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The Union Quilters

(Elm Creek Quilts #17)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,095 ratings  ·  453 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of the Elm Creek Quilts series joins the Dutton list with a Civil War-era tale of love and sacrifice behind Union lines.

With The Union Quilters, Chiaverini delivers a powerful story of a remarkable group of women coping with changing roles and the extraordinary experiences of the Civil War.

In 1862 Water's Ford, Pennsylvania, aboli
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Dutton (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,095 ratings  ·  453 reviews

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Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Right away The Union Quilters struck me as more of a stand alone historical fiction novel then an Elm Creek Quilts novel. Since I love historical fiction this is just fine (and lovely, and perfect) by me! If anything I would compare this book to The Sugar Camp Quilt by Chiaverini (hands down my favourite book in the series) as it wasn’t quite as light as the other Elm Creek Quilts books. The actual quilting theme was secondary in this novel and I found that the story really was focused upon the ...more
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction particularly the Civil War era
This is definitely one of the better Elm Creek Quilters books although totally set in the past with no mention of Sylvia, Sarah and the other present day quilters.

I have read some of the other reviewers who thought that the descriptions of the battles, conditions in the field hospitals and other aspects of the war were too harshly portrayed. Not at all. Compared to what it probably really was like this was portrayed as a cake walk. Abraham Lincoln remarks, "If there is a place worse than hell,
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the talking book from the New Mexico Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I'm so blessed by this program. I've always enjoyed books by this author and was delighted by this one as well. The characters are rich and aptly depicted. The history lesson was excellent. It is set during the Civil War. As I listened my husband often remarked how realistic this was. The center of the story is the ladies of the sewing circle and their families and friends. As always I look forwa ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
In 1862 Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania is a busy place. Most of the men are off to war to fight for the Union. The woman are rallying to support the cause. They are holding fundraisers, sending bandages, food and supplies. They are using their needles to make quilts to send to hospitals. The also create a very special quilt that will reach out well beyond Water’s Ford.

Gerda Bergstrom takes on Southern sympathizers in the pages of the local newspaper. Anneke Bergstrom deals with her husband pacifist
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-challenge
Finally finished! So much of this book is dry as dust. Reads like a recitation on the civil war; too much "tell me" with not enough "show me" especially with the characters. I really only found a few paragraphs where I could tell what the character was truly feeling.

