Book Review: The Quilters Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

the quilters apprentice #elmcreekWhen Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to the small town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, to get a fresh start, Sarah struggles to find a fulfilling job. Disheartened by failed interviews, she reluctantly accepts a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale after the recent death of Sylvia’s estranged sister. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this reclusive, cantankerous master quilter.

During their lessons, Mrs. Compson slowly opens up to Sarah, sharing powerful, devastating stories of her life as a young woman on the World War II home front. Hearing tales of how Mrs. Compson’s family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, Sarah is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about her own family — truths that she has denied for far too long. As the friendship between the two women deepens, Mrs. Compson confides that although she would love to remain at her beloved family estate, Elm Creek Manor exists as a constant, unbearable reminder of her role in her family’s misfortune. For Sarah, there can be no greater reward than teaching Mrs. Compson to forgive herself for her past mistakes, restoring life and joy to her cherished home.

Given to me as a late Christmas present, this is the first of the “Elm Creek” series.

Slowly but surely it tells the story of the recently married Sarah, who has moved to near Elm Creek with her husband and whilst looking for a new job, helps the owner of Elm Creek to clear the place to make it ready for sale. Sarah manages to chip away Sylvia’s secret life, whilst learning how to quilt and introduce both of them into the local community. Their relationship allows them to confront the troubles in the here and now whilst making for some forgiveness of the troubles in the past.

It’s a slowish moving book but still one that can be read in a matter of days. There’s a certain gentility of Sylvia’s life, despite the pain and loss she has had in her life. Meanwhile we get some hint as to what has gone on in Sarah’s life too that has brought her and her husband to this place.


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