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The Runaway Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
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The Runaway Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts #4)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  5,636 Ratings  ·  448 Reviews
The fourth book in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series explores a question that has long captured the imagination of quilters and historians alike: Did stationmasters of the Underground Railroad use quilts to signal to fugitive slaves?

In her first novel, The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini wove quilting lore with tales from the World War II home front. Now, follo
Published (first published 2002)
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Colleen It would be helpful to read the first two books in the series before you read The Runaway Quilt, but this book is a good read and it would be…moreIt would be helpful to read the first two books in the series before you read The Runaway Quilt, but this book is a good read and it would be entertaining without knowing the back story. However, I am afraid that you will want to know how the characters go where they are and do what they do to get a full feel for the story.(less)
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4.5 ★s
The ageing Sylvia Bergstrom Compson is prompted by a stranger’s request to look into items that have been stored in the attics at historic Elm Creek Manor for decades. She finds three very old quilts, stitched by unnamed ancestors, and a book of memoirs, written by her great grandfather’s sister Gerda. It sets out the story of how the Bergstroms arrived at Elm Creek Farm and established themselves. It also reveals, gradually, their participation in the Underground Railway, i.e. an undergro
I listened to this book on CD.

I've become hooked on the Elm Creek Quilts series (and apparently there are a LOT of them!), but I think they just keep getting better. There are the original "Elm Creek quilters" characters from the first book, in which Sarah meets Sylvia Compson and they end up starting a quilt camp business, where quilters from all walks of life come to Elm Creek and participate in classes and activities centered around quilting. In each book, the focus is on some of the "campers
Jul 07, 2008 Ariana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Civil War, slavery, mystery, and family history
I love historical novels, and I really enjoyed this one. I am planning to read the other books in the series. Sylvia, the owner of a home that predates the Civil War, discovers an old family journal in her attic. As she reads her ancestor's account, she learns that her family history is not quite what she thought it was. The journal's author explains that she feels the need to record her family's history, despite the possibility of the truth hurting her family. The protagonist learns of her fami ...more
Feb 02, 2017 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I truly enjoyed this book. I liked the way it intertwined both the present and the past, and as usual the quilts played an important part in the story and the mystery. The story gave the reader a more in depth understanding of the Bergstrom family, the founding of their thoroughbred business and the building of Elm Creek Manor. The genealogy of Sylvia's family has been an important part of this series of books, even more so in this book. The story also showed the role of quilts in the undergroun ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crafts, quilts
The 4th book in this wonderful series, the Runaway Quilt could be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series. Due to this fact, I am not going to summarize the first three books as I don't think it would help any.

Sylvia is the owner of Elm Creek Manor, a large place with grounds that plays host to a Quilter's retreat during the summer. Running the business are her good friends from the Elm Creek Quilter's circle. Since they run the business, she often spends her retirement traveling with her
Mollie Matusick
Jan 15, 2013 Mollie Matusick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I particularly like historical fiction, and I really enjoyed this. It features very strong but still vulnerable enough to be relateable female characters, which is a major draw for me. The main character, Sylvia Bergstrom, finds the journal of one of her civil war ancestors, Gerda Bergstrom, and what she reads in it makes her question what she always believed about her family. A good portion of the book is set during the Civil War as if you're seeing the events Gerda wrote about in her journal t ...more
Sylvia Bergstrom is the last of her family. An avid quilter, she has set up her family home, Elm Creek Manor in Pennsylvania, as a mecca for quilters, with her staff hosting a series of summer quilting camps. Sylvia has always taken pride in the family stories of their farm being a station on the Underground Railroad, and after a quilt from the deep south turns up with the name "The Elm Creek Quilt," she is motivated to search through her overstuffed attic for the Civil War era quilts her aunt t ...more
Nov 06, 2011 Lorrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Sylvia found her great aunt Gerda's private memoir in an old trunk in the attic. There were also a couple of quilts in the trunk. The memoir divulged so many details about the Underground Railroad. It also became apparent that Sylvia's grandfather, David, was either Anneke and Han's blood son, or he was the adopted son of Joanna and her master, Josiah Chester. The severe right wing faction found Joanna in hiding at Anneke and Hans' Bergstrom's house and tied her to a horse and ...more
May 07, 2011 Gina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far the best of the series! Each story in the Quilt series is better than the one before. This is a completely satisfying story: part mystery, part history lesson, and part geneology study.

After a speaking engagement, Sylvia is approached by one of the attendees. Margaret Alden has an old family quilt that has always been called The Elm Creek quilt, and she wants to share her information with Sylvia. This sparks Sylvia's curiosity, and she sets out to find the old quilts her Aunt Luci
I have only just started this book, but it is grating on me already. The thought of using quilts as part of the trek to freedom for slaves n the 18th century is compelling, the backstory of the characters is interesting, but the present is dull. I am having trouble liking the main character, Silvia, who is self absorbed and prone to self pity. What has bugged me the most, however, is the fact that the attendees at her quilting camp must share of themselves as if this is group therapy rather than ...more
Mary Lou
Ah, the oft- and poorly-told story of the fleeing slaves, guided on their path by the coded messages in the quilts hanging on a line outside a station on the Underground Railroad. This is not an urban legend (it would have to be a rural legend, wouldn't it?) but we so want it to be true. It has a ring of truth to it, yes?

