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The Lost Quilter (Elm Creek Quilts #14)

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,606 Ratings  ·  507 Reviews
Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson treasures an antique quilt called by three names -- Birds in the Air, after its pattern; the Runaway Quilt, after the woman who sewed it; and the Elm Creek Quilt, after the place to which its maker longed to return. That quilter was Joanna, a fugitive slave who traveled by the Underground Railroad to reach safe haven in 1859 at Elm C ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2009)
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Good Yarns: Knitting Fiction
65th out of 149 books — 227 voters
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12th out of 30 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

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Julie Barrett
Mar 03, 2014 Julie Barrett rated it really liked it
The Lost Quilter
In this book of the ongoing saga Sylvia and Sarah have discovered a long lost letter in a drawer.
It speaks of others that they have no idea who they are. Joanna was a Negro slave and has made her way to the north and the quilt made shows the path through various states that she took.
The quilt is known as 3 different names. The journey leads to Elm Creek where she once lived and had a son. There was also an award for her return-1858.
Sylvia knows of others who can help her find th
LuVerne Hoover
Sep 21, 2015 LuVerne Hoover rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very moving book. I cried at the end for the beauty of it all. This is one of my favorite books in her series.

Joanna was a slave who had endured horrific treatment and escaped. As a fugitive, she learned to read while hiding out at a farm in PA. She was captured and separated from her newborn son, and was sent back to her master. She was sold much further south to her master's brother and managed to find love with Titus and have another child. She was sold away from her husband and was separat
Jun 20, 2009 Kerry rated it liked it
I have enjoyed each and every Elm Creek Quilts book that I have ever read and look forward to each new installment. This book, The Lost Quilter, resolves most of the open questions left open by the Runaway Quilt, specifically the fate of Joanna, the runaway slave that found a temporary refuge at Elm Creek Manor. It was good to see Joanna get a (mostly) happy ending because the author does an excellent job of getting the reader invested in this character.

Having said that, most of the recent book
Carolyn E
Jan 12, 2012 Carolyn E rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I would give this book a perfect 10. It is an awesome, heart-wrenching story of Joanna, a young runaway, pregnant slave who has managed to make it to Elm Creek, Pennsylvania, where some sympathetic abolitionist women take her in and hide her until her baby is born. The story takes place in 1859, just prior to the beginning of the Civil War. It is a vivid, heart-breaking story of the abuse Joanna suffered before she ran away, and what happened to her after she was found and returned to her master ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: crafts, quilts
I normally don't like the books in the Elm Creek Quilt series that diverge from the main storyline, but I found myself liking this one. Although I'm ashamed to admit it, I don't remember that much about the main character Joanna in this novel. She had appeared in a previous one but was more a side character than a main character. Because there are thirteen books before this in the series, I'm not going to bother recapping them because that would be a novel in itself. Chiaverini provides enough d ...more
Jan 21, 2010 kelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, 2010, kindle, series
I admired the protagonist of The Lost Quilter, Joanna, immensely as she faced the daily challenge of not being able to lay claim to those things most dear to you such as spouse and children because they could be taken away at the whim of a cruel master. The book is heartbreakingly honest. Slavery was a terrible practice and the victims did not deserve the treatment. Joanna was an intelligent person that watched and waited and took advantage of every opportunity offered to her and eventually foun ...more
Robin Scharff
Jul 09, 2009 Robin Scharff rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book; I'm a beginning quilter and happened to do an extensive research project last year on the idea of slave/abolitionist quilts. While I liked the ending Chiaverini put on Joanna's story, I like The Sugar Camp Quilt and The Runaway Quilt (especially The Runaway Quilt) more. I also think she was wise to leave Sylvia and the others (as characters) with conjecture, rather than saying, Yes, this quilt was made by Joanna, period. Historically, there is no proof for the idea of a slav ...more
 Barb Bailey
Aug 23, 2014 Barb Bailey rated it really liked it
This Elm Creek Quilt book is a little more meaty than most of the books in the series. I would call this book more of a Historical Fiction as it deals with the Civil War in South Carolina as well as slavery. The story is about Joanna a run away slave that makes it to Elm Creek,PA only to be captured and returned to her master. Her life, trials and tribulations are told in a way that make them seem very real . 4 stars
Apr 08, 2009 Cathy rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2013 Lindsay rated it really liked it
It's true, I liked a novel with "quilter" in the title. I officially need to buy a walker and learn to crochet. I was so ready to hate this book. I was actually kind of excited about hating it. But other than the lackluster situation created to get to the good story(Sylvia researching her far more interesting ancestor, Joanna, due to an interesting quilt she left behind), I thought this book had an engaging plot and three dimensional characters I really cared about. Joanna, a slave freed and rec ...more
This is a sequel to book #4, The Runaway Quilt.

