“The Quilted Heart” by Mona Hodgson

“The Quilted Heart” by Mona Hodgson is a collection of three novellas in one printed book.  I read and reviewed “Prairie Song” and loved it.  The publisher, Waterbrook, asked me to read and review this collection and I agreed.  I was sent a free print copy of this book from Waterbrook and NightOwlReviews.com  in return for my honest review.

I enjoyed this collection very much.  I have family who live in the St. Charles, Missouri area and I always enjoy reading about areas of interest to my family.  The binding ingredient among these three stories is the fact that all of the heroines belong to a quilting group that meets at Mrs. Brantenberg’s home once a week.  This group of women makse quilts for the soldiers at war and also sensd care packages to the sons of St. Charles’ families who are fighting.

The first novella, Dandelions on the Wind, was a sweet, simple novel.  It is set immediately after the end of the Civil War when soldiers are making their way back home after the fighting.  In many cases, they carry emotional as well as physical scars from the battlefields.   This is hard on the women and children who waited in angst for their return.  They are glad they are back with the family, but worried about their conditions.  Maren Jensen is a mail-order bride who has been rejected because of her failing eyesight.  She is taken in by a woman whose son-in-law left after the death of his wife and birth of his daughter.  Maren thinks of Mrs. Brantenberg as a surrogate mother since she left her family in Sweden to come to America to be a man’s bride.  She is now trying to earn enough money to return home.  She makes her plans before Rutherford Wainwright, the son-in-law returns home.  This is their story.

The second novella is Bending Toward the Sun, which is the story of one of Maren’s friends, Emilie.  Emilie is all her father has.  He needs her to help run the general store and dissuades her from having any suitors.  However, a returned soldier, a former friend of Emilie’s comes home and together they try to forge a new life together.

Ripples Along the Shore is the third novella.  Many families in St. Charles, Missouri are planning to turn to the west for a new life by joining the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train.  Garrett Cowlishaw served in the Confederate army and is friends with Rutherford Wainwright.  He has been hired to lead the wagon train west.  One of Maren’s friends, Caroline has been waiting for her husband to return from the war, but is slowly giving up hope that he is still alive.  She does not care for Garrett at all because he fought on the opposite side from her husband.  Will Caroline ever forgive Garrett for being on the “wrong side”?  Will her husband finally come home to her or will she decides to go west with the other families?

I enjoyed each of these novellas in their own right, but having them together in a collection is a perfect way to read the connected stories.  I recommend this book highly.

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