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Friday, June 22, 2007

Jennifer Chiaverini: The Quilter's Apprentice (Rating: 8)

I have just finished The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini (May's "Neighborhood Wive's Book Club" pick).

The book opens with the main character, Sarah McClure, trying to find her place . . .The book opens with the main character, Sarah McClure, trying to find her place in the small college town of Waterford, Pennsylvania. (Sarah and her husband, Matt, have recently moved to Waterford so that he could take a job.)

Specifically—ironically, even—she's waiting for Matt to pick her up from (what will turn out to be) yet another fruitless job interview.

Since moving to Waterford, Sarah has been having trouble finding work outside of her chosen profession (accounting), a career choice that she admits to herself now is not all that she'd hoped for. In short, Sarah is starting to long for something more.

On the way home from Sarah's interview, Matt—a landscaper by trade—needs to stop off for a talk with his new client, Mrs. Compson, the elderly woman who owns Elm Creek Manor (the estate—for lack of a better word—that Matt is restoring to its former glory.)

It turns out Mrs. Compson is planning to sell Elm Creek Manor, and needs help with the cleaning up of the inside, deciding what to keep and what to discard, and has decided she wants Sarah to help her with that job (at least until "something better" comes along, as in "a real job").

Now, before Mrs. Compson has a chance to bring this suggestion to Sarah's attention, Sarah has not only taken an interest in learning to quilt, but has seen first-hand that Mrs. Compson has mastered the art of quilting, so Sarah makes a condition of her employment that she be taught to quilt.

Throughout the rest of this book, during the restoration of the Manor's interior and her quilting lessons, and even at her meetings with the Tangled Web Quilters "in town", Sarah learns a great deal about Mrs. Compson's history, as well as the history of Elm Creek Manor, and decides upon a task that she wants to accomplish, other than learning to quilt.

Things I liked about this book:

  • I cannot go into details about the big thing I liked, because there is something in this book that did surprise me, and it is the surprise itself that makes it so much fun, but I will say that it has to do with a puzzle, and that's all I'll say about that!
  • I liked the way Mrs. Compson's background was revealed in the stories she'd tell Sarah.
  • I really (a word which here means "really, really, really, really, really") connected with Sarah's second thoughts on her chosen career path!
Things I didn't really care for about this book:
  • I didn't care for the voice used telling this story (the external story, not when Mrs. Compson was telling stories to Sarah)
  • I didn't care a whole lot for some of the dialog.
  • I thought the book was somewhat predictable in some regards, especially the ending.
Regarding the first two problems I had with the book, I guess I thought something along the lines of "Who talks like this?" Perhaps this is just some prejudice on my part, something rubbing me the wrong way, but it just didn't sit well.

The way it really came across as was: the writing seems amateurish. But then, it was a first novel, so I'm willing to cut some slack there. If my first novel is ever published, I wouldn't be surprised if my prose seemed equally amateurish.

What this book made me think:
  • It was easy for Joseph Campbell to advocate "Follow Your Bliss", but you'll never do that until you figure out just what the heck that is!
  • Mend fences! The lives you touch while you are planted on this planet is what it is all about!

In short, if you're looking for a light read that is also enjoyable, you might be interested in reading this book, in particular if you love to quilt. (I wouldn't say "I love to quilt.", but I have helped Julie with a quilt she worked on for her sister and found that I really don't hate it either.)

If you'd like to learn more about Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts novels, follow the link I've provided.

Matière du jour:
Ludwig van Beethoven
(Category: Music)

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Random Magus said...

I LOVE reading as well.. haven't read this one though.
On my comments you recommended A Spot of Bother... read it a couple of days ago, its amazing.
The Time Traveler's Wife, I just started...
Next on the list 'A thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini who write 'The Kite Runner'
Thanks for dropping by!!!!