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Elm Creek Quilts #5

The Quilter's Legacy

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Resolving to locate her mother's heirloom quilts after so many years, Sylvia Compson embarks on a cross-country investigation of antique shops, quilt museums, and other, more unexpected places, where offers of assistance are not always what they seem. And as Sylvia recovers some of the missing quilts and accepts others as lost forever, she reflects on the woman her mother was and mourns the woman she never knew.   With heartfelt honesty, The Quilter's Legacy reveals the tenuous connections that bind generations and celebrates the love that sustains them.

310 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Jennifer Chiaverini

79 books3,948 followers
Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-three novels, including acclaimed historical fiction and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. She has also written seven quilt pattern books inspired by her novels. 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 Sentinel writes, "In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years."

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5 stars
2,430 (36%)
4 stars
2,796 (41%)
3 stars
1,330 (19%)
2 stars
120 (1%)
1 star
24 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 342 reviews
Profile Image for Chris.
225 reviews9 followers
November 7, 2010
I continue to really enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt series. I'm not a quilter, but the characters are so engaging and I'm really enjoying the family history aspect the last two books have brought in. Going back and forth between present day and past - and letting the reader in on more secrets than the present-day characters know is a clever device that makes you want to tell Sylvia what you know as she tries to piece together the elements of her history. I'm moving on to "The Master Quilter."
Profile Image for Trisha Smith.
248 reviews14 followers
February 21, 2016
Original review posted here: http://onceuponatime-bookblog.blogspo...

The fifth novel in Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt series focus's on Sylvia's quest to find five of her mother's cherished quilts. Sylvia's mother died when she was a child and Slyvia has fond memories of learning how to quilt and making her own quilts. After the estate feel into debt, Sylvia's sister sold the quilts to pay for living expenses. After learning of this, Slyvia journeys across the country with her finance, Andrew, to try to find the lost quilts. The story was a little farfetched (to say the least), but I loved the historical details and the story. Slyvia's mother was such an interesting character and I enjoyed learning more about her life and how she came to live at Elm Creek Manor.
36 reviews
February 15, 2015
The best one of this series so far. I like how she combines history, genealogy, and quilting along with the story.
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,957 reviews
April 4, 2012
I loved the juxtaposition of the two stories of Eleanor and Sylvia. Sylvia is trying in her older years to track down some of her mother's special quilts that her sister sold. Meanwhile Eleanor is telling the story of her early young adult life and the making of the special quilts. It was quite interesting to see the family from both perspectives. Well written story that I very much enjoyed.
Profile Image for Toni Wyatt.
Author 5 books241 followers
January 24, 2023
Another great edition to the Elm Creek Quilt series. This one starts with Sylvia, the owner of Elm Creek Manor, finally saying ‘yes’ to her longtime friend, Andrew.

As she begins to look for her mother’s wedding quilt, she finds that her sister had sold them all in a time of desperation. Sylvia’s friends try to help her track them down.

As this is happening, we go back in time to the late 1800s, and we learn the story behind each of the missing quilts and about, Eleanor, Sylvia’s mother.

This book is rich in characters and heartfelt stories. It is woven together with perfection. It is truly a beautiful read, and one I very much enjoyed.

5 stars
Profile Image for Candy.
1,392 reviews17 followers
June 2, 2021
I used the family tree diagram in the front of the book frequently. The topic of finding missing quilts is explored, and we learn about Sylvia's family.
I really like this series.
798 reviews17 followers
June 9, 2013
Resolving to locate her mother's heirloom quilts after so many years, Sylvia Compson embarks on a cross-country investigation of antique shops, quilt museums, and other, more unexpected places, where offers of assistance are not always what they seem. And as Sylvia recovers some of the missing quilts and accepts others as lost forever, she reflects on the woman her mother was and mourns the woman she never knew.

Following on shortly after book #4 (the Runaway Quilt), this continues to focus on Sylvia and her investigating her family's past. Sylvia and Andrew are now engaged, and Sylvia is shocked and disappointed to find that her estranged sister sold off all their mother's quilts before she died. In a desire to have her mother's wedding quilt for when she and Andrew get married, she starts searching for them to mixed success. The book interweaves chapters between Sylvia and her mother, a supposedly sickly woman who elopes with one of the Bergstrom men.

Once again this book combines a lot about Quilt history and the difficulty attributing quilts to specific people (especially when the pattern has been published in a magazine and the quilter doesn't name and date the quilt). Family relations continue to run through the book, especially of those between mothers and daughters.

Some threads are left open for the subsequent books. One thing that I wasnt convinced by was Andrew's children's objections to the marriage - Amy in particular seemed to object to it over much on what seems to be a fairly flimsy excuse - Sylvia being 7 years older than their father and already having had an excuse, they object cos they dont "want her to be a burden when she gets sick again".
Profile Image for Shannon White.
60 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2021
I love how these books weave the family history with historical events as ways of allowing the reader to have context of the passage of time. This story had some great feminist themes and also some personal tragedies.