"But she could not overcome the dull lethargy that had settled upon her in the wake of -- death. (avoiding a spoiler) She could not bear to hear again how her husband was a hero, that he had died for a noble cause, and that her own s
Feb 15, 2012 added it
Handicrafts are great. Sadly they are becoming lost arts and people move to things like digital design. But I am one of the people keeping them alive by practicing them. Another way that they are being kept alive is by the serge of popular novels that center around knitting clubs and quilters. We've all spotted them in book stores and at libraries and I've been reading a few that have been catching my eye. Most of them are light and fluffy, like Harlequin but if you trade sex for needlework. And ...more
Mollie Matusick
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Collins
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry but this story is just not that interesting. I thought I would enjoy it because I am a quilter. But it seems more geared to a civil war history buff. There were so many dates mentioned and news type information rather than story line.
I had to read the first chapter twice to get all the characters straight in my head. There were more than a dozen adult characters mentioned in the first chapter and then the children. It was just too much.
I also felt that the character, Gerda is unlike
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Jennifer Chiaverini is definitely moving onto new ground - exploring different characters - Sylvia Compton's progenitors, back at the time of the Civil War. I like character studies and usually find myself very drawn to her characters. However, this book spends way too much time discussing military strategy and gives you plenty of potent images of the horror of war. And for the first time ever in Chiaverini's books, I didn't find her characters very likable. They were certainly flawed in pretty ...more
Laura Ballard
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
When I am in the mood for something fast and easy, I love to catch up on the Elm Creek Quilts series. THis one was great in that I had just ready another Civil War story. Someday I will learn to quilt .....
Ann Amadori
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
I really liked parts of this story but some of the military parts seemed to drag. The one thing that annoyed me was the continual description of Jonathan's integrity. I did not find his treatment of his wife and Gerda honorable at all.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
This is the only book in the Elm Creek series that I haven't especially liked. It was confusing to start out since it had been awhile since I had read any of the other books that were about Gerda, Hans and Anneka so I had a hard time remembering who all the other characters were. There was also a ton of information about the Civil War. It was interesting to read some of the very vivid details but I just wasn't expecting this to read so much like a history book. I also found myself really disliki ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
In this book The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini, the author gives a perspective of the Civil War from the perspective of a group of women and their menfolk, all residents of the small community of Water's Ford, Pennsylvania. Although the accounts of experiences in battles and imprisonment are interesting, I found the author's depiction of hte individual experiences fascinating. She describes through the experiences of a black man and his family the obstacles and prejudices that freeborn b ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book had me poking my Civil War-buff husband constantly, asking him if the details, settings and attitudes *really* happened. Although I am just as much of a history nut as he is, his grasp of this era is beyond me. So he was surprised at how this "fiction" novel could set up these real events without making them seem just convenient plot devices--a criticism that generally steers him away from historical fiction in general, and makes *me* wish I'd just read a good nonfiction treatment of t ...more
Ariel Uppstrom
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
I've been on a Civil War kick and thought this would fit right in. The story followed a few members of quilting circle and their husbands and family during the Civil War. This unique group of women felt empowered to help the men of their down when the joined up by sewing quilts, knitting socks, and participating in fundraisers. Eventually, their endeavors led them to create a hall that they were able to maintain in their own name instead of it being overtaken by the all male town council. One of ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: quilting
As a quilter I have enjoyed Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilters novels which revolve around a group of women who are drawn to each other because of their love of quilting and willingness to help others with quilting and with life’s challenges. The books are set in beautiful rural Pennsylvania and the original books sometimes refer to the history of the area. Along the way Jennifer Chiaverini spends more time writing about quilters in the past rather than the original group of women. The Uni ...more
Though I have read a few other books written by this author, I was very dissapointed with this one. As the sequal book to "The Sugar Camp Quilt", I was looking forward to the continuation of the story. However, not only did she she sort of switch main characters and skip about 12 years forward from the last book, but the content was more mature than my preference; a short but ill-liked marital scenaro, and a slave child posed as an illegitement child fathered by a married man and the brother of ...more
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it
I decided to read this book because I like the Elm Creek Quilts series. And most of the time, I prefer if the story sticks more to quilting than this one did. Also, I have never enjoyed anything about the Civil War time period. I don't like reading about it in fiction or non-fiction and, except for Gone with the Wind, don't like movies about it. This book, while not enough to overcome a lifetime aversion, was the first book about this time period I have enjoyed. It brought home how much people s ...more
Carol S.
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you love quilting as much as I do, you will love reading Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilt Series of novels. I've read most of her books and enjoyed them all. The Union Quilters is a second story focused on the Civil War. The first of this historical time period is "The Runaway Quilt". While the women work, hope, and pray at home, the men they love confront loneliness, boredom, and harrowing danger on the bloody battlefields of Virginia ad Pennsylvania. Anxious for news the women share pr ...more
Yana Weinstein-Jones
I am reading this aloud for a listening service (radio).
This book was a nice wrap up of the "past" part of the series.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another great historical installment of the Elm Creek Quilters series.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read several of the books in this series, but out of order. I find that by the end you have enough information to piece together the story (OK, yes, pun is a series about quiliting!) and enjoy them each as a stand alone story. This story has so many social themes "pieced" within the story: vote for women, women's right, vote for everyone (no matter the color or gender), treatment of prisoners of war that it keeps you interested in the story beyond the main theme of the civil ...more
Jane Metcalf
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fictionalized history, a favorite, with a cast of strong women reveal what day to day life could have been like during the Civil War. Set in a small Pennsylvania farming community, these women
shared a love of quilting and used this talent, along with intelligence and skills, to raise money to support Union war efforts and families sufferong losses. The author quoted President Lincoln on the cover page recognizing that "amongst these new manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these
Diane  Sugars
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Elm Creek Quilts book read! I am slowly making my way through this series, not in any order, but I thoroughly enjoy this series! Jennifer Chiaverini is one of my very favorite authors and I really like her style of writing. The Union Quilters was a very interesting story and full of complex storylines! I know that they say, you can't judge a book by it's cover, but the cover on this book is stunning and the story is as well!
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book better than I thought I would. The characters are very well-developed and it was not at all predictable. It was an interesting look at the lives of women in a small Pennsylvania town during the Civil War with several passages depicting their men's experiences in battle (Gettysburg and Petersburg).
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book however the ending was abrupt. Almost like the author got tired of writing it. Action, action, bang, epilogue. Luckily the epilogue managed to wrap up most of the loose ends. Maybe some of the other books address some of the ends left hanging. Guess I shall read them to find out.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As usual, I love this book in the Elm Creek Quilts series! I left inspired to perhaps make the quilt, The Loyal Union Sampler. This book discussed such situations as pacifism, the various difficult decisions made by both men and women and the consequences they had, as well as women putting their differences aside for the sake of supporting their men at war. Great read!
Catherine Symchych
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I reread this book because I’m finishing the associated quilt and wanted to get back to the inspiration for the project. I’m glad I did. Although there were too many characters for me to get fully invested in their lives, the descriptions of the battles and their aftermath is powerful, as are the emotions and loyalties that aren’t as simple as you’d think
Suzanne Mundy
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is book #17 in the Elm Creek Quilt series. This focuses on the Civil War and how it affected this Pennsylvania community. Quilts were made to earn money to support the Union troops. I like the series very much and look forward to reading more of the books.
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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

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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