The Giving Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #20)

The Giving Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #20)

by Jennifer Chiaverini

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Overview

The Giving Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #20) by Jennifer Chiaverini

Every stitch makes a difference in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini’s artful, inspiring novel that imagines what good would come from practicing the holiday spirit each and every day of the year.

At Elm Creek Manor, the week after Thanksgiving is “Quiltsgiving,” a time to commence a season of generosity. From near and far, quilters and aspiring quilters—a librarian, a teacher, a college student, and a quilt-shop clerk among them—gather for a special winter session of quilt camp, to make quilts for Project Linus, a charitable organization dedicated to providing handmade quilts and blankets to children in need. Each quilter, ever mindful that many of her neighbors, friends, and family members are struggling through difficult times, pledges the strength of her creative gifts to alleviate their collective burden. So it happens that when the Quiltsgiving participants swap fabrics and trade techniques around the quilting circle, the warm, bright, beautiful quilts they piece are infused with love and comfort. So, too, are their personal stories, which collectively consider the strength of human connection and its rich rewards.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142180242
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/02/2013
Series: Elm Creek Quilts Series , #20
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 248,556
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt projects inspired by the novels.  Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is her most recent book.  A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and The University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Jennifer Chiaverini and the Elm Creek Quilts series
“Chiaverini’s themes of love, loss, and healing will resonate with many, and her characters’ stories are inspiring.” —Publishers Weekly

“Jennifer Chiaverini has made quite a name for herself with her bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series. From the Civil War to the Roaring Twenties to contemporary settings, these novels have offered suspense, romance, and, at times, in-depth looks into the social, political, and cultural differences that helped shape a nation.” —BookPage

“Chiaverini excels at weaving stories and at character development. We can relate to the residents of Elm Creek Valley because they remind us of folks we know—a cousin, an aunt, or a grandmother.” —Standard-Examiner (Utah)

“Jennifer Chiaverini’s strength is not only writing strong female characters, but also placing them in interesting lives and times.” —New York Journal of Books

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

At Elm Creek Manor, the week after Thanksgiving is “Quiltsgiving,” a time to commence a season of generosity. From near and far, quilters and aspiring quilters—a librarian, a teacher, a college student, and a quilt–shop clerk among them—gather for a special winter session of quilt camp, to make quilts for Project Linus, a charitable organization dedicated to providing handmade quilts and blankets to children in need. Each quilter, ever mindful that many of her neighbors, friends, and family members are struggling through difficult times, pledges the strength of her creative gifts to alleviate their collective burden. So it happens that when the Quiltsgiving participants swap fabrics and trade techniques around the quilting circle, the warm, bright, beautiful quilts they piece are infused with love and comfort. So, too, are their personal stories, which collectively consider the strength of human connection and its rich rewards.

 


ABOUT JENNIFER CHIAVERINI

Jennifer Chiaverini lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to the six volumes in the Elm Creek Quilts series and two books of quilt patterns inspired by the novels, she designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric line from Red Rooster Fabrics.

 


A CONVERSATION WITH JENNIFER CHIAVERINI

Q. How does The Giving Quilt, the twentieth Elm Creek Quilts novel, fit into the series? What was the inspiration behind the book?

In The Giving Quilt, the Elm Creek Quilts series returns to contemporary times as the Elm Creek Quilters host a special week of winter quilt camp to create quilts for Project Linus, a national organization whose mission is to provide love, a sense of security, warmth, and comfort to children in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets, quilts, and afghans. Sylvia, Sarah, and the gang welcome four new characters—and one reader favorite who first appeared in my ninth novel, Circle of Quilters—to Elm Creek Manor, where they become confidantes and discover the many benefits of giving. Since I’ve written about Project Linus in previous novels, it will probably come as no surprise that the wonderful work of their thousands of volunteers helped inspire The Giving Quilt.

Q. Quilting connects all of your characters in significant ways, and you are a quilter yourself. How have your own experiences as a quilter inspired your writing?

Beginning writers are often advised to “write what you know.” Since I knew about quilters—their quirks, their inside jokes, their disputes and generosity, their quarrels and kindnesses—the lives of quilters became a natural subject for me. I also wanted to pay tribute to the quilters of ages past who preserved and handed down their traditions through the generations.

When I first began writing about quilters, I had two audiences in mind. The first included my quilter friends, who I thought would enjoy reading about contemporary women like themselves with problems and dreams like their own, overcoming obstacles in their lives by taking strength from their own moral courage and from the support of faithful friends. I also believed quilters would appreciate a depiction of modern quilters and quilt–making free of the usual stereotypes.

