This is the 8th book in Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts Novel series. There are 3 more books that have been published since this one and another due out in April 2008. Obviously, I am behind!
I love this series. Certainly it appeals to anyone who loves quilts, but there is much more to the books than just quilt stories. This series centers around a diverse group of ladies who are drawn together by their love of the art of quilting. Through the Elm Creek series we are able to see into their lives and also learn about their pasts.
The Christmas Quilt seems to me to be a bit of a reminiscence. It is Christmas at Elm Creek Manor and memories of Christmas past seem to be flooding Sylvia Compton's mind. Many of those memories are found in other Elm Creek novels. It also seems to be a bit out of order.
There are certain events that have happened in the series (wedding, reunion etc.) that have obviously not taken place at the time of The Christmas Quilt.
Chiaverini is known to going back in time or even off on a different hunt in her books. For the most part they are in order chronologically, but not always. That said, I do think it is best to read them in order.
If you like books like Jan Karon's Mitford series, you will like the Elm Creek novels. They are lovely slices of life.