‘Sonoma Rose’ characters haunted Chiaverini

Rosa Diaz Barclay and Lars Jorgensen haunted Jennifer Chiaverini since she wrote “The Quilter’s Homecoming” five years ago.

The couple had been presumed dead until it was revealed they had fled the Arboles Valley, taken on aliases and were running a successful vineyard in California. No longer in need of the farm Rosa abandoned, she sold it to Elizabeth Nelson, Sylvia’s cousin. It wasn’t until the novel was finished that Chiaverini realized that since the novel was set during Prohibition, that it would be quite a challenge for Rosa and Lars to achieve their happy ending.

“I really enjoyed writing the novel” said Chiaverini, who considers “Sonoma Rose” a sequel to “The Quilter’s Homecoming,” even though it is the 19th book in the Elm Creek Quilts series. “I wanted to know how they managed to reach their happy ending. Writing ‘Sonoma Rose’ gave me the chance to do that.”

The book begins at the climax of “The Quilter’s Homecoming” with Rosa fleeing with her children after a particularly brutal beating from her husband John. Lars, her former lover and father of two of her four children, comes to her aid.

As the novel moves forward there are a series of flashbacks that tells the story of Lars and Rosa’s relationship, how Rosa came to marry another man and how John evolved from an affectionate suitor to an abusive husband.

“John was pretty badly betrayed,” Chiaverini said. “Rosa wasn’t kind to him. She was in love with Lars, but she didn’t think she could be with him. Her family, especially her mother, was absolutely dead set against it. She did use him, not out of cruelty, but I think in a very short-sighted manner. She does have some twinges of guilt now and then, but preserving her secret with Lars was more important than being honest with John.

“He too chooses dishonesty and it becomes a trap that just kind of contains them both. The lie that they agree to believe just fosters all this mistrust in John, that I think the marriage was clearly doomed because of the choices they made.”

The characters traveling down a difficult road to reach their happy ending and the historical period the novel is set in, make for a novel packed with suspense and nail biting plot lines. And that’s with 20,000 words cut out to trim the original manuscript down to size.

“I just took every fourth word and cut it out. I don’t think anyone will notice,” Chiaverini said laughing. “There was so much that I learned that I found fascinating about the lives of these characters and, of course, the lives of the real people who dealt with the blow of being proud members of their community, supporting their families, carrying on a tradition that had sometimes gone on for generations, and then overnight this time honored tradition, something that was a source of pride for them, all of sudden was illegal. How do you deal with that?

“I felt that there were so many stories to tell and ultimately they couldn’t all be contained in one book. …. I have to really focus on what is really most crucial to the story and what do I think will convey the essence of the characters and of course move everything forward to what I hope the readers will consider a satisfying conclusion.”

“Sonoma Rose” reaches bookstores on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Chiaverini will appear on tour at the following locations:

7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21

Barnes & Noble

7433 Mineral Point Rd.

Madison, WI 53717

5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22

Boswell Books

400 N. Water St.

Milwuakee, IL 53202

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23

Joseph-Beth Booksellers

2692 Madison Rd.

Cincinnati, OH 45208

7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24

Learned Owl

200 Laurel Lake Dr.

Hudson, OH 44236

2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25

Towne Book Center & Cafe

220 Plaza Dr., Suite B-3

Collegeville, PA 19426

2 p.m. Sunday, Feb 26

Warren Newport Library

224 N. O’Plaine Rd.

Gurnee, IL 60031

Noon Monday, Feb. 27

Cook Memorial Library

413 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Libertyville, IL 60048

7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27

Next Chapter Bookshop

10976 N. Port Washington Rd.

Mequon, WI 53092

7 p.m. Thursday, March 1

Copperfield’s Books

140 Kentucky St.

Petaluma, CA 94952

7 p.m. Friday, March 2

Book Passage

51 Tamal Vista Boulevard

Corte Madera, CA 94952

1 p.m. Saturday, March 3

Thousand Oaks Library

1401 E. Janss Rd.

Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

For more information about “Sonoma Rose” and Chiaverini’s book tour, visit elmcreek.net.


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