Chiaverini does a better than average job with this concept, although the amount of time Sylvia took to read her great-aunt's antebellum journals boggled the mind. JUST SIT DOW
Ashley Lucas
Aug 18, 2010 Ashley Lucas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm embarrassed to say I've now read all of the Elm Creek Quilts novels--embarrassed because they're not great literature and because the darn things are so repetitive. The same stories get retold over and over again in a lot of the books, especially the holiday ones, but I keep reading them because I enjoy the aspects of the books that deal with quilting and because when the stories are new, they can be quite moving and at times comforting. I have to say that The Runaway Quilt was my favorite o ...more
This is a book I could not get into. I returned it to the library & relegated it to my "May Never Read" shelf. But as with the first book of the series, The Quilter's Apprentice, I could not let it rest. I kept thinking about it & wanting to know more. Finally, I picked it up at the library. I kept it 3 weeks, again loath to pick it up & finish it.

I gave it 3 stars, because once I did get through it, I did like it. I can't say it was just "ok" because I kept thinking about it. I can'
May 06, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way Ms. Chiaverini blends the story-within-a-story. I'm a huge history buff, and the Civil War era is one that I don't often study. But I enjoyed this book. The characters are still richly drawn, and I like the way there's just enough material set in the present to continue that story as well. I know that Ms. Chiaverini has written several historical novels to date, and I'm sure I will enjoy reading them, interspersed with finishing the Elm Creek set.
Jan 17, 2009 Kellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fourth in a series – intertwined with historical fiction regarding slavery and the possible use of quilts as signs/guides for the underground railroad – more of Sylvia’s family history and their abolitionist activities which Sylvia learns about from a memoir – also, tales of love gained and lost, of love that should have been and may still be – intriguing and suspenseful – quick read – at least half a dozen more in the series
Margaret Schwind
Fourth in the series, this book delves more deeply into the backstory of the Bergstrom family and the establishment of Elm Creek Manor in the years before the Civil War. A key element in the story is the apocryphal belief that quilt patterns were used to guide runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad, and while that has never been conclusively proven, it does move the story along.
Nov 10, 2008 Derla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: audio-books
Audio book -- CD

Looks like it is going to be an interesting book.

This was very interesting to listen to. And Christina Moore had just the right voice and accent to be the narrator. It had quite a surprise ending.
Jan 22, 2016 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little slower for me to get into, but by the second chapter I was hooked.
Jan 30, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
By FAR the best in the series so far. I became so engrossed in Gerda's story, I forgot I was reading a story within a story. I absolutely loved this book.
Susan T. T.
Feb 13, 2017 Susan T. T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another enjoyable story loaded with history and interesting characters. The list of quilts inspires the reader to search for them to see the variations available adding another dimension to the read.
Mar 19, 2017 Tinadeveny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 4th in the series and so far my favorite. Pre Civil War in PA. Abolishonists v. Pro slavery plus new immigrants to the US. The history and story are entwined withe the quilts. Looking forward to #5.
Mar 15, 2017 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you quilt (I don't but would like to learn) or are a student of history, this book is for you. Chiaverini writes well, and this is a compelling story that certainly could be true.
Mar 09, 2017 Renata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really enjoying this series as the author is a wonderful storyteller!
Oct 11, 2016 Dyana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this 4th in the series to be the best so far. It is a blend of historical and contemporary fiction centering on the belief that quilts hanging on clotheslines could have been signals or guides for runaway slaves that were smuggled in the Underground Railroad on their flight to Canada.

Sylvia Compson has retired from her everyday duties at the quilt camp she has established at Elm Creek Manor. After a speaking engagement at Silver Lake Quilters Guild in South Carolina, a member named Marg
This book was interesting, a good time passer. Just barely a four, since the writing isn't anything special. I liked the historical details and the way that the author honoured the idea of quilts being used as signals on the Underground Railway, an idea for which there seems to be no proof. The character is Sylvia is attractive because she can be cranky and cantankerous at times. A "real life" character.
Aug 27, 2007 Nitrorockets rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: easy-read, fiction
This book was hard for me to put down. I enjoyed reading this so much. This is the fourth book in the Elm Creek Quilts series, yes this is the first one I have read, and yes I am terrible for going out of sequence. Regardless this book was very good. It made me think and it was fun.

The main character, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, returns to the family homestead, Elk Creek Manor after her sister Claudia's death. The homestead was a grand old house located near a creek nestled in a small farming comm

Judy brought me the first Elm Creek Quilters novel and I was kind of disgusted with it in the beginning, but the story turned gripping and I couldn't help myself. I wound up liking it.

This has been the story with every single freakin' Elm Creek Quilts book I've read consequently, and number four was no different. I approached it with a "Here we go again" attitude, and yet couldn't help myself from reading it.

In this novel, Sylvia Compson is approached at a lecture by a woman who has an
Jan 04, 2010 Rebekah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Next in the Elm Creek Quilt series, The Runaway Quilt Jennifer Chiaverini takes us back to before the Civil War to try and understand how a quilt with her family farm’s picture could have ended up on a quilt in South Carolina. It also encourages her to track down the veracity of some family stories passed down about their place in the Underground railroad.
I loved the idea of finding a memoir from that era and discovering the good and bad about your ancestors. Though I think that some parts of t
I never imagined that I could get so caught up in a series of books that extols the virtue of quilting. The characters are so likable that I can't wait to find out what happens to them next.

In this book, Sylvia Compson desires to dig into her family history. After she delivers a lecture in the Southern United States, a woman approaches her with a very old quilt that has been in her family for generations. It's named "The Elm Creek Quilt." Another of its titles is "The Runaway Quilt." Alarmed tha
Jan 25, 2013 Sorcha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
In the fourth novel of the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, Sylvia Compson searches for evidence of her ancestors' courageous involvement in the Underground Railroad.

Number 4 in the series and the Elm Creek Quilters is up and running as a business. This book focuses on Sylvia, who finds a diary written just before the Civil War, along with several old and partially damaged quilts.

It is written by Gerda, who came over from Germany with her brother to found the house and business that Sylvia and h
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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 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)
  • The New Year's Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #11)

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