The Union Quilters

Jennifer Chiaverini, Dutton, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-95203-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
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