One part of reading this book that may not have resonated prior to recent events, for me, was the framing of the Spanish Flu in context of the story. As we are just coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic (June 2021 is when I discovered this book) it allowed me to reflect on how we truly will repeat things we do not fully understand from our collective histories.

As a quilter - I loved the missing quilt search and of course references to the various blocks, designs, real life designers and various techniques.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,416 followers
August 12, 2012
Chiaverini has a fertile imagination and she makes up a backstory for Sylvia Compton with something like love. Sylvia is getting a little better in interpersonal relations, now that she is ready to marry (and does, during the course of this story) but she occasionally goes off the rails and says exactly what she thinks. At her age, she should be entitled to this, but it is rather hard to take, regardless.

The quilts (twelve stitches to the inch!) sound lovely, especially the lilac and elm. Even the seven stitches to the inch that Sylvia is able to produce sound like a typo. What kind of needles yield that kind of stitch length? I might get five on a good day.
Profile Image for BellaGBear.
574 reviews52 followers
June 12, 2019

The books switch perspective between contemporary time and history. One part is the life of the Elm Creek Quilters now, and the other part tells the story of Sylvia’s family from the moment they moved to Waterford halfway the 19th century. This particular book focuses on the history of her mother, called Eleanor, who grew up in New York around the turn of the 20th century. Eleanor has a heart condition which the doctors fear will lead to an early death. Consequently, her whole family treats her as a dying small bird and the only one who treats her as a normal person is Frederick Bergstrom who sells horses to her father. Frederick harbours a secret love for Eleanor. When Eleanor has to flee her family home in New York to avoid a forced marriage he offers to take her to Waterford. Eleanor agrees and they get married soon after.


What I like most in this series is the changing perspective between the contemporary and historical part of the story. Each book in the series focuses on a particular member of the Bergstrom family, so each book gives you new clues to piece together their complete family history. This also makes me interested in the other books in the series, which is a smart move by Chiaverini. Both the contemporary and historical perspective are told from the perspective of a woman. Its focus is on how the women find a place for themselves in the world and happiness at whatever time they are living. It is interesting to read how historical events and times impact that. However, some of the historical parts of the book felt unrealistic to me. The Bergstrom family seems to be caught up in ALL major events in American history. Be it the abolition movement, the Titanic, the Spanish flu or the Second World War. It was especially unrealistic because the Bergstrom family are somehow always on the ‘right side’ of history. I get that Chiaverini wants to use the family to write about American history, but I think she is too ambitious.

Despite these shortcomings, I thoroughly loved this book. I cared about the characters, and it was interesting to read about their lives, despite it being unrealistic at times. Focusing on the female perspective and quilts also adds something very wholesome to the books. Quilts are often associated with groups of women working on them in companionship. This is combined with a quiet kind of freedom because through a quilt a woman has always been able to express and explore her individual taste and personality. This is done in solidarity with other women. In these books the same kind of solidarity and warm feelings are present. This makes the books a perfect feel-good read when you need a pick-me-up.

This is only part of the review. Read the full review at Bookworms United
Profile Image for Jo Anne.
737 reviews7 followers
February 20, 2023
Sometimes the Elm Creek Quilts books are hit or miss. I personally prefer the stories that take place in recent times, at the quilt camp and not the ones that go back in time to Sylvia's time as a child. However, this one, #5, was much better, maybe because the flashbacks were about Sylvia's gentle mother Eleanor, and the horrible life she endured with her selfish and morally ugly parents.
The Quilter's Legacy starts with Sylvia searching the attic for her mother's old quilts, that Sylvia remembers using as a child. Sadly, Agnes tells her Claudia sold them all, when she and her good-for-nothing husband ran the property into the ground. Heartbroken, Sylvia says she will search for them and Summer helps by creating a web page that can report lost or stolen quilts.
Beside wanting to hunt down the sold quilts, Sylvia is faced with another dilemma--Andrew's grown son and daughter, especially his daughter, Amy, are against his marriage to Sylvia, partly because Sylvia is a few years older than Andrew AND had suffered a stroke a while back. Amy thinks Sylvia will break Andrew's heart when she dies before him. Yes, another horrible person for us all to hate, on top of Claudia, and now Sylvia's mother's rotten parents.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book although since it was on Kindle, there were no pictures of the quilts mentioned, which I would have enjoyed. Other than that, I couldn't put it down and actually was up until 5 am reading.
Profile Image for Lindsay InAustin.
104 reviews2 followers
December 27, 2022
As a quilter and a former long time resident of Central PA, I love this series of books. The characters are beautifully crafted, and the settings are so accurately described. But this one was particularly poignant. This book, published in 2003, includes the time the Spanish flu ravaged the world, including Pennsylvania. The townspeople in the story abided by mask rules and the shutdown of gathering places initially and escaped any infections for awhile but soon abandoned masks, reopened churches against rules, and violated quarantine… and the deaths piled up. They experimented with homemade recipes ( some quite dangerous) as “cures.” And more died. It was heartbreaking to read a book written and published so long before COVID, and see the same behavior…and the same deadly consequences. Normally, these books are wonderful escapes… this one was in large part. But reading about what people could have learned from but did not was a chilling reminder of our failure to learn from history. Highly recommend this boo and the rest of the series but this one may strike too close to home for many.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane Ferbrache.
1,714 reviews21 followers
April 19, 2019
Sylvia is searching for information about the wherabouts of her mother's quilts, so she and Andrew (with some help from Summer) head out on a quest. Meanwhile, they hit the road to let Andrew's family know about their plan to marry.

