Sofia Parker has two mysteries on her hands. The first is that her daughter, Vanessa, is in deep trouble with the law. The second is a message from her family's distant past. "In friendship, J.A." is embroidered on the third silken square of Sofia's prized heirloom quilt bequeathed to her by her Italian grandmother. The old diary that accompanies the quilt, written in Italian, alludes to English map points such as Southampton and cryptically mentions a stowaway who once traversed the Mediterranean Sea in 1812. Who was this stowaway? With the Southampton connection, Sofia suspects the "J.A." to be Jane Austen, the famous author who lived in nearby Chawton Village, but she can't find any evidence that Jane ever visited Italy. As the next guardian of the antique cassone that houses the priceless quilt and the old diary that accompanies it, Sofia is determined to learn the true history behind each peace. Meanwhile, Sofia is struggling to understand her daughter's trouble with the police.