The Union Quilters
The Union Quilters, set in Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania in 1862 and continuing through the Civil War, is the latest in bestselling author Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts series. The men of Water’s Ford answer President Lincoln’s call and report for service for the Union cause, and while the women are proud and supportive of their men, they are also apprehensive about what the future holds. They meet once a week to share the letters received from the front lines and support each other when it seems as if all hope is lost. Readers are able to get the men’s perspective of the war as well through their powerful letters relaying the atrocities of their experiences. The Elm Creek Valley’s quilting circle is propelled into action to help their loved ones, and they work together to form a lucrative business to help raise funds for the troops and veterans.
There are four strong central characters, each with unique circumstances. Dorothea Granger is the core strength of the group whose husband takes their beloved Dove in the Window quilt with him to war. Anneke Bergstrom’s husband holds to his beliefs in nonviolence and chooses not to serve, and his choice drives Anneke to prove to the town that they are indeed loyal to the Union. Her sister-in-law, Gerda Bergstrom, proves to be a powerful voice in the war effort. Constance Wright is a beacon of comfort to her husband, Abel, who is repeatedly refused by the Army because of his skin color.
The Union Quilters unfolds at a leisurely pace and is a gentle read that is sure to please fans of the series and make some new ones. The most appealing aspect of the book is seeing the community come together in tough social and political times.