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The Key on the Quilt

(The Quilt Chronicles #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  476 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Enter a historic Nebraskan prison where three women find betrayal, love, and ultimate truth. Jane Prescott is serving a ten-year sentence for murder. Can a broken spirit be healed behind bars? Matron Mamie Dawson feels called to help the wounded women in her charge. Will a guard's attentions keep her from her mission? Warden's wife Ellen Sullivan has changed her preconcept ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Barbour Books
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  476 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Charlene Intriago
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2013
Not my normal genre of book, but it was a good read. Set in a state prison in Nebraska in the 1870s, it's historical fiction with some romance and a little bit of religion thrown in. The author gives us three women whose lives intersect, the men who love and support them, plus a whole cast of supporting characters in addition to a pretty good description of life during that time. We see the good, the bad and the ugly. The new warden asks "What would you say is the purpose of the penal system in ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
While several of my GRs friends enjoyed this one, it was not my cup of tea. Some funny and cute parts but overall not to my enjoyment. But I did finish it!
Cathy Daniel
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I'm making it my favorite of 2016, though it came out in 2013. I thought it would be too sad and while it was sad at times it wasn't overwhelmingly depressing. It was touching with grace notes :) you have to read it to understand! Such a beautiful story and examples of God using ALL things for our good! Magnificent
Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: E-Book
Timeframe: 1876 –
Location: Nebraska
Jane Prescott: Convicted of murder
Rose Prescott: Jane’s daughter
Mamie Dawson: Guard on women’s floor
Minnie Dawson: Mamie’s funny twin, clothing store owner
Ian McKenna: Warden
Ellen McKenna: Warden’s wife
Max Zimmer: Doctor, Jane’s friend
Martin Underhill: Guard in love with Mamie

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So different. I don’t think I’ve read other historical fictio
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

The Key On The Quilt was an interesting book that I really enjoyed reading. I thought the characters were great and I loved how the story was set around a prison, particularly a women's prison - I don't think I've ever read a historical book with that being the main location in the story.

I wasn't surprised by much, if anything, in The Key On The Quilt and definitely saw the big reveal coming. I loved the message of sacrifice and love in this book. It was also neat how Miss Dawson had a
Victor Gentile
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Stephanie Grace Whitson in her new book, “The Key on the Quilt” Book One in The Quilt Chronicles published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. takes us to Nebraska in 1876.

From the back cover: God’s plan revealed…stitch by stitch

From a distance, the building may resemble a castle, but it’s the last place Jane Prescott, Mamie Dawson and Ellen Sullivan thought they’d be, and the last place they expected to see love grow.

Broken in spirit and wondering if God has abandoned her, Jane is serving a ten-year se
Public library copy. Interlibrary loan.

To be honest, I did not like the beginning of this book, but by midway through I was hooked to the end. Looking back, I think it was the story's dark beginning that bothered me, not the writing. I was reading a large print copy, which did not make for easy reading at first.

I really love this author! Her stories are all different, well researched, and so beautifully woven around the faith of one or more of the characters. This is never a nominal faith, but a
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
This was not one of my favorite reads. Had this book not said that it was in the late 1800's I'm not sure I would have been able to distinguish this book as historical; other than Max getting his horse at the livery. At times I though jail life came off a bit quaint. I never really connected to Jane; I did find Martin Underhill to be the most genuine and sincere and he was just a side character; a guard. This is the first Stephanie Grace Whitson book I've read and maybe it was just the whole boo ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jane Prescott is serving a 10 year sentence for a murder believed to have been committed by Jane Marquis. Jane Prescott and Jane Marquis are the same person, but she went back to using her first married name after being convicted of murdering her husband Owen Marquis.

