Book three of the series, The Cross-Country Quilters introduces us to new quilters. As suggested by the title, these quilters make their way from various regions of the country to Elm Creek for a quilt retreat. Naturally, the established characters make appearances throughout the book. Sylvia is on the mend from an occurrence in the second book. Sarah and Matthew, who have now assumed a greater role in the management of Elm Creek Manor, are seen from time to time, as well, with issues between them growing.
We are introduced to women who are unlikely to become friends, were it not for their Cross Country Quilters group, but yet form friendships. One character, Julia, is making a last-ditch effort to revive her failing movie career by learning to quilt for a part in a movie. Two other quilters, Donna and Megan, met on the Internet and have the opportunity to meet in person at Elm Creek Manor at the quilt retreat. Vinnie, a spunky octogenerian, is hoping to pair her grandson with Donna.
We are introduced to quilters of color in this book. Grace, a world famous quilter, has been unable to quilt for several months. While she states that she has a severe case of 'quilter's block,' the reality is that she is hiding MS, a debilitating illness, which robs her of her ability to hold scissors or to sew fabric pieces together. We also meet Judy, whose soldier father abandoned her and her mother not long after she was born. Judy has recently been contacted by her father's other family, and is debating traveling to meet them.
As always, there is a healthy mix of triumphs and trials, successes and failures in the book. In a society where a large segment of the population is nearing retirement age, dealing with issues of aging and illness are very appropriate. It is also appreciated that quilters of color are included, as well. Also, there are parenting challenges, marital problems, physical illnesses (other than MS), just to name of few. Cross-Country Quilters is an enjoyable read.