Jennifer Chiaverini is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her quite by accident one day in the library. She has written a series of novels called "Elm Creek Quilts" which are about a group of women who run a quilting "camp" and the various quilters who pass their way. Excellent books.
She has also written several historical fiction novels in the series -- one about the Underground Railroad which was absolutely riveting, and another which followed up on the central character of that novel -- and this one which I was so excited to discover!
The Union Quilters is about a group of women who love to get together to quilt, but then the Civil War points them in another direction. After Lincoln's call to arms in 1862, the men of Water's Ford, Pennsylvania hurry to join up, leaving the women to run their homes on their own. They rally together to form the Union Quilters, using their talents to provide for the soldiers on the front lines and for those who have been wounded and returned home. They draw strength and encouragement from each other as they face hard and often sad times.
Throughout the novel are woven the stories of these exceptional women and of their brave men who are at war. We learn of the soldiers' experiences through letters written home and shared by the women around the quilting tables. Ms. Chiaverini brings these stories to life with historical facts, letting us see up close the suffering of the men engaged in battle, the problems faced in dealing with the wounded, and the loneliness of those left at home.
This is an excellent book, written so as to capture not only the pain and suffering of soldiers on both the Union and Confederate sides, but also to give us the hope, love, and humor of these very brave women. Women just like the ones in our own ancestries.
I highly recommend Ms. Chiaverini's novels, and will be bringing more of them to you. If you read them, try to do so in order since they tend to build one upon the other and some of the same characters, or their ancestors, appear from novel to novel.
To read more about the Elm Creek Quilts novels and Jennifer Chiaverini, go here to her website and blog.