The Lost Quilter: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
by Jennifer Chiaverini
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009
When I am in search of some enjoyable leisure reading, I frequently reach for a Jennifer Chiaverini novel. Her Elm Creek Quilts series combines wonderful stories with quilting and for me, they are pure pleasure. "The Lost Quilter" is one of her finest efforts. Set primarily in the Civil War era (with modern times bookending the story), it focuses on a runaway slave, Joanna, who was recaptured, forced to leave her young son behind, and resume life as a slave. It centers on her quest to once again become a free woman.
This is a fine work of historical fiction, particularly appropriate as we remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Chiaverini definitely did her research when preparing to write this work. The relationships among slaves as well as that between slaves and their masters are deftly protrayed. The use of quilting as an aid in the Underground Railroad and in preserving slave history is also examined. Most of all, however, this is an engaging story which will keep you turning pages. One can't help but become invested in Joanna's life and her search for a way out of slavery for herself and her family.