The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
Another season of Elm Creek Quilt Camp has come to a close, and Bonnie Markham faces a bleak and lonely winter ahead, with her quilt shop out of business and her divorce looming. A welcome escape comes when Claire, a beloved college friend, unexpectedly invites her to Maui to help launch an exciting new business: a quilter’s retreat set at a bed and breakfast amid the vibrant colours and balmy breezes of the Hawaiian Islands. Soon Bonnie finds herself looking out on sparkling waters and banyan trees, planning quilting courses, and learning the history and intricacies of Hawaiian quilting, all the while helping Claire run the inn.
As Bonnie’s adventure unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that Claire’s new business isn’t the only excitement in store for her. Her cheating, soon-to-be ex-husband decides he wants her stake in Elm Creek Quilts, which threatens not only her financial well-being but her dearest friendships as well. Luckily she has the artistic challenge of creating her own unique Hawaiian quilt pattern to distract her and new friends like Hinano Paoa, owner of the N’Mele Hawai Music Shop, who introduces Bonnie to the fascinating traditions of Hawaiian culture and reminds her that love can be found when and where you least expect it
This is practically a stand alone novel in the series, and concentrates on Bonnie, one of the original members of Elm Creek, travelling to Hawaii to help her friend Claire establish a new quilting retreat, whilst putting some distance between herself and her husband during a rather acrimonious divorce.
The new setting allows Chiaverini to introduce her readers to a new way of quilting – this is number 16 in the series after all! – as well as giving a potted history of Hawaiian history (no idea if it’s right or wrong but fair dues to her for even trying!). The Elm Creek Quilters are barely seen until the end, for various reasons, so is pretty much a standalone book.
The divorce has been a long time coming, so it’s a relief that it’s finally over, even if it’s a small part of the back story.
Claire is the opposite of Bonnie – the former ignoring the things she sees as negative, where as Bonnie takes everything the wrong way and thinks it’s for the worst.
I have to admit I did skim the occasional small set of pages in this book – there were parts that it did seem to be more of what us Brits call “a party political broadcast on behalf of…” so it ran very close to being a lecture on how bad things had gone for the Hawaiians over the years.
So in summary: a fairly standalone book in the series, that gives the reader a decent overview of Hawaiian quilting, and finishes one of the long running threads in the series, but little more