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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Beach Street Knitting and Yarn Club

McNeil, Gil. The Beach Street Knitting and Yarn Club.

For the most part, I don't care for Chick Lit. I've picked up some that by the time I'm two pages in, I'm already wondering who in bloody hell reads this stuff. BUT I've read some that is really fun and enjoyable.

This one is definitely Chick Lit, and definitely fun. It took a chapter or so for things to kind of settle in and for McNeil to begin finding her voice, but once she did, I was having a great time and finding myself smiling at poor Jo's antics with her two young sons, Jack and Archie.

So...brief summation of the situation: Jo McKenzie's husband tells her that he wants a divorce, then promptly has a fatal car accident, leaving Jo to deal with naturally mixed feelings about his death. She is left stunned, grieving for their boys, and angry--especially as he had taken a second mortgage on their home without telling her.

Jo and her two boys must leave London and retreat to a small village where she will take over her grandmother's knitting shop. She has several interesting characters to deal with as well as trying to transform the shop into a paying proposition.

The narrative is a series of vignettes, little scenes with engaging, often understated dialogue; funny incidents dealing with the children; and episodes with interesting, amusing, and/or annoying minor characters.

A little more than half way through, I began to wonder about a climax. No pun intended, as romance is such a brief part of this novel. But, you know, a turning point? Two thirds through the novel and there's been no real rising action-- so there's no inkling of a turning point. (Kind of like real life...)

With only one and a half chapters left, I realized that I didn't care. I was enjoying the little episodes Jo had to deal with in making a life for herself and her two sons. The story is a warm and witty account of a woman who must make some big readjustments, and who finds herself not only dealing with her own problems, but becoming involved with the lives of others in the small village.

I had tried Knit Two by Kate Jacobs and abandoned it after about 10 pages, so I was pleased to discover that this was a light novel that appealed to my sense of humor. Knitting and the knit shop provide a convenient vehicle for a story about a woman making a new life for herself, maintaining old friendships and making new ones, and raising two small boys who have had some big changes in their lives

After the first chapter, I got a real kick out of McNeil's dialogue and the tricky situations life throws at us in the process of every day life. I would like to see another novel with these characters.

Other reviews: Pop Goes Fiction, YC Reads ...

:) I started this review a week ago and am just now finishing it.

Fiction. 2009. 404 pages.


  1. Sounds like a good book to read between the heavier stuff, but it also sounds like it has just enough substance of its own. Thanks for your review. I really enjoy them.

  2. Chick lit is hit and miss for me but there is the occasional one I will read and enjoy. I probably would have skipped this one based on the title alone, but now you've got me curious. Thanks for the great review, Jenclair!

  3. I love the book cover. Sounds like this would be a perfect beach read!

  4. I'm with Literary Feline, chick lit is definitely hit or miss for me too. When it's good, I love it. I can laugh, smile and spend time reading but relaxing too. But when it's bad, ugh. You immediately shiver when you see a pink cover :)

    So, I'm going to add this one to my list for when I need a fun, light read.

  5. Nicole - Do we all do that? Intersperse light reads in between the heavier stuff? I usually use fantasy or mystery to fill that spot, but Beach Street was fun.

    LF - I wanted a "knitting" title and the first one I tried didn't work out at all, so I decided to try again.

    Stephanie - Yes, a perfect light, cheerful beach read!

    iliana - You've really nailed it. The good ones are great fun, but the bad ones are so simplistic and annoying that they make you wary.

  6. I'm not a big fan of Chick Lit but I do enjoy knitting books and the british aspects sound interesting.
    I'm adding it to my wishlist. Thanks for your review.

  7. Bonnie - I saw it on the New Shelf at the library and picked it up. The knitting is just a vehicle to move the story along, but the author is a knitter. It was a light, fun book with likable characters.

  8. So I totally saw this and thought, "New knitting book, SCORE!"

    Then I realized I've absolutely read this book but with another title - Divas Don't Knit. I guess maybe it's one of those British books that have a different title in the US (I'm in Canada, we tend to get the British titles).

  9. sassymonkey - I hate it when that happens!