Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club
Kate Jacobs
366 pages

I really hate having to give books negative reviews.  I hate it even more when it's a book that has been recommended to me over and over again.  This being said, it shouldn't be too surprising that I've been putting off this review for about a week now.  Well, here we go.

The Friday Night Knitting Club is about a Georgia Walker, a single mother of the baking-obsessed young teen Dakota and owner of her own knitting shop, Walker and Daughter.  Set in New York City, the book covers the drama of being a single mother and business woman, especially when Dakota's long-absent father comes back looking for some involvement in her life.  However, although centered around Georgia, the plot goes on to explore the complicated lives of a handful of other women, and how they come together each week to find some comfort and support in their friday night knitting club.

I guess I should start of by mentioning that I don't normally read a lot of chick lit, but I picked up this because 1) it was recommended to me multiple times ("I mean, you knit, don't you?") and 2) because my grandmother had just finished reading it and had offered it to me.  So I figured why not?  Well, now I remember why not.  It wasn't that the struggles of a single mother weren't compelling (although maybe I am a bit young to really appreciate them), but I was worn out by the constant complaining.  It wasn't just Georgia, either, but every single character had at least one moment of long-winded self pity. By the middle of the book, I was beginning to feel like I was watching a soap opera.

Basically, I am not a fan of the style of the writing.  I especially did not like the fact that, every time a new character was introduced, Jacobs would pause the novel's "present" and jump into some long winded and frankly not-quite-necessary backstory.  While I could appreciate all of the work that she had obviously put into constructing each character, I couldn't help but be reminded of one of the first comments I ever received on a work of my own creative writing: "I like that you're telling us all this backstory, but is there a way that you can work it into the action so it doesn't feel out of place?"  I also felt that there were too many subplots within the larger context of the novel to the point that the dramatic ending didn't actually phase me as much as it could have.  I blame this on all the "mini-plots" and false-climaxes.

Of course, I could have stopped reading at any point in the novel and simply walked away.  I didn't, though, and this is simply because of the concept of the novel.  Everyone who recommended this novel to me was right, in a way: I did love all the knitting!  It really reminded me of when I was first learning to knit and drew me in because of that.  The characters were generally compelling and well-written (with the exception of Dakota and Darcy) and I really wanted to see how it was going to work out for them in the end.  This is really why I gave this two out of five stars on Goodreads.  Jacob's was lucky enough that her concept made up for the awkwardness of her writing.

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