Book Review: Sonoma Rose

Author: Jennifer Chiaverini

Publisher: Penguin, 2012

Genre: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel

Rating: B+

I’ve only read one book in the Elm Creek Quilts series, and that was a long time ago when I actually did some quilting. When I saw the connection to Sonoma County California, I decided I wanted to reconnect with the series again.

Summary from the publisher:

As the nation grapples with the strictures of Prohibition, Rosa Barclay lives on a Southern California rye farm with her volatile husband, John, who has lately found another source of income far outside the federal purview.

Mother to eight children, Rosa mourns the loss of four who succumbed to a mysterious disease. When an act of violence shatters Rosa’s resolve to maintain her increasingly dangerous existence, she flees with the children and her precious heirloom quilts to the mesa where she last saw her beloved mother alive.

Together [with the man who was her first love] they all escape to Berkeley, where a leading specialist offers their only hope of saving [the lives of Rosa’s youngest children.]

Here in northern California, they create new identities to protect themselves from Rosa’s vengeful husband, the police who seek her for questioning, and the gangsters [Rosa’s first love] reported to Prohibition agents—officers representing a department often as corrupt as the Mob itself.

Ever mindful that his youthful alcoholism provoked Rosa to spurn him, [Rosa first love] nevertheless supports Rosa’s daring plan to stake their futures on a struggling Sonoma Valley vineyard—despite the recent hardships of local winemakers whose honest labors at viticulture have, through no fault of their own, become illegal.

My thoughts:

It is unbelievable how much drama is packed into this 400 page book. There is forbidden love, domestic violence, mystery, danger, deception, a fight to save critically ill children, and the fight to create a new life in a new land. And there is, of course, the story of the quilts.

Sonoma Rose does not feel like a series, other than it has quilts in it. It’s very much a stand-alone story with break-your-heart characters. The protagonist, Rosa, did some stupid things but always operated from her heart. The author had me pulling for her all the way.

I’ve always loved stories that depict the good old-fashioned model of hard work will help you pull yourself up. It made me think about all the vineyards around me here in Sonoma County. I’m eager to talk with some of the old timers who might remember stories of their parents and grandparents who may have lived during Prohibition. I am suggesting Sonoma Rose to my book club. I think they will enjoy the local connection as well as the story itself. I recommend it to you as well.

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: TLC Book Tours. The author, Jennifer Chiaverini, has a website covering all of the books in her series. (Sonoma Rose is number 18 in the series.)

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7 Responses to Book Review: Sonoma Rose

  1. This looks like a great choice for you, and I love the cover! If we get to take a trip up Napa way again, I’m definitely taking this book!

  2. I guess there will always be drama if you get enough women together! This sounds like a great series!

  3. I have this one on my Nook and wondered if I’d miss anything by being so behind in the series. (I think I’m on number 8). Good to know it’s a stand alone. I’m going to bump this one up on my list.

  4. Staci says:

    I’ve read all of her books and enjoyed them immensely. This one sounds wonderful!

  5. kaye says:

    I do enjoy reading this author, I think she packs a lot of action and information into her books as well.

  6. stacybuckeye says:

    I read the first of the Elm Creek book but haven’t continued with the series. I wouldn’t mind a trip to Sonoma, though 🙂

  7. I really enjoy reading book with a local connection so I can see why you enjoyed this one so much!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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