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The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

March 7, 2013

I have just finished The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini, it was a good read, it kept me entertained and certainly kept me reading because I was desperate to know what happened next. The story is about a small town in the north of America at the outbreak of the civil war. The book begins with some of the men going off to war, and then follows the women left behind. The book sometimes goes back to the men, in battle, but the focus is on the women. There are some good topics covered here, the racism black men faced when trying to enlist, despite doing the right thing for their country, and the racism they faced after the war. Slavery is also covered, and those who tried to abolish it. But, most of all, the civil war is covered, and the how the women of this particular town helped their men, even though they were having many troubles of their own.

The women of Elm Creek, say their goodbyes to their men, and then decide to help them by raising money to send goods to them and to others. Their focus is on making quilts, auctioning them, holding events and selling quilt patterns. One quilt in particular features in the story, which is that of a wife called Dorothea, she gives her quilt to her husband, for him to take it to war with him.

This book is a good read, and for someone like me, who has no knowledge of the American Civil War (I’m British, don’t hate me!), it provides some really interesting information.

Unfortunately, I do have some issues with this book. I feel that there are a few too many characters, at times I found it hard to keep up. I was confusing women with women, and also confusing their husbands. When one husband died, I thought it was another woman’s husband. Although I think I may have confused myself with those last few sentences! Too many husbands…

My other issue with this book is that it seems to start with the emphasis on Dorothea, and then ends with the emphasis on Gerda, a spinster who is in love with another woman’s husband. This confuses matters, and annoyed me slightly because I would have preferred to stay with one woman. My final issue is with the epilogue; the women’s stories are not finished with the book, and so she writes about them a couple of years into the future and how their lives turned out. I do like finding out about the lives of the characters in books after I have finished reading, but in this case, I would have preferred the book to end with this, and not to finish so abruptly.

All in all, I did enjoy the content of the book; I just feel it could have been written a bit better with a better style. So, I would recommend reading it for the content.

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