The Sugar Camp Quilt marks the seventh installment in the Elm Creek Quilt series. This time, author Jennifer Chiaverini breaks from the present-day storyline to explore an earlier era in Pennsylvania’s rich past.
Nineteen-year-old Dorothea Granger has just been relieved of her teaching duties at the Creek’s Crossing school. Thomas Nelson is the son of a prominent businessman. Amid rumors of past prison time, Mr. Nelson is returning to the small town to become the new schoolmaster.
With no children to teach, Dorothea assists her parents and uncle on the farm. The Grangers lost their own farm in a flood several years ago. All the backbreaking labor they do is on Uncle Jacob’s land. They hope he will eventually leave the homestead to his nephew Jonathan: the Granger’s only son.
Strict Uncle Jacob commissions The Sugar Camp Quilt. He gives no reason for his demands. He only insists that Dorothea make an oddly patterned utility quilt to his exact specifications. Readers eventually learn the surprising reason for the uncle’s behavior.
Chiaverini sets this novel in the years leading up to the Civil War. Tension between the North and South states is rising as slaves risk their lives for a chance at freedom. The characters in The Sugar Camp Quilt are divided as well and some will suffer dearly for their beliefs.
One need not be familiar with the other books in the Elm Creek series to appreciate this stand-alone installment. Chiaverini successfully expands this set in the areas of history and suspense. Push through the dour beginning to reveal a gem of a tale in The Sugar Camp Quilt.