Hans & Gerda Bergstrom were brother & sister. Hans is Sylvia Bergstrom's great-grandfather, yet anytime they referenced Gerda she was Sylvia's great-GREAT-aunt. How can that be?? Gerda was Hans' sister, not his aunt. Chiaverini, or her copy editor, needs to learn a little bit about genealogy, if she is going to do a work on it. And Sylvia seems obsessed with both quilting & genealogy.

I had a hard time with this book, but then I have a h
Jun 19, 2009 Ragan rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of a slave woman and her fight for freedom. Somethings things I liked were that about half the book took place in South Carolina and I like to learn things about my new home state. I also liked that though Joanna goes though many horrible trials the author only goes into enough details so you can understand what is happening (like when she is whipped after running away) and shows the after effects. The story is well formed and moves at a nice pace. I didn't care for the ...more
Jan 24, 2011 Leslie rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book had elements of a good story and there were parts that I really enjoyed. The book is part of a series although it can easily be read independent of other books in the series. The writing in the beginning and at the end were disappointing. The authors tone was simplistic and somewhat condescending to the reader in introducing her characters. The bulk of the story was enjoyable and the characters believable. The story did flow well (due to some improbable events) but I doubt I will read ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Juanita rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, civil-war
1CThe Lost Quilter 1D by Jennifer Chiaverini was a good story. It was a 1850 19s historian version of slavery and the Civil War. Slavery and running for freedom was the main plot as where the Civil War came in during the last quarter of the book.

Joanna was a laundress and seamstress slave and the main character of the story. She went through tremendous cruelty throughout her life. She was also an escape slave runner with determination. She labored hours after hours for her Marse (Master) Chest
Feb 16, 2015 Carolyn rated it liked it
A contemporary master quilter, Sylvia Cooper, learns, from her great-great-aunt's memoir, about a runaway slave named Joanna who had sought shelter at the family's Pennsylvania farm. Sylvia wants to find out about what happened to Joanna after slave catchers took Joanna from the farm and returned her to her owner in South Carolina. The story then details Joanna's history as she is sold to her owner's brother further south in South Carolina to punish her for her escape. Of course, the treatment o ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Franny rated it liked it
The story of "The Lost Quilter", by itself, is an interesting one, but apparently is part of a series of "quilt" stories by Chiaverini and so is presented as a story-within-a-story. The series slant opens with the not-too-original ploy of a modern-day woman finding a bundle of letters in an old desk and closes with a long, completely superfluous epilogue. In between, however, we are given the story of Joanna North, a slave woman who escaped to Pennsylvania, was captured and returned to her maste ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Sandwiched inside a little bit of discovering old papers at Elm Creek is the tale of Joanna, the slave who was harboured there when she escaped from her owner and was heading north to Canada. Pregnant by her master she'd been unable to continue with the others in her group, and she had the child at Elm Creek. Before she was able to continue she was recaptured (though the baby was not), and this story is her life subsequent to that.

This is an excellent portrayal of a slave's life in the time up t
Elyse Becker
Nov 23, 2014 Elyse Becker rated it liked it
While I have been disappointed by other Chiaverini novels, this one was a pleasant surprise. I am writing a novel set in slave-holding South Carolina myself, so I know a great deal about this time and place; but I think Chiaverini has managed to express the tragedy of an enslaved wife and mother with particular poignancy. Joanna's story feels fresh and urgent in a way I wasn't expecting. She's a marvelous heroine. I cheered every time she found a small way to rebel. The Lost Quilter isn't perfec ...more
Love her books! My favorites are the one's about the Underground Railroad using quilts to guide the slaves north to freedom!
Apr 06, 2016 Sherry added it
This is such a good book. Once again, I saw a book at the library and the title piqued my interest, only to find that it is a series of books written by this author called the Elm Creek Quilts novels. I couldn't stop with this book. It is so well written! Although the topic is slavery, which is never fun to read about and this book has some really awful behavior on the part of slave owners...the spirit of the characters in this book are so amazing and interesting. It does weave quilt making into ...more
Beth Withers
Jul 17, 2014 Beth Withers rated it really liked it
There is a series of books by this author, and I've not read any of the others, but this one was pretty good on its own. An old quilt pulls together this story, which starts in modern times and flashes back to Joanna's story, a slave in South Carolina in 1859 into the Civil War. I liked the character very much and enjoyed her story. The story is one of survival and hope, although overall, it isn't terribly uplifting. The ending was a bit confusing for me, but that could be because I am missing s ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Scilla rated it liked it
This novel is about a young woman slave, Joanna, beginning about 1859 and going through the Civil War. It ties into the Elm Creek Quiters, because Joanna sheltered there as a runaway in 1859, and bore her first son there (after a rape from her owner which was the cause of her running away) before being captured. (Sylvia had found the story of that visit in Gerda's diary in a previous novel.) The novel gives a detailed picture of the life of one slave. Joanna was an excellent seamstress, and coul ...more
Nov 09, 2010 Jo rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this Elm Creek Quilts book. I've loved all the books so far, and for a while I wondered if this would be the one that I didn't, partly because I prefer the modern-day books in the series rather than the historical ones, and partly because the descriptions of slave treatment were so dark and brutal - it took me a while to be able to read without flinching. However, once I got used to those elements (and they lessened as the book went on) I found it a fabulous read.

