Published: 2000
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 304

From the author’s website:

ROUND ROBIN reunites readers with the Elm Creek Quilters in this poignant and heartwarming follow-up to The Quilter’s Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini’s acclaimed debut novel. The Elm Creek Quilters have begun a round robin, a quilt created by sewing concentric patchwork to a central block as it is passed around a circle of friends. Led by Sarah McClure, who came to Waterford, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Matt, a few years ago, the project is to be their gift to their beloved fellow quilter Sylvia Compson. But like the most delicate cross-stitch, their lives are held together by the most tenuous threads of happiness … and they can unravel.As each woman confronts a personal crisis, a painful truth, or a life-changing choice, the quilt serves as a symbol of the complex and enduring bonds between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. In weaving together the harmonious, disparate pieces of their crazy-quilt lives, the Elm Creek Quilters come to realize that friendship is one of the most precious gifts we can give each other, and that love can strengthen understanding, lead to new beginnings, and illuminate our lives.

This is the sequel to The Quilter’s Apprentice, which I read last year. It continues the stories of the group of quilters introduced in that book two years later. Their business venture at Elm Creek Manor has been established and become a destination quilting school with a new group of quilt campers arriving every week. The Elm Creek Quilters teach the workshops and manage the business as well as their own complicated lives. The book is named for the Round Robin quilt that the group members are making as a surprise for Sylvia Compson who grew up at Elm Creek Manor and is a master quilter and mentor for the group. As the quilt is passed to each of the women to add the next border to the quilt her story becomes the focus for that section of the book. This is a book about women’s friendships, relationships, and challenges. The women’s stories intertwine and involve both the past and present with the quilt becoming a symbol of their lives and friendships.

This is a nice series for when I need a break and a book that’s slower paced and gentle. I have several friends who are quilters, so I enjoy learning about the quilting patterns and seeing the pictures on the author’s website of the quilts she describes in her books. It’s a bit predictable, and a few of the characters are less than sympathetic. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of this type of book, but it’s nice to have in the mix on a regular basis.