The Cross-Country Quilters

The Cross-Country Quilters

An Elm Creek Quilts Novel

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Readers of The Quilter's Apprentice and Round Robin have been enchanted by Elm Creek Quilt Camp, where women gather each year for quilting, friendship, and fun. The third in the Elm Creek Quilts series introduces the Cross-Country Quilters, a group of far-flung friends who pledge to complete a "challenge quilt" -- symbolic of each woman's personal goals -- in one year's time.
These five women arrive at Elm Creek Manor hoping to find in their quilt lessons an escape from the problems they left at home. Julia, an aging starlet, has pinned her hopes to a plum role in a historical epic whose director is under the mistaken impression that Julia already knows how to quilt. Megan is a successful engineer who has won prizes for her miniature quilt designs. The one challenge she has yet to master is single motherhood. Donna, a mother of two, must hasten to teach her daughter independence and self-esteem -- lessons she, too, must take to heart. Grace is a renowned curator of antique quilts, whose creative flair is waning for reasons she is unwilling to reveal -- even to her closest friends. Vinnie, the senior member of the group, is a sunny soul with a tragic past. Her overwhelming desire is to bring happiness into the lives of those she loves.
Although the Cross-Country Quilters share a common creative goal, as the year goes by their bonds are tested by the demands of daily life. But despite differences in age, race, and background, the friends' love for quilting and affection for one another unite them in a patchwork of caring and acceptance. The quilt they make reminds them of an everlasting truth -- friends may be separated by great distance, yet the strength of their bond can transcend any obstacle.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743214896 | 
  • June 2001
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Julia loathed retirement parties. Watching the guest of honor make the obligatory final curtain call evoked a predictable yet uncomfortable melancholy, but worse yet was the sense of the other guests' eyes upon her. She imagined their whispers: Isn't it about time we threw one of these parties for her, the dowager queen of the television drama? Doesn't she realize her time has passed?

As she raised her champagne flute to join the others in a toast to Maury, the man who had been her agent throughout her career, Julia forced herself to smile. Despite the critics' lukewarm appreciation of her talent, she knew she was... see more

Reading Group Guide

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  1. Why is the quilt called a challenge quilt? What is a challenge quilt? How are the five women’s lived affected by the quilt?


  1. Do the five friends accomplish the goals they set for themselves? How are their dissimilar lives eventually symbolized by the challenge quilt?


  1. Jennifer Chiaverini alternates points of view to convey her story, a technique she also used in her second novel, Round Robin. Do you think this was an effective storytelling technique? In what ways do you think it was or was not?


  1. How did you feel about the introduction of a brand new set of characters three books into the series? Were you able to connect with them? Did you find yourself drawn to any character in particular? Were you sympathetic to their problems?


  1. Why do you think Vinnie starts her mornings by talking with God? Do you think she is a religious or spiritual woman? She also values the time spent with her children and grandchildren, despite missing her Sam. Is family the driving force in Vinnie’s life? How do her actions reveal this? How do they affect the others?


  1. Are all the women in the novel equally courageous? Do you think Grace, with her strength and resolve to overcome her health issues, is the bravest?
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