May 03, 2011 Deanna rated it really liked it
The story of Joanna, the runaway slave, begun in a previous book in this series, is carried through the civil war and her eventual freedom. The story is hard to listen to -- brutal rapes (not described in body-part detail, but definitely in the terrible impact on the woman raped), beatings to near-death, and the grueling work of slaves are all described amidst the delusional and cruel behavior of slave owners who truly believed (or tried to convince themselves and others) that blacks were a sub- ...more
May 14, 2011 Janice rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: quilters, historical fiction lovers
A quick note to say that I put this on my Canadian Connection shelf because of several mentions of the underground railroad and escaping to Canada.

This book hits two of my passions - quilting and historical fiction. I chose this audiobook because of my love for quilting, not realizing that it was one of a series called Elm Creek Quilts. Every time I saw the book in my playlist, I wondered how good, or how bad, it was going to be. Was it chick lit? Was it simplistic in its writing? Why did I pick
Nov 06, 2013 Tamsen rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book about a slave named Joanna who dreams of freedom for her and her loved ones. She was a beautiful, smart, and strong woman. I loved the Historical fiction of this book but at the same time was saddened at the treatment of the slaves in the south.
From book flap:
Though Joanna's freedom proved short-lived -- she was forcibly returned by slave catchers to Josiah Chester's plantation in Virginia -- she left the Bergstrom family a most precious gift, her son. Hans and Anneke
Shannon Nakamoto
Nov 18, 2010 Shannon Nakamoto rated it it was amazing
This book was sitting on the table at work last summer with a note that said that the owner was done with it and for the next person to enjoy it. It was this or a romance novel, so I took it. I thought, "Why not?" The beginning was rather dry, but once the historical sequence began, it really picked up the pace and became a fascinating read.

This was an excellent read. The characters were so three-dimensional that you really care about them and their fate. I love it when the characters become to
Dec 18, 2009 Terrah rated it it was amazing
I've really loved these books. There's one more in the series so far, I'm sure she'll add more after that.

The series is about an older lady who returns to her historic family home after being gone 50 years. She and some new friends start a quilting camp business and she talks about her family history and memories. Some of the books are about the present time, with the quilting camp and the different people they meet and how they start up their business and make friends. And some of the books ar
Dec 27, 2010 Dlora rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, romance
The Runaway Quilt is probably one of my most favorite books in this series. It is about the use of quilts as a signal along the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves. The Lost Quilter picks up where that novel ended. Joanna, who almost made it to safety, is captured by slave runners and dragged back to her master. We see the really heartrending plight of slaves who are viewed as property and less than human: "Negroes don't feel love or sadness the way we do. They may give the appearance of tr ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
This was a marvelous historical fiction novel. I have loved the "Elm Creek Quilters" series of books. This once could easily stand alone, though having read of Joanna's earlier history in a previous book, helped bring this book, and Joanna's history, to completion. Joanna is made of the stuff we all wish we were; strength, creativity, humility, faith, loyalty, and humanity.

This story was set in pre-civil war years, and took us right up to the doorstep of it. From Joanna's, a woman slave, point
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The Lost Quilter 6 52 Mar 22, 2012 02:54PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: The Lost Quilter 1 3 Mar 08, 2012 05:43AM  
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Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Se ...more
More about Jennifer Chiaverini...

Other Books in the Series

Elm Creek Quilts (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Quilter's Apprentice (Elm Creek Quilts, #1)
  • Round Robin (Elm Creek Quilts, #2)
  • The Cross-Country Quilters (Elm Creek Quilts, #3)
  • The Runaway Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #4)
  • The Quilter's Legacy (Elm Creek Quilts, #5)
  • The Master Quilter (Elm Creek Quilts, #6)
  • The Sugar Camp Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #7)
  • The Christmas Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #8)
  • Circle of Quilters (Elm Creek Quilts, #9)
  • The Quilter's Homecoming (Elm Creek Quilts, #10)

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