The Christmas Quilt, written by Jennifer Chiaverini is the eighth book in the Elm Creek Quilts series.  It can be read out of order.  This fictional book was released in 2005.

Overview: When Christmas Eve comes to Elm Creek Manor, the tenor of the holiday is far from certain. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, has her own reasons for preferring a quiet, even subdued, Christmas. Her young friend Sarah McClure, however, takes the opposite view and decides to deck the halls brightly. As she explores the trunks packed with Bergstrom family decorations that haven’t been touched in more than fifty years, Sarah discovers a curious Christmas quilt. Begun in seasonal fabrics and patterns, the quilt remains unfinished.

Sylvia reveals that the handiwork spans several generations and a quartet of Bergstrom quilters — her great aunt, her mother, her sister, and herself. As she examines the array of quilt blocks each family member contributed but never completed, memories of Christmases past emerge.

At Elm Creek Manor, Christmas began as a celebration of simple virtues — joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving. As each successive generation of Bergstroms lived through its unique trials — the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II — tradition offered sustenance even during the most difficult times. For Sylvia, who is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten, reconciliation with her personal history may prove as elusive as piecing the Christmas Quilt.

Elm Creek Manor is full of secrets, from a Christmas tree with unusual properties to the sublime Bergstrom strudel recipe. Sylvia’s tales at first seem to inform her family legacy but ultimately illuminate far more, from the importance of women’s art to its place in commemorating our shared experience, at Christmastime and in every season.

My Ideation: This was a sweet story of love, traditions, forgiveness, and Christmas.  This is one of those stories that is set in present day, but flashes back in time.  The main character, Sylvia, has moved back to her childhood home and has a young couple living with her.  Together they have formed a quilting camp for the summer months.  It is Christmas time and Sylvia is struggling with celebrating the holiday.  Through the couple’s encouragement, she begins to remember back to when she was a child and her extended family lived with her parents, brother, sister, and her.  The flashbacks reveal traditions and the making of the Christmas quilt.  It was never finished during Sylvia’s childhood or young adult years.  It’s not until the very end of the story when Sylvia begins to forgive her sister for past hurts and understands what family is truly about that the quilt is finished.

This was a wonderful story.  I normally do not read Christmas books after the holiday, but couldn’t resist this one.  The traditions Sylvia’s family had were sweet and exciting ones.  I loved how the family pulled together and forged on during the difficult times.  Although Sylvia finds forgiveness toward her deceased sister, she helps Sarah, the young lady who lives with her, find forgiveness in her mother.  The love these characters felt toward one another was heartfelt and uplifting.

About the Author:  Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER, MRS. LINCOLN’S RIVAL, THE SPYMISTRESS, MRS. GRANT AND MADAME JULE, and other acclaimed historical novels. She also wrote the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, “In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.”

Summation: 4/5

I was in no way compensated for this review.  I simply enjoyed the story and wanted to share it for others to read.

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