But I also intended to write for non–quilters, to give them some insight into the quilting world, so that they might better understand how passionate we quilters are about our art and why we love it so. I wanted them to take away from my books a greater understanding of how quilting is a wonderful creative outlet that can draw you into a wider community of talented, welcoming quilters who support and encourage one another. Perhaps more importantly, I wanted them to discover how quilting can bring together people from different generations, races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds into a patchwork of friendship.

Q. Do you think of the quilts you feature in each of your Elm Creek Quilts novels as characters, of a sort? How do you decide which quilts and patterns to include in which novels? What do you say to people who assume your books are only about quilts?

People who assume my books are only about quilts obviously haven’t read them! I’ve always known that my books are about quilters—in other words, people—rather than quilts or quilting. That said, the quilts my characters make are never arbitrary. They aren’t included as an afterthought or as set decoration, but are as important to my characters as real quilts are to the quilters who make them.

Often I’ll use a quilt to provide insight into a particular character’s personality or past. You can learn a great deal about quilters from the style of quilts they make, the techniques they use, their color and fabric palettes, and whether they finish quilts or have a closet full of abandoned projects. In my novels, sometimes a quilt will play an important role as a narrative device. In The Quilter’s Apprentice, a sampler quilt serves as a useful instructional project as a master quilter teaches her young friend how to quilt, but the patterns also evoke stories from the older woman’s childhood and life as a young bride on the World War II home front. In Round Robin, a collaborative project allowed me to tell the story from different characters’ perspectives as the central block was passed around the circle of friends and each contributed her border.

Ultimately, however, my novels are character–driven stories of friendship, history, moral courage, and ordinary people’s struggle to overcome adversity—and you don’t need to know anything about quilts or quilting to enjoy them.

