The year is 2012. Gracie works at the county museum in Jubilee Junction, Iowa, where she is hard at work putting together an exhibit of historic quilts. She struggles with an overbearing boyfriend who is pressuring her to leave her hometown and get a job near him in the big city, juggling three jobs to make ends meet, and trying to serve as peacemaker between her two elderly aunts who can’t seem to stay in the same room together without fireworks going off between them.
This dual timeline timeline adventure begins during a family reunion of sorts, when Gracie inherits a box of cassette tapes, a quilt, and the key to a family secret from from her Grandmother Grace. Gracie and her Aunt Violet listen to the tapes together and are transported back to the early 1940s, to the onset of World War 2, as the elder Grace narrates the tale of how she and her twin sisters, Violet and Vera, traveled from their ancestral home in Iowa to California to help with the war effort.
When Vera hears that Gracie has inherited the “California Quilt,” she will not rest until that relic from the past is destroyed.
Cherie Dargan retired from Hawkeye Community College in 2016. She’s the President of her local League of Women Voters, manages several websites, and continues to research her family history, which goes back to the 1850s in Iowa. Her grandchildren are the seventh generation to live in Iowa. She describes her writing as women’s fiction set in the Midwest, with a twist of history, mystery, faith, and love. She’s married to Michael Dargan, and they have two adult children and three grandchildren.
She’s webmaster for the Ruth Suckow website, http://www.ruthsuckow.org, a member of the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association (RSMA) and served on the Cedar Falls Authors Festival committee (2016-2018) and is its webmaster, http://www.cfauthorsfestival.org. This celebrates the writing of five best-selling authors with ties to Cedar Falls, Iowa: Bess Streeter Aldrich, Ruth Suckow, James Hearst, Robert Waller, and Nancy Price. She’s written several chapters about Ruth Suckow and the literary history of Cedar Falls.
My thoughts: Sixty-four years of bitterness, all started during WWII. A family story, brought to life by tapes made by a grandmother. It’s also the story of the granddaughter, who is making difficult decisions of her own as she curates an exhibit of quilts. Besides the tapes, the grandmother leaves a quilt that causes a violent reaction in one family member. A compelling historical novel about consequences and forgiveness.
Each book focuses on a quilt, a time in American history, and has dual timelines and narrators, starting with The Gift. In the present day, Gracie O’Connor learns about her family history, while her Grandmother Grace tells the story of three Iowa farm girls who went to California during WWII.
Book One, The Gift (WWII and the California patchwork quilt)
Book two, The Legacy (The Civil War and the Rustic Rose quilt)
Book three, The Promise (WWI and Grandma Mary’s Wedding Ring quilt)
Book four, a holiday novella, The Recollection (Depression era and the Crazy quilt)
Book five, The Sacrifice (Vietnam and Uncle Rich’s military valor quilt)
Here’s Cherie’s website.
Article about Cherie in the Waterloo Courier.
Here’s Cherie’s interview with John Busbee of The Culture Buzz during the summer of 2023.