When I saw A Patchwork Christmas Collection by Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, and Stephanie Grace Whitson mentioned at Monica‘s, I thought I might like it as a Christmas read, partly because I had read and enjoyed the first two authors before.
The book is made up up three different stories:
“Seams Like Love” by Judith Miller.Karla Stuke lives in the Amana colonies in Iowa with her family in the 1890s. She was engaged, but her fiance jilted her for another. Feeling she can never trust her heart to any man again, she puts all thoughts of love and marriage away and helps her family provide communal meals in the hotel. Then suddenly her old childhood friend, Frank, returns. He has trained as a pharmacist’s apprentice and been assigned to her village. He hopes to renew their friendship, but finds her distant. When he learns that she is no longer engaged, he wonders if he can ever convince her that all men are not as faithless as the one who hurt her.
I had never heard of the Amana colonies before and found a bit of their history here. The Inspirationists began in Germany, migrated to New York, and eventually established a communal colony of six villages in Iowa. From what this page says of their beliefs, they sound somewhat similar to Quakers, and the returning pharmacist in the book mentioned he was often mistaken for Amish. The “brethren,” or leaders, directed much, choosing who was going to live where and what their vocation or contribution to the community should be.I thought in the book they seemed awfully blunt with each other: I am not sure if that was characteristic of them or the author’s interpretation.
But I enjoyed the story, earning about this group, Karla and Frank’s journey, and especially Karla’s needing to overcome a perception of herself unwittingly planted by her sister years before.
“A Patchwork Love” by Stephanie Grace Whitson. In Nebraska in 1875, Jane McClure finds herself in dire straits when she is not only widowed, but near penniless due to her late husband’s bad investments. A man she met once in another town, Mr. Huggins, has tentatively offered to pursue the possibility of marriage, not as a love match, but to help each other. He provides for Jane and her daughter to come by train to spend Christmas with him to get to know one another better. But on the way the train is stopped by a severe snowstorm and drifts. A man and his mother living nearby come to the train to offer food to the workers and shelter for Jane and her daughter until the train gets moving again. Jane’s daughter has become very sick, so everyone focuses at first on tending to her. But in the process Jane notices that the man, Peter Gruber, whose soul is as wounded as his damaged face, also has a tender heart and ways. As circumstances keep coming up to prevent them from leaving, Jane worries that her one opportunity to save her family with Mr. Huggins is slipping away. But will she recognize the opportunity right before her?
“The Bridal Quilt” by Nancy Moser. New York society couple Ada Wallace and Samuel Alcott are on the verge on engagement: in fact, everyone expects that to happen at Christmas. But one evening when Samuel goes “slumming” in a poor side of town with friends at their insistence, he rescues a young girl from being beaten in the street. When he takes her back to the foundling home where she stays, he is struck with the need of the children, and his life and outlook are forever changed. He tries to reconcile what he feels he is called to do with his life with Ada, and they don’t seem to fit together, bringing him to the point of a major decision that will affect them all.
I enjoyed all the stories, but especially the last one. Each occurs during the Christmas season and involves a quilt and a “second chance at love.” Each chapter ends with discussion questions, a crochet or quilting project, and a recipe.
I had wanted to finish it before the end of the year, but, life being what it is, that did not happen. But I didn’t mind extending the season a bit with this nice, cozy Christmas read.
Genre: Christmas inspirational fiction
Objectionable elements: None.
My rating: 9 out of 10
(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)