I love the way Chiaverini alternates the story of Eleanor (Sylvia's mother) with the present day story of Sylvia's search for the quilts and Andrew's conflict with his children. The historical story is filled with tales that fill in the Bergstrom history and connect the reader with Sylvia's ancestors, and the current story is one many people can identify with -- the difficulties involved when adult children don't see eye-to-eye with their elderly parents.

If you are a fan of the series, this is a "must read" since it fills in so many of the blanks in Sylvia's past. Plus....SPOILER --

who doesn't want to see Andrew & Sylvia finally get married?
Profile Image for kmm1985.
227 reviews
March 31, 2020
I loved this addition to the Elm Creek Quilts series... I have read many of them, but somehow missed this one (I have been reading them in the order I am able to check them out from the local public library). It was wonderful to learn the story of Sylvia's mother, Eleanor, her story, and how the quilt bug was introduced to the family.

The uncanny, eerie thing is that I read this book in the middle of our state's lockdown during COVID-19 sequestering. I had picked up the book, events began to transpire, I pulled it off my pile and began to read. Imagine my SHOCK when I hit the chapter about the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Uncanny, but then again, there are no coincidences in God!

Working my way through all of J Chiaverini's books, one at a time...
Profile Image for Joan.
422 reviews11 followers
July 15, 2020
The Quilter's legacy is #4 in the Elm Creek Quilts novels written by Jennifer Chiaverini. I gave it a 4 star rating but if I could I would give it a 4 1/2. In this series there is always a running story about a quilt or a quilt camp but that is only a small part of the storylines. The author says that people who assume her books are only about quilts obviously have not read them. But the quilts are important to the character development. This novel tells the stories of the Spanish flu, women's rights and the love of family as well as a a long standing love affair of the heart. The author digs into history so her novels include many accurate details of the timeline in which the story is written. It is well written, interesting and is a very good read.
74 reviews6 followers
July 20, 2021
Present day continues with Sylvia Compson, master quilter and owner of Elm Creek Manor, determined to locate her mother, Eleanor Lockwood Bergstrom's, heirloom quilts after so many years. After searching all over the Manor's attic, with none to be found, she travels cross country with her beloved, Andrew at the driver's seat... investigating antique quilt shops, quilt museums, following every lead they hear of.
There are many flashbacks and generational stories from 1899 through 1927 that tell us of many family secrets lost through the years. In my opinion, this may be one of the best in this series so far, I guess because I am becoming so attached to the characters.
Written as the fifth in series, but I think it is better read after The Union Quilters.
Profile Image for MJ.
162 reviews37 followers
February 16, 2023
Beautifully written novel with an intriguing storyline. The description of the fabrics, quilt patterns, and stitching techniques made the story become a richer narrative that engaged my imagination so completely that I felt as if I was holding the quilts in my hands. The interwoven storylines from Sylvia and Elenor were done in such a way that I didn't feel the jarring confusion that often accompanies books that have multiple time periods particularly when they are centuries apart. Although this is the first book I have read in the Elm Creek Quilts series I didn't feel at all like I was missing information that I needed to follow the story. I'm truly looking forward to reading more from this series.
Profile Image for Andrea Dowd.
583 reviews5 followers
November 14, 2017
After finishing "The Quilter's Legacy", I couldn't quite put my finger on why I didn't connect with the story or even care that much about any of the characters. Sylvia's hunt for her mother's quilts is a very sad and unfulfilling search, wrapped around the story of her mother's life, which is also sad and unfulfilling. Intertwined with those stories are the stories of how families can disappoint and kick those loved ones to the curb.

