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The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

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Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

Oh, how I wish that the Aloha Quilt Camp was a real place instead of fiction.

The most recent installment in the Elm Creek Quilt Novels, is The Aloha Quilt. And yes, it takes place in Hawaii.

This time Bonnie Markham is at the centre of the story. Bonnie was once happily married, raised two sons, and operated a successful quilt shop. The shop met it’s demise with the deadly combination of big box stores and internet shopping luring her customers away. When this happens to a small town shop of any kind, no matter how good your customer service, there is sometimes just not enough business left to support the owner. Not long after her business fails, Bonnie discovers that her husband has been having an affair with a woman he met on the internet. Things are falling apart in her life at home, but her friends at Elm Creek Quilts provide both emotional support and employment.

Then Bonnie gets an offer she can’t refuse. Her college room-mate and life long friend, Claire, who operates a quilt shop on the island of Maui wants Bonnie’s help. Clair also owns a small inn that she envisions turning into a retreat for quilters, modeled on the successful Elm Creek Quilt Camp. Who better than Bonnie to help her put it all together! And what could be better for Bonnie, dealing with a contentious divorce, than a winter in Hawaii, far away from her problems at home. The kids are grown up – there is nothing to stop Bonnie from thinking only about herself for the first time since she married.

Bonnie’s experience with marriage is far from unique – she discovers her husband is having an affair, they attempt counseling and reconciliation – all the while her husband is continuing the affair, and hiding assets from the marriage, as he prepares for the divorce that he knows is coming.

For those who follow this series, you know that there is always a personal story and quilting history woven together into these novels.

InThe Aloha Quilt we learn about the method of construction of a Hawaiian quilt and the symbolism in the designs. We also learn about the history of the Hawaiian islands – something I knew nothing about and found both fascinating and surprising. In this novel we leave the other Elm Creek Quilters at home, but I will tell you that Sarah has not has not yet given birth to those twins – next novel maybe. Sound like a soap opera? Well, that is really what these novels are – soap operas on paper for quilters – and we love them. There is no pretense to be “literature”, just a good read about a group of women we’d all like to know for real.

The women who come to quilt camp are of many ages and backgrounds, taking time out from their daily lives, leaving their disappointments and worries behind as they spend time with supportive friends, and leave at the end of their week bringing renewed energy and determination to their lives at home.

"Aloha”, the traditional Hawaiian greeting means more than just hello and goodbye. The literal meaning is "the presence of breath" or "the breath of life." The word represents a spirit of harmony, affection and mutual respect. That is exactly what Bonnie and Claire will offer at the Aloha Quilt Camp – and you will find the same spirit in the novel The Aloha Quilt.

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