Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Review: The Knitting Circle

Summary: After the sudden loss of her only child, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days. The women welcome her, each teaching Mary a new knitting technique and, as they do, revealing their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually Mary is able to tell her own story of grief and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again. - ww norton

I love to read and knit so I thought THE KNITTING CIRCLE by Ann Hood would be perfect for me. I enjoyed the book and the characters, but I have to admit that I didn't realize the book was going to be so sad. Each character that Mary meets in the knitting circle is there because knitting has helped them through some major life crisis. I agree with the idea that knitting is therapeutic -- I'm just glad that the therapy it provides for me is more stress-relieving. After reading this book, I realized that I would love to be part of a weekly knitting circle!

What I didn't know when I started reading this book was that this book was semi-autobiographical. The author tells the reader in the foreward for the reading group guide that she, like Mary, lost a 5 year old daughter. She credits knitting with saving her life. Ms. Hood also says that she met many troubled women through different knitting circles; and knitting "gave comfort and even hope through life's trials" for them too. Knowing that the author was writing this book from her own experiences definitely made the book more touching for me.

One thing I really enjoyed about the novel was how Ms. Hood had quotations from various knitting books at the beginning of each chapter. I also liked how she tied the different parts of the book into knitting terms such as casting on, knit 2 together, and casting off. For example near the end of the book when the characters had developed and began to recover from their trials, the part heading was called "Casting Off." (In knitting, casting off is removing your project from the knitting needles after you have finished.)

While this book didn't really have many surprises for me, I still thought the book was enjoyable. I think that the overall messages in the book are very true. I know that knitting is an outlet for some people and can help them with their troubles. In addition, I believe that finding people with similar interests can lead to beautiful friendships. But what I liked most about the book was the message that you can't start healing yourself until you help others. I hope I can remember this message next time I'm feeling sorry for myself and my little problems.

THE KNITTING CIRCLE does have a lot of themes to talk about such as death of a child, mourning, marital issues, illness, healing and friendships. It would definintely be fun to discuss it with your friends (or your knitting circle or your book club.)

Also reviewed at:
Book Club Classics


heather (errantdreams) said...

If I saw this in a store it never would have occurred to me to look twice at it, but your description sounds absolutely lovely!

Anonymous said...

Interesting message: "that you can't start healing yourself until you help others." Isn't that contrary to the idea that you have to love yourself before you can love another? or some such... ? I don't knit but I enjoy crafting and you've intrigued me with your review. Thank you, Care

Julie P. said...

I'm worried that I didn't explain myself very well in the review. The main character Amy was so caught up in mourning her daughter that she couldn't let go. It wasn't until she saw other peoples' pain and helped them that she was able to start healing herself.

Anonymous said...

I've seen that book now in paperback and if I wasn't on a self impossed book diet (which I've broken one too many times already) then I would high tale it to the nearest book store. I just guess it will have to wait!

melanie said...

I liked this book more than I thought. I don't knit, but it made it sound really appealing. And I liked that it was sad, it separated it from all the light stuff out there.(which I like, but not a steady diet) Thanks for the review.

Melissa N. said...

Hi Julie -- I read this book a while ago, and I too, found it extremely sad. But, life can be very sound and I did enjoy the book.