A single mother who owns her own business, and is raising her biracial child alone–the father having run off to Paris for a glamorous life as an architect. The woman who was the shop owner’s best friend from kindergarten to graduation from high school, now a trophy society wife. An editor made redundant in her fifties. A graduate student whose husband has been posted to his internship on the other side of the country. A young artist whose parents want her to attend law school. A widow in her sixties, lonely but unwilling to move to Florida to be with her children. And, of course, the city of New York. A lonely unmarried woman in her forties who harbors hope for a child.
What ties these women together? Well, that’s hardly a secret given the title: knitting.
The group has come to meet every Friday evening at the protagonist’s yarn shop to knit, discuss knitting, and (not surprisingly, given this is chicklit) provide emotional support for one another in their various lives’ crises (and again, not surprisingly given this is chicklit) there are a lot of crises of the sort of intensity that make the incipient adolescence of the shop owner’s daughter seem like a damp squib.
Georgia is managing well enough; the knitting shop is in the black, she’s still getting knitting commissions, and as the owner of a small business, she has the freedom to keep her daughter Dakota with her in the shop. But then James, the father of her child, appears back in New York, having wangled a transfer from Paris so that he can take part in his daughter’s life after an absence of twelve years. Cat (who was known as Cathy in school) pops into the shop one day after an absence even longer than James’ and breezily requests that Georgia design and handknit not one but two gowns on extremely short notice for an upcoming event she and her husband will be attending.
Georgia must settle her ambiguous feeling for James–does she want to renew her relationship with him, or leave it strictly a parental involvement with her daughter. Peri must balance her parents’ desire that she attend law school with her own talents for designing fiber arts. Darwin must maintain a relationship with her husband, doing his internship in Los Angeles–the distance between them and the time internship consumes are both barriers. Cat’s marriage is failing–she serves her husband legal papers at the event for which Georgia knitted the two dresses. Anita, now in her seventies, must balance her independence in New York (and her budding relationship with the nearby restaurateur) with her kids’ insistence that she move to Florida with them. the denouement of the book comes with Georgia’s diagnosis of ovarian cancer and to a lesser extent, Lucie’s pregnancy.
There are a few holes. I’m not going to pick apart Lucie’s decision to have a child as a result of a one-night stand; the child is wanted and will be loved. Not even Darwin’s struggles with her relationship with her husband are a real problem; distance relationships are hard enough and when one tosses the schedule of an intern into the mix, saints’ patience would be tried. No, it’s the idea of someone hand-knitting two dresses in a period of three months while simultaneously running a business and raising a child. Trust me, those are huge projects.
Overall, this is an uplifting story of the strength of women’s friendships with a fair bit of the knitting that brought them together and kept them during hard times; the tragedy brings them together and strengthens their relationship. This would make an ideal book discussion group for avid knitters who happen to be fans of shows like Sex in the City, or who liked Steel Magnolias. For those with too little time to read books, it’s been optioned for a movie…and Julia Roberts is slated for the lead. Why am I not surprised?