Book reviews and random ramblings about literary and historical matters.
Friday, August 3, 2012
What I've Read This Week
What I've Read This Week . . .
The Lost Quilter (an Elm Creek Quilts novel) by Jennifer Chiaverini --Historical Fiction
When we last saw Joanna in The Runaway Quilt, she was being dragged away by slave traders just days away from her flight to Canada. Now in present time, Sylvia uncovers some evidence that sheds light on what happened to Joanna. What follows is Joanna's story from early childhood until adulthood. Fiercely independent and proud, Joanna refuses to be completely servile. She goes from job to job in the Big House and the fields until she's chosen to be the family seamstress. The cook, Ruth, tried her hardest to protect Joanna but trouble caught up to her and forced her to run. After her stay with the Bergstroms, Joanna's desire to be free burned even brighter despite being sold back into slavery and sent to South Carolina. Through the turmoil of the antebellum years and Civil War, Joanna never stops longing for freedom or thinking of the son who is lost to her. She experiences loss, love and all the heartbreak of slavery while stitching her secret map North into her quilt. This is an incredibly well-researched book. I took a graduate seminar on slavery and I can track some of the source material the author must have used for research. The story is light on plot aside from the utter misery of being a slave and when the plot does come, it seems a bit far fetched and the ending is a bit rushed. Sylvia never really does get the answers to her questions which really bothers me. I don't know why the author chose to frame the historical story with the present. The epilogue would have been fine on it's own. The epilogue is fascinating and I have to find out if it's based on something real. Even without a traditional plot, I found this book very engrossing. I wanted to know what happened to Joanna but yet I had to keep putting the book down because it was just so sad. That being said, I greatly admire Joanna. So she so strong and so brave. I can not even imagine what it must have been like to be a slave and I can't say how I'd deal with it but I know there were many real life Joannas who were strong and survive. The book satisfied my curiosity about what happened to Joanna after the Runaway Quilt. I recommend this book to readers who read The Runaway Quilt and want to know what happened to Joanna and also to those who like to read novels about slavery. It stands alone without having read The Runaway Quilt though it helps if you have read it. This is another great entry to the Elm Creek Quilts series.