August 23, 2008
The Friday Night Knitting Club
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Finished on 8/21/08
Rating: 3/5 (So-so)
Once a week, an eclectic group of women comes together at a New York City yarn shop to work on their latest projects—and share the stories of their lives...
At the center of Walker and Daughter is the shop's owner, Georgia, who is overwhelmed with juggling the store and single-handedly raising her teenage daughter. Happy to escape the demands of her life, she looks forward to her Friday Night Knitting Club, where she and her friends—Anita, Peri, Darwin, Lucie and K.C.—exchange knitting tips, jokes, and their deepest secrets. But when the man who once broke Georgia's heart suddenly shows up, demanding a role in their daughter's life, her world is shattered.
Luckily, Georgia's friends are there for encouragement, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they've created isn't just a knitting club: it's a sisterhood.
In anticipation of setting up a "Women's Friendship" endcap at work, I dug through my stacks, looking for a few titles to add to the list of potential recommendations. I'd heard good things about this debut novel and was excited when I discovered it in a stack of books my mom brought for me earlier this summer when she was out visiting from Oregon. Thanks, Mom!
I've always been drawn to female friendship-type books, in spite of the growing realization that they're all so similar. Is it that difficult to be original or have I just read my fair share of this genre? It's almost as if one could create such a book by following a recipe:
1 elderly widow/mentor (wise and motherly)
1 divorcee (bitter & confused)
1 single parent with teenager (typically a child wise beyond his years, yet still rebellious)
1 married woman with fidelity issues
1 woman, married or single, with fertility concerns
Add the obligatory men (the good, the bad and the ugly)
Mix until blended; fold in 1 cancer victim and toss with a generous helping of saccharine. Voila! You've got yourself an instant best-seller, albeit trite and clichéd.
I don't knit, but the book appealed to me nonetheless. The title, however, doesn't quite fit. The book may be about knitting, but it really isn't about a club or group of women bound by their weekly meetings. Unlike so many of the typical friendship novels, this narrative doesn't focus a whole lot on the actual club gatherings. Instead it deals more with the characters and their personal dilemmas, with only brief mentions of knitting projects and solutions. The knitting club was really just a minor backdrop to the storyline. And only a couple the characters came to life for me; the majority remained one-dimensional stereotypes typical of the genre.
In spite of a fairly slow start (typical of this sort of book, which involves the introduction of a lot of similar characters all at once), and a mildly disappointing finale, I have to say the book was fairly entertaining. I looked forward to my reading time, as a couple of the characters began to grow on me. My heartstrings were gently tugged, leaving me with a lump in my throat on more than one occasion. And, quite surprisingly, I even found myself toying with the idea of heading over to Hobby Lobby to buy a skein of yarn and set of knitting needles. I am not a crafty person by any stretch of the imagination, but Jacobs includes instructions for a simple scarf and I'm tempted to give it a whirl. There's also a recipe for muffins. Hmmm, maybe I better stick to what I know and go with the baking. I'm sure my husband would enjoy the food more than a goofy-looking scarf and the odds are probably more in favor of completing the muffins.
The Friday Night Knitting Club won't wind up on my keeper shelf, but I'm not sorry I read it. And yes, I still plan to include it on my endcap. It's got a definite appeal to women of all ages, and has been quite popular with book groups. And, now that the word is out that Julia Roberts is starring in the upcoming film, I have a feeling more copies will start to fly off the shelves.
What's your favorite "Women's Friendship" book?