Book Review: ‘Quilters of the Door’ by Ann Hazelwood

Ann Hazelwood is a quilter, certified quilt appraiser, former president of the National Quilt Museum and, for 30 years, the owner of a quilt shop in Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri. She’s also written travel books, but when Hazelwood sold her quilt shop in 2008, she turned to writing novels about quilting: three series of several books, each set in interesting locations.

Quilters of the Door – the first book in her new series – is set in Door County, where Hazelwood and her husband have vacationed for 20 years. If you ration your reading, you can spend days and days visiting Door County shops and restaurants, meeting the neighbors of central character Claire Stewart on Fish Creek’s Cottage Row and getting to know the members of the quilting club she joins.

Claire, age 55, has moved to Fish Creek from a small town in Missouri, settling into a log cottage to continue her work as a watercolorist and quilter. She doesn’t cook, and money is apparently not a problem, so she and her new friends enjoy many meals in restaurants all over the county.  

She also has time to get involved with community discussions such as the need for affordable housing, enjoy traditions such as Christmas caroling at Noble House, stock up at the Pig before a blizzard and organize assistance for a couple in financial distress. Quite a bit of local history is stitched into the story as well.

Just four characters in the book are identified by their actual names, but you’ll have fun trying to figure out whether others might be real people you know, too. For example, the craft shop owner who looks like Clark Gable? The handsome fellow in the red scarf? Or the quilt club members: Greta, who rules with a firm hand; Marta, whose dairy farm and orchard are near Baileys Harbor; Ava, who lives in a Victorian house in Egg Harbor; Frances, whose historic home is in Sturgeon Bay; Lee Sue, who shares an ornate home in Ephraim with her physician husband; Olivia, who lives above a bookstore in Sturgeon Bay; Rachel, who resides on a farm between Egg Harbor and Fish Creek, makes wall quilts to match the barn quilts crafted by her husband, and sometimes tends bar at the Bayside; or Ginger, whose Sister Bay shop sells vintage and antique items?

If the description of the cottage Claire shares with Puff – the cat she never wanted – feels real, that’s because it is an actual place. If you drive around a bit, you can spot it!

Although many mystery series hold readers’ interest through an ongoing investigation that takes several volumes to be solved – this is not one of them. A string of store break-ins is solved, but the stories are tied together through the continued exploration of Claire’s friendships and love stories.

Throughout the book, Claire describes tasty meals and carryout food to warm up at home from dozens of local restaurants – you’ll be hungry by the end! The last page even includes the White Gull Inn’s apple pie recipe.The second book in the series, Door to Door Quilts, will debut in Door County in May. And the third, The Tannenbaum Christmas Quilt, will have a launch party in September. Quilters of the Door is available on Amazon.