Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Back of the Book Blurb:
For every woman who has ever dreamed of starting over, or being a better mother, or just knitting a really nice scarf . . . Jo Mackenzie needs a fresh start. Newly widowed with two young sons and a perilous bank balance, she leaves the bustle of London to take over her beloved Gran’s wool shop in her sleepy seaside hometown. There, she finds unexpected comfort in a “Stitch and Bitch” knitting group that meets every week to trade gossip, and, occasionally, a new stitch. When a man enters Jo’s life, the knitting club has even more trouble confining the conversation to knit one, purl two. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club is an uplifting, winning tale about the healing power of friendship and new beginnings.
I rated this book 3.5 stars…I didn’t love it (for good reason), but I definitely liked it a lot. It was a quick, light read that was great for the holiday break. McNeil’s style reminded me of Elizabeth Buchan and Elizabeth Noble in many ways, but most particularly in the lead female character. She was strong and likable, had flaws that the reader could identify with, and was successfully moving forward from a losing a spouse (who was a wanker, but still). All in all, it was a good story that had me kind of wishing I could move to a small town on the coast and run a yarn shop. Of course, learning to knit would help.
As much as I enjoyed the book (and I did), I kept stumbling over how the author presented fatherhood. With the exception of one good guy, who was both a devoted husband and father, her attitude about fathers seemed to be that they were not only expendable, but they were really a nuisance, and actually ended up bollixing things up entirely. She presented men as great for dating (and for shagging), and evening marrying (if that’s your thing), but pretty much useless for parenting. I despise this point of view, because it not only diminishes men in general, but it also diminishes what women should expect from a partner, and it diminishes respect for good men…because the flippant attitude that men are useless becomes so pervasive.
That being said, this didn’t ruin the book for me. The author wasn’t heavy-handed with this view, but it was overt and matter-of-fact, and assumed that all men were the same in this regard. Still, there was much to enjoy, including knitting as the theme throughout. Every time a read a book is built around knitting, it makes me want to try it (again), so that in itself was enough to balance it out. I will read the sequel.