Friday, February 20, 2009

The Quilter's Legacy, Elm Creek Quilts: A book review

The Quilter’s Legacy (Elm Creek Quilts Series #5) continues the story of the Elm Creek quilters by focusing once again on the life of Sylvia Compson. More accurately, the novel focuses on her ancestry, and Sylvia’s mother, Eleanor, in particular. When Sylvia prepares to go the attic to find her mother’s quilts, she is informed that her sister sold them several decades ago. Sylvia then decides to conduct a nationwide search in the effort to determine where they might have gone.

Along the way, we are given a lot of detail regarding Eleanor and her relatively short life. We learn that she was born with a condition that rendered her physically less robust than others, which, she was told, would eventually lead to an early death. However, when she lived beyond childhood, which was not anticipated, Eleanor began to truly live life and to make decisions, such as getting married and having children, that she had otherwise never dreamed she’d be able to do. We not only learn about her family life before she married and left home, but we also learn about her difficult relationship with her parents, and how they lived during Eleanor’s adult years. In this history of Eleanor’s life, we learn of the quilts she expertly sewed at certain times and in response to certain events.

Yet this novel is as much about the importance of the documentation of family history as it is about a particular family. Eleanor was faithful to sign and label all of her quilts, which provided Sylvia with a bit of assistance during her search for them. However, had Claudia, Sylvia’s sister who sold the heirloom quilts, been faithful to at least note where she sold them or to whom she sold them, it would have perhaps given Sylvia a bit more of assistance when she searched for them.

The manner in which the story unfolds is similar to other Elm Creek novels, yet slightly different. As in earlier novels, the history is told in flashbacks. However, unlike other novels in the series, only the reader is allowed to know the history; the characters remain ignorant of the events. So, essentially, while we find out about Eleanor’s life, Sylvia and her friends do not have the benefit of receiving the same information. Again, here is a reason to ensure that a family’s history gets recorded; it would have been nice for Sylvia to have more knowledge of her mother than the few scanty details that she had.

As always, you will enjoy this book as the lighthearted, entertaining novel it was meant to be. Even in spite of the author’s desire to incorporate a dose of reality into the book, it is still rather “pie in the sky” at times. But I think you will still find this book entertaining and, at times, even suspenseful and tear-jerking.

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