She has a nine year old daughter, Rose Prescott, who went to live with Jane's sister Flora after the murder. Jane didn't give any reason for murdering Owen, a good man as far as anyone knew, except when he was drinking, then he beca
Rambling Readers
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Key on the Quilt is the first novel in Stephanie Grace Whitson's new series The Quilt Chronicles. As the debut book, we are introduced to a range of characters who will likely make appearances in the upcoming novels. The primary focus of The Key On the Quilt is Jane Prescott, an imprisoned mother with a tragic past. Her acquaintances in prison (inmates and free women) offer additional plots, particularly Mamie Dawson and Ellen Sullivan. The story is told from several different perspectives, ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
“The Key on the Quilt” by Stephanie Grace Whitson takes place in Dawson County Nebraska in 1876. Jane Prescott Marquis is riding home from a barn dance with her second husband Owen and her daughter Rose. She is rightfully scared to death of Owen who has abused Jane physically and verbally ever since her marriage to him after the death of her first love and husband, Thomas. Her sin this night is enjoying a dance with the kindly town doctor, Max Zimmer. Dr. Zimmer has kept Jane’s secret while tend ...more
4.5 Stars.

Jane is in prison for murder. Mamie is the Matron of the ladies ward of the prison and Ellen is the Wardens wife. The book starts off introducing us to each of these woman and slowly they come together and the story start to take shape. Jane has a daughter named Rose that she misses terribly. She struggles to adjust to prison and also when Max shows up a man from her past she deals with her feeling for him. Max was the man who danced with Jane and causes the final fight that ended in
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it

Injustices are fought in a Nebraska prison.

Jane Prescott is a woman sentenced to ten years for man slaughter, but while in jail she forms friendships and longs for the day when she will see her daughter again. Max Zimmer is the man who has never doubted Jane's innocence and will do anything to set her free.
Three women are brought together under usual situations, and face unexpected obstacles.

A jail is definitely an interesting setting for a novel, if I do say so myself. Since I've been a lon
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Key on the Quilt, written by Stephanie Grace Whitson, takes place in Nebraska in the late 1800’s. The setting is a woman’s prison and the main character is a murderer. Or is she?

Jane is serving her time after being accused of murdering her abusive husband. Her sister has taken over the care of her daughter Rose. Rose is led to believe that her mother has died but the memories of her mother and the time of the murder haunt her dreams. Meanwhile Jane sits in the prison counting the days till s
Charity U
Feb 02, 2012 added it
Shelves: favorites
Wow, did I ever enjoy this book! I’ve never read any books before about life in a women’s prison in the 1800s in Nebraska, and I’m guessing you haven’t either. This was an enlightening read! While some “enlightening” books can be quite boring, this one was riveting. I’m making it sound like an interesting text book, but it’s nowhere close to a textbook. It’s a delightful historical fiction type of book. I really enjoyed getting to know each of the main women: Mamie, Jane, and Ellen. They each ha ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Stellar for so many reasons. The unusual plot for one. And the complexity and variety of characters. And how those characters interact and develop relationships with one another. Everything about this book is impeccably written with a unique twist. And that includes romance. Steadfast comes to mind. Enduring. A depth of regard that survives far beyond the first blush of attraction. Definitely makes for a soul-satisfying read.

Fascinating historical details took on new life as the story progresse
ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ
Dearly loved this. I saw it at the library on the new release shelf and it looked intriguing. (In fact, they had 2 copies.) It takes place in Nebraska in 1887 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary's Woman's ward. It's 3 intersecting stories about 3 different women, the new warden's wife, the matron, and a woman incarerated for murdering her husband. The author did alot of research into the archaic Nebraska penal system and it's prison. I was quite surprised that she got street names in Lincoln, NE ...more
Kathleen E.
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson c2012
Historical Fiction! My very favorite genre. The Key on the Quilt is Book 1 of The Quilt Chronicles by Stephanie Grace Whitson. Visit the blog she co-authors at to follow "Footnotes: Novel Inspirations from History."

Enter a historic Nebraskan prison where three women find betrayal, love, and ultimate truth. Jane Prescott is serving a ten-year sentence for murder. Can a broken spirit be
Widow Jane Prescott soon realised she had made a mistake in marrying Owen Marquis in order to give her daughter a father. Owen was an abuser, and one night, after an innocent dance with the local doctor, the fight went too far and Jane found herself serving ten years for his manslaughter. Dr Max Zimmer feels responsible for Jane's imprisonment, as he alone knows of the injuries Jane suffered at the hands of her second husband, and he wonders if dancing with Jane at the town social might have cau ...more
Melmac MacDonald
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was immediately hooked the minute I opened this book. You could not ask for a more unique story in the most unlikely setting. Taking place in woman's prison Whitson weaves her tale delightfully. The characters all have incredible depth and you immediately feel like they are friends. I found the setting absolutely fascinating and I appreciate all the research the author does for her books. While one might think this story revolves around a quilt that could almost be deceiving. The quilt plays a ...more
Debbie Epperson
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Book Description

