"The Quilted Heart" by Mona Hodgson is a collection of three novellas in one printed book.
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 makes quilts for the soldiers at war and also send 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 wait 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 decide 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.
Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun, and Ripples Along the Shore
Like a beautiful patchwork quilt, the three novellas in The Quilted Heart tell stories of lives stitched together with love and God’s unending grace.
Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God’s grace?
Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan?
Bending Toward the Sun
Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie’s eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?
Ripples Along the Shore
Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline’s husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids her—a single woman—to travel with them, will one man’s prejudice destroy Caroline’s hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God’s love bring the answer she needs?