all the Elm Creek novels. I couldn't put it down! The history regarding the Civil War, quilts as signals, and the characters involvement was superb! I loved it.

    Thanks for introducing me to these novels. I love them. I am on The Quilters Legacy right now.