Enter a historic Nebraskan prison where three women find betrayal, love, and ultimate truth. Jane Prescott is serving a ten-year sentence for murder. Can a broken spirit be healed behind bars? Matron Mamie Dawson feels called to help the wounded women in her charge. Will a guard’s attentions keep her from her mission? Warden’s wife Ellen McKenna has changed her preconceptions about these female prisoners. Will it be enough to save her from a life-or-death situation? Will the cryp
Holly Renee
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
The Key on the Quilt is a unique novel that is certain to capture the history lover. Stephanie Grace Whitson has taken a unique step in Christian fiction and ventured beyond the realms of the typical story-line found in the historical genre as she explores prison life among females.

This novel introduces the reader to three protagonists. Each of these protagonists struggle with something different. One is an actual prisoner, the other is the matron, the other is the warden's wife. These protagon
Angela Bycroft
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Key on the Quilt - story of three women and their very different lives but a common connectin draws them all together - that of a women's prison.
Not the usual place to set a christian romance novel but this is no typical novel. The characters are rich and well drawn. I immediately cared deeply for Jane - incarcerated for alledgedly shooting her husband. We meet her nearly 4 years since being put in jail and she is a shadow of her former self. Quiet, introverted and barely keeping sane in a p
Catherine Richmond
You know you're in the hands of a master at historical fiction when you read a Stephanie Whitson book, but "The Key on the Quilt" goes above and beyond.
First, the unique setting: the Nebraska State Penitentiary in the 1880s. The descriptions are so detailed, I could step right into the prison and know my way around, know the routine and terminology used. The author also captures the 19th century attitude toward female prisoners, reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's "Alias Grace." The roots of my pr
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In 1875 at Nebraska State Penitentiary, three women attempt to pursue God's purpose for their lives. Jane Prescott is serving a ten-year sentence for murder. Can one caring physician help to heal her broken spirit? And will a cryptic quilt reveal the truth and bring her daughter back to her?

Matron Mamie Dawson feels called to help the wounded women in her charge. But while helping those around her, will she stubbornly keep the attentions of a kind guard at arm's length?

Warden's wife Ellen McKenn
Karen & Gerard
The Key On The Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson is a wonderful story about the unlikely friendship of three different women and how God worked in each of their lives. In this historical Christian fiction novel, Jane is serving a 10-yr. sentence in prison for murdering her second husband while her sister takes care of Jane’s little girl, Rose. All the while, Jane hopes to be reunited with her daughter one day. While in prison, Jane works on a quilt for her daughter that she trusts will be a remin ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I attended a talk this author gave less than two weeks ago. I had not read any of her books before but was interested because she writes about history, especially Nebraska history, and is interested in quilts. She says that she likes to know the story of a quilt, and if she cannot find the real story, she imagines a possible one and writes it. This novel takes place in and near Lincoln starting in 1876. It centers around a female prison inmate, the woman in charge of the female prisoners, the wi ...more
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Ruggio
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is but a Quilt

I feel this book had a strong story line and well developed characters. This is a book for anyone to read and is Christian based.
A story about a mother protecting her child and going to prison because her husband was abusive. Through faith and her experiences she suffered but also grew. She has a champion who stands by her even through rejection.
Definitely G rated so enjoy.
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Stephanie Grace Whitson's books for close to a decade now, and while I've always considered her an outstanding author, she surpassed even her high standards with this book. I challenge anyone not to be intrigued by the first line. The rest of the book is equally intriguing. Beautifully written with memorable characters and a decidedly unusual setting -- this book has everything I look for in historical fiction.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Dec 17, 2014 04:59PM  

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A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephan ...more

Other books in the series

The Quilt Chronicles (3 books)
  • The Shadow on the Quilt (The Quilt Chronicles #2)
  • The Message on the Quilt (The Quilt Chronicles #3)