Q. What are you working on now? Will we hear more from the Elm Creek Quilters?

My next novel, The Spymistress (Dutton, October 2013), will explore the suspenseful, clandestine life of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union loyalist who was General Grant’s most valuable spy in her native Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Later in the fall, Plume will publish a reader’s guide to the Elm Creek Quilts series titled An Elm Creek Quilts Companion, which will include character biographies, a Bergstrom family tree, descriptions of significant places and things, illustrations of quilt blocks, an interview with the Elm Creek Quilters, and a few other reference tools readers have told me they’d like to have at their fingertips. While writing the Companion, I enjoyed reading through all twenty of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, revisiting favorite settings and tracing the winding paths my characters have followed through the years. It’s been quite a journey for me as well.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Friendship is a central part of the Elm Creek Quilts series. Sylvia reflects on friends she’s made through the Elm Creek Quilters and muses about how to fully define the word “friend.” How would you define a friend?
  • Sylvia describes the manor as a “sheltered place, a haven from the chaos of the disappointments of ordinary life.” Discuss the new characters introduced in this novel and the reasons they have come to visit Elm Creek Manor.
  • Pauline’s desire to be liked and accepted seems to lead to more conflict than acceptance. How might you have handled the situation with Brenda?
  • The quilters are asked why they give. What did you make of their responses? Why do you give?
  • At one point, Linnea invites a fellow quilter into her group, noting to herself how “demoralizing it is to be the leftover, the one not chosen, the one not noticed but assigned by default.” At some point or another, each of the new quilters feels leftover or overlooked. Does this change by the end of the novel? How so?
  • Pauline seems to approach the week at Elm Creek Quilt Camp as more of a competition than a giving opportunity. Do you see a change in her attitude at any point?
  • Sylvia speaks of the importance of stories and their use in teaching, learning and “making sense of the world around us.” How do stories influence your world?
  • In the spirit of this story, think about what a journal entry would be in your Giving Journal. Share with one another ways that you give of yourself. Who are you especially grateful for? Why?
  • Each woman faces some kind of challenge in the novel. Which character do you think faced adversity with the most aplomb? The least? What personality traits do you think are the most helpful to have when dealing with difficulties?
  • This book focused mainly on new characters in the series. Did you have a favorite? Who, and why?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Giving Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
    Dollycas More than 1 year ago
    The week after Thanksgiving is a very special time at Elm Creek Manor. It is Quiltsgiving! A week were quilters come and make quilts to give to Project Linus. Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson Cooper starts the week by asking the quilter's “Why do you give?” Each quilter has their own reasons for coming to Elm Creek Manor at this time and most have trouble answering Sylvia's question. As the week goes by they bond together making the quilts, sewing love and comfort right into each wonderful quilt. The friendships also bloom and burdens are lifted. The Giving Quilt will remind us all: Giving from the heart blesses the giver as much as the recipient, and while giving may not always be easy, it is always worthwhile. Visiting Elm Creek Manor is like wrapping yourself in a warm cozy quilt. This story was a pure joy to read. Chiaverini brings back all the characters we love and introduces to a wonderful new group of quilters too. She sews together their stories in a way that seems effortless and yet is so inspiring. These stories always leave me wanting to gather fabric and lose myself stitching a quilt, something I haven't been able to do since my accident, but this story invoked another thought process all about giving. Why do I personally give and how? Can I give more? It was Michaela's story that really touched my heart. I immediately went in to mother mode and wanted to protect her like I would do for my own daughters. So young and so strong and then stronger through the support she found making new friends at Elm Creek. If I would have been her age, a leg in a cast, I would have never pushed ahead to attend this week long quilting event. But she does and she has given me a push I probably needed to search out ways to do sew and quilt again someday. That asking for help to do something you love is important and maybe I may never be able to do it myself again but I plan to teach my daughters and try to revive my passion and pass it on to them. Each character is different with various problems they are facing at home. Everyone that reads this book with find one or more characters they can identify with and understand. A heartwarming and powerful story. A perfect read for this time of year that reminds us that giving and helping others can be more than a holiday event, it should be a year round happening.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Over the years, Jennifer Chiaverini has written many novels in her Elm Creek Quilts series and "The Giving Quilt" is by far one of her best. As a variety of quilters assemble at Elm Creek for a week of making "giving" quilts to be donated to the local Project Linus organization, we are given glimpses into the their lives and what brings them to this special session. Each individual has a special reason to be thankful and this thankfulness is stitched into each quilt. This book is wonderful to read any time of year, but the theme of thankfulness makes it perfect for the holiday season. As a member of Project Linus, I was delighted to see this wonderful organization receive attention and hopefully many women will be inspired to join their local chapters.
    Pat- More than 1 year ago
    Great story with lots of feelings. I have read all the booiks in the Elm Creek Quilts series and this is one of the best.
    reader02VA More than 1 year ago
    Jennifer Chiaverini is very easy to read. Her characters are woven together to tell a complete story. I enjoyed her book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was a very good read. Love Jennifer's series.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love the Elm Creek Quilters series and was very excited to read another book centering around some of my favorite characters. Unfortunately The Giving Quilt did not live up to expectations. There was far too little of the Elm Creek women and far too much whining, politicizing and preaching about big bad Big Business, the economy and general unfairness. The new characters were not very likeable and some of their "stories" weren't believable. They seemed to revel in their unhappiness. Ms Chiaverini seemed to have 'phoned this one in'.
    QuilterPam More than 1 year ago
    I've read her whole series and enjoyed this one as much as all the others. I'm waiting for her next one!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this book partly because I am a quilter but it also was a good story. Giving is an attribute of most quilt groups and this book zeroed in on that. A pleasant read
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    gquilter More than 1 year ago
    As with all the books in the Elm Creek series I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am looking forward to reading the next one, "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker". When you read these books from the beginning, you can't help but feel that Slyvia and all her friends become like your own family and don't want the books to end. In this book, we continue to learn more about the Elm Creek family and also meet many new people who become our friends. It's the kind of book that is very hard to put down. If you haven't read any of Jennifer books, it's time to sart. Quilter's will love it and anyone who likes reading about true frindships among women with some history thrown in, will want to read all 21 books and wait impatiently for the next one.
    moonshell127 More than 1 year ago
    Absolutely wonderful storytelling with very real characters and situations. Loved the librarian's story because I, too, am a school librarian facing cuts in schools.
    qltnbe More than 1 year ago
    Another great book by Jennifer. She never disappoints.
    SoManyBooksSoLittleTimeBL More than 1 year ago
    It's hard to say if I'll enjoy this book - a few readers commented that the storyline didn't include much at all of the manor, the original characters, nor quilting as a group. Seems it's more of a general story of thanksgiving which is fine - but you expect more about the art/craft of qulting if it's in such a series. We'll see!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very disappointed ! Too much about two characters and not enough about the quilt camp.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It was very good. Kay has read all of her booths except one.
    jabez7 More than 1 year ago
    Always look forward to the next chapter in the story of the Elm Creek Ladies. Jennifer, don't stop giving us these wonderful stories.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So disappointed, was so looking forward to this book. In a word "boring". I have read all of the Elm Creek books, but this book has turned me off.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read every one of the Elm Creek books and have enjoyed each one. However the last two have gotten further and further away from the manor and the original cast of characters. I think maybe it is time to move on.
    pat34AZ More than 1 year ago
    I have not read as yet but I have read the rest of her series and they are great!