A Quilt for Christmas takes place in Kansas during the last year of the Civil War, 1864. Eliza Spooner is left at her family farm with her two children, Luzena and Davy while her husband Will goes off to fight the Confederates. All she has of Will are his infrequent letters home. Eliza decides to make a quilt for Will, to keep him warm in the coming winter months. It's a special quilt, made with stars and stripes, and stitched with Will and Eliza's names. With that quilt, Eliza sends all her love and prayers to keep Will safe in battle.
Meanwhile, Missouri Ann, a woman Eliza only knows through infrequent town visits, has found out her husband has been killed in the war. She has nowhere to go, since her husband's family, the Starks, are a cruel, vicious household of men who will force Missouri Ann to marry one of them in order to keep her taking care of the house. Eliza takes Missouri Ann and her little daughter, Nance, into her home. A rich friendship develops between the two women over the cold winter.
And when tragedy strikes, Eliza must find a way to move forward and take care of her farm. The war is drawing to a close, but the loss of the husbands of her close friends, and the uncertainty of those left waiting for their husbands to return from war weighs heavily on every woman left behind. Only their quilting circle keeps them together, sharing secrets, concerns, and their meager food supplies.
This is a gentle story, full of sadness and grief, and perserverence in the face of grief and uncertainty. Eliza is a strong woman who takes out Will's letters and reads them when she needs strength. And her quilt comes full circle, but you have to read the story to find out how and why.
And for those of you who have read The Persian Pickle Club, you'll be happy to know it's the 20th anniversary of the first publication, and it has a lovely tie to this novel. Both together would make a wonderful gift for Christmas. Anyone who likes historical fiction, civil war novels, and novels of the West will enjoy this tale. Sandra just simply writes a great story, and may give you that push to start quilting.
Rating: 8/10 for a gentle story about the price of war, and the powerful value of friendship.
Available in hardcover and ebook.
Here are a few of my other reviews of Sandra's previous books: