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For Christmas, my aunt gave me The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil. I had my reservations about reading this.  If you have never seen it, the front cover has a picture of a blue couch, some knitting needles and a long knitted scarf in shades of blue and green.  Kind of a turn off, I know.

But my Aunt gave it to me, so I thought I’d at least give it a chance.  I’m glad I did.

I loved it.  I picked up the next two books that make up the Beach Street Society Novels: Needles and Pearls and Knit One Pearl One.

All three novels have pictures of knitting accoutrements on the cover.  If you don’t knit, don’t let that turn you off.  I don’t knit either, and I really enjoyed reading these three novels.  It is not a trilogy, so don’t think that you are embarking on a dramatic and epic quest for the perfect knitted ensemble.  It’s about relationships, and the fact that one can find satisfaction and happiness with friends, food, and a damn fun hobby. Even if it doesn’t necessarily involve a man.

Jo Mackenzie, a recently widow with two young children, is leaving London for a small seaside town.  She plans to take over her grandmother’s knitting shop. Jo starts a “Stitch and Bitch” group at the shop, to see if she can encourage more interest in knitting.  The group of women talk, laugh, drink wine and eat great food all while knitting something fabulous.  You laugh at all the irreverent statements made by Ellen, Jo’s saucy-mouthed best friend.  My other favorite is Jo’s grandmother, who is so darn nice and supportive that I wish I had her for my own granny.

Although the book seems like it would be dull, it isn’t. It’s charming and witty. It leaves you feeling like you want to pop into your local yarn shop and pick up some needles and a pattern. I should mention that this book may cause you to have an overwhelming urge to start using British slang.  I started calling my daughter “Poppet” after a bit.

Jo establishes herself in the small town by creating friendships with many of the town members.  For example, there’s Connie and her husband (the Italian trained chef) who own the local pub.  I think Jo reminds me of what most of us try to accomplish every day.  We try hard to be courteous and nice to the people we run into, even though some days we just want to tell you to bugger off. I found myself rooting for Jo, simply because I think she is someone who I would want to be friends with.  She’s honest, loyal, and kind.  She also manages to get the upper hand against the villain in the book: Annabelle Morgan, the snobby PTA president who loves telling people what to do.  (Admit it, you know someone who is annoying like this.)

So here is a sample of something I knitted after I read the books.  Just Kidding!

When my daughter was born, my friend, Joyce, gave me this lovely hand-knitted dress.

If you are in the mood for something leisurely and charming, I recommend these books.  Don’t be surprised if you start hunting around for a local Stitch and Bitch group after you have finished.

Rating: 4/5

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