All in all, this book is sad. And though it ends with a wedding, a brochure that unravels a mystery that is half-baked, it still ends with estranged families. Unless you want to wrap up your Elm Creek series, this is a skip.
Profile Image for Beverly.
3,198 reviews19 followers
March 27, 2018
Another offering in the Elm Creek Quilts series. These are quick, cozy reads but what I really enjoy about them is how the author not only has the main thread of the people who live at Elm Creek Manor but also includes the historical details that were happening at the times of their memories. In this particular story we discover that Sylvia's aunt perished on board the Titanic. The main story line here is about Sylvia remarrying and trying to track down her mother's handmade quilts that had been sold by her sister. The book alternates between the present and the past so that the reader is able to learn quite a bit about Sylvia's mother and her own childhood. A lovely read.
Profile Image for Julie Cave.
Author 1 book1 follower
January 29, 2019
I think I am hooked on this series! Each title is so different but all integrate quilts and quilters and of course a bit of conflict into the storyline. This one centered on several missing antique quilts and a search across America to find them, and if possible return them to their original owner's family. In this particular title, Sylvia, owner of the Elm Creek Quilts manor, is the main character in search of her Mother's quilts, with the assistance of her main love, Andrew. Along the way, a major conflict turns up when his two adult children, adamantly opposed to his marrying Sylvia, try and stop an upcoming wedding.
Profile Image for Gwen.
153 reviews
July 15, 2021
I read The Quilter's Apprentice years ago and found this title in the same series while on vacation. I was surprised by the historical fiction alternating chapters but loved how the author so expertly wove the story lines together revolving around four very special quilts. As sometimes happens in stories with many characters, or characters with large families, I had a hard time keeping who was who straight. I often wish the author had drawn a map or family tree. It was an enjoyable read. My favorite quote: "She was the warp and he the weft of their married life, two souls who had chosen each other, not knowing the pattern their lives would form."
Profile Image for Emily Chwazik.
6 reviews
October 29, 2020
Cute fictional read about a woman pursuing her late mother’s lost quilt heirlooms. It was hard to get into at first (I’m pretty sure this book is a continued series that I jumped in the middle of) but I really enjoyed chapters told from the mother’s POV and getting into quilting. Three stars for a decent read but it wasn’t very captivating and it was hard to follow storylines as the book would jump from timeline to timeline. Remember to label your quilts and leave your intentions for them in your will!
Profile Image for Jennifer Riddle.
453 reviews
October 13, 2017
I like this series and enjoyed this book. I am bothered, however, by an inconsistency around page 247. It's minor in the grand scheme of things but it proved to be distracting for the rest of the book. I even made my son read it to make sure I wasn't misreading. I still want to know: were they in a motor home or minivan? Two people can not be in two different vehicles together simultaneously.
Profile Image for Barbara.
792 reviews8 followers
November 1, 2017
My sister-in-law picked up The Quilter’s Legacy by Jennifer Chiaverini for me from her local library book sale. She knows I love quilting and assumed that I would enjoy the book, which I did. I loved all of the details about quilts that were woven throughout the story. I also enjoyed the period details from the early 1900s that were included. It was an easy, relaxing read and I was sorry when it was over. Fortunately, I have another book from the series ready to read.
Profile Image for Rachel.
256 reviews1 follower
June 1, 2018
Have been reading all of this series in order. I feel like I really know these characters personally, I guess maybe since I have so much time invested. In this case, although I read it cover to cover in just a couple of days, it didn't have quite the impact of the previous ones that I have read. It won't stop me from continuing on... 5 down, 15 to go. I read these in between more serious books on heavier topics.
40 reviews
January 4, 2021
Just happened upon this series of books by Jennifer Chiaverini while I was at the library. Since I am currently involved in quilt making, I thought it would be a fun read. I found Sylvia's and Andrew's character a little too "perfect" to be believable; however, I really liked Eleanor and Fred's character and personalities. The story was good and I will go on to read another book of this series.
Profile Image for Libby.
838 reviews33 followers
June 24, 2021
While I’m not a quilter myself, I’ve loved this whole series. Each one’s backstory brings some historical aspect to light. This one was the 1917 Spanish flu epidemic as well as mentioning the fight to develop unions to protect workers as well as a bit of the suffrage movement. Told in a Now and then format it’s not necessary to read the whole series but you will get more out of the series reading it this way.
Profile Image for Anna Pfeil.
12 reviews
February 19, 2019
I enjoyed reading this book as I have enjoyed reading the others in the series. Jennifer Chiaverini skillfully moved me back to an earlier time with Elinor's story and at the same time keeping me focused on the present day with the continuing story of Sylvia and Andrew. I look forward to reading more books in the series.
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,259 reviews
May 5, 2019
I am entranced by all of the Elm Creek Quilt books. I have read several books further into this series and was concerned that dipping back to the 5th installment might be somewhat confusing. But the author writes in such a way that reading books out of order does nothing to dim the enjoyment of the story line.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 342 reviews

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