Readers of The Quilter's Apprentice and Round Robin have been enchanted by Elm Creek Quilt Camp, where women gather each year for quilting, friendship, and fun. The third in the Elm Creek Quilts series introduces the Cross-Country Quilters, a group of far-flung friends who pledge to complete a "challenge quilt" -- symbolic of each woman's personal goals -- in one year's time.
These five women arrive at Elm Creek Manor hoping to find in their quilt lessons an escape from the problems they left at home. Julia, an aging starlet, has pinned her hopes to a plum role in a historical epic whose director is under the mistaken impression that Julia already knows how to quilt. Megan is a successful engineer who has won prizes for her miniature quilt designs. The one challenge she has yet to master is single motherhood. Donna, a mother of two, must hasten to teach her daughter independence and self-esteem -- lessons she, too, must take to heart. Grace is a renowned curator of antique quilts, whose creative flair is waning for reasons she is unwilling to reveal -- even to her closest friends. Vinnie, the senior member of the group, is a sunny soul with a tragic past. Her overwhelming desire is to bring happiness into the lives of those she loves.
Although the Cross-Country Quilters share a common creative goal, as the year goes by their bonds are tested by the demands of daily life. But despite differences in age, race, and background, the friends' love for quilting and affection for one another unite them in a patchwork of caring and acceptance. The quilt they make reminds them of an everlasting truth -- friends may be separated by great distance, yet the strength of their bond can transcend any obstacle.
The third installment in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series (The Quilter's Apprentice; Round Robin) once again features an ensemble cast of women who learn the importance of friendship and sisterhood by way of their passion for quilting. This time, five women from across the country meet during a weeklong visit to Elm Creek quilting camp in rural Waterford, Pa. Craft and crises intertwine as each woman reveals her private tale of family conflict, marital woes and health concerns. Julia Merchaud is an aging soap star, at camp to acquire quilting skills she falsely claimed to possess in order to secure a film role, while renowned quilter Grace Daniels, recently diagnosed with MS, suffers quilter's block and comes to Elm Creek hoping for inspiration. Megan and Donna are e-mail buddies, both from the Midwest, meeting in person for the first time. Megan, an aerospace engineer, is a recently divorced single mom with a friendless and troubled nine-year-old son, while Donna is escaping her daughter's sudden engagement and the attendant social chores. Rounding out the bunch is happy-go-lucky octogenarian Nana, an Elm Creek veteran intent on making a match for her single grandson, Adam. After a week of bonding and binding, the five women agree to collaborate on a Challenge Quilt, in which each participant must overcome a major obstacle in her life before beginning her section of the project. When they return the following year, each problem has been resolved with ample amounts of sugar and sentiment. Endearing characters and pleasant vignettes render this series as charming and cozy as a favorite blanket. Agent, Maria Massie. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Insights into the lives of 5 women who are also quilters
Posted July 26, 2010 by Wendy , CranstonWonderful story of 5 women who meet at a quilt camp (I wish I knew of one to go to) and how they work through their life challenges as well as their Challenge Quilt block. Jennifer holds your interest in each of these womens lives as they unfold into life's quilt.
Simon & Schuster
March 26, 2002
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Excerpt from The Cross-Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini
Julia loathed retirement parties. Watching the guest of honor make the obligatory final curtain call evoked a predictable yet uncomfortable melancholy, but worse yet was the sense of the other guests' eyes upon her. She imagined their whispers: Isn't it about time we threw one of these parties for her, the dowager queen of the television drama? Doesn't she realize her time has passed?
As she raised her champagne flute to join the others in a toast to Maury, the man who had been her agent throughout her career, Julia forced herself to smile. Despite the critics' lukewarm appreciation of her talent, she knew she was a fine actress. No one would detect her dismay at realizing that she was one of the oldest people present, that she could no longer count on being the most beautiful woman in the room, that maybe it was best that she retire with some dignity instead of lingering on long past her prime.
No doubt the stars and would-be stars assembled there expected her own announcement soon, especially since Family Tree had just ended its lengthy run. She had hoped for at least another two years, but as the three endearing cherubs who played her grandchildren grew into sulky adolescents with various addictions and attitude problems, the program's once-spectacular ratings had begun a gradual but unmistakably downward slide. The final blow had come the previous winter, when the actor who played her son-in-law developed a particularly nasty infection in one of his pectoral implants. When his hospitalization forced them to shut down production for a month and show reruns during sweeps week, the studio heads decided not to renew any of their contracts. Most of the cast moved on to other projects, but for the first time in over two decades, Julia found herself facing a summer hiatus that threatened to extend indefinitely.
If she were planning to leave the business, this would seem to be the time to do it. Money wouldn't be a problem; she had invested her earnings so wisely that she wouldn't need to earn a paycheck to maintain her lifestyle -- even with the ungodly amount of alimony she had to pay her third husband. But to retire now, before she had starred in a hit movie, something meaningful and important and true -- that would be unbearable.
A handsome young waiter smiled as he offered her another glass of champagne. Drowning her sorrows didn't seem like such a bad idea, given that her series was over and Maury was abandoning her, so she placed her empty glass on the waiter's tray and took another. As she raised it to her lips, Maury caught her eye and inclined his head in the direction of his study. She took a hasty sip and nodded to indicate she would join him there. If he intended to scold her for drinking too much, she'd scold him right back. What was he thinking, retiring when she needed him so desperately?
"You look lovely," he greeted her, kissing her on the cheek as she entered the study. He closed the heavy door behind them, shutting out the noise of the party.
"Thank you, Maury. You look rather lovely yourself."
He grinned and tugged at the sleeves of his elegant tuxedo. "Evelyn insisted," he said. "I didn't want such an ostentatious send-off. I would have preferred eighteen holes and a quiet lunch at the club with a few friends."
"And disappoint everyone who wanted to bid you a proper good-bye?" Julia tried keep her voice light, but she couldn't prevent some bitterness from slipping in. "It's not like you to put your golf game ahead of your friends."
"Now, Julia, don't be like that." He placed a hand at the small of her back and guided her to a soft tapestry-covered sofa in front of the fireplace. "You're going to be well looked after. Your new agent will be able to do more for you than I have these past few years."