Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Knitting Circle and a learning experience

After having just finished two books on very tough and tragic subjects in the past two days, loving both of them, I really think I've discovered something about myself. If a book is light or humorous, I simply don't enjoy it as much as when the subject matter is based on something sad. Is this wrong? Am I strange? What is going on in this head of mine? The reading slump I was stuck in a few days ago started when I tried to steer away from the intense topics and move towards lighter subjects. The slump ended with Watching the Tree Limbs, a very sad and emotional book. I really think that I just connect more to the characters when there is that strong level of emotional intensity. Without it the characters, as well as the plot, just seem flat and empty. Now this isn't true for every book, for example, I love Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cover series, as well as her Blossom Street series (starting the newest one tonight), but for the most part I need dark and sad. I'm weird. Oh well.

Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle, was fantastic. It was one of those books I was wary about reading at first, only because the main plot line was about a woman losing her young daughter and the ways in which she begins to deal with her grief. I'm not sure if you remember the review I did on A. Manette Ansay's Blue Water, but I have become very picky when losing children is a main focus. The writer has to get the story just right, in order to prevent the characters from becoming whiny and incredibly self absorbed. Ansay failed at that, but Hood aced it. The characters were rich and lovely, not at all contrived or selfish. I loved this book and I think I now love Ann Hood!

Mary has just recently lost her five year old daughter, Stella, to meningitis. She can't get out of bed, can't work, and can't communicate with her husband, but her mother insists that she go out and learn to knit, stating that it will help begin the healing process. Mary wants nothing to do with her seemingly insensitive mother that couldn't even come to Stella's funeral, but eventually relents and heads to the knitting shop her mother recommends. There, we meet an excellent variety of women, each in the middle of her own healing process, all using knitting to help them heal. There's Scarlet, a compassionate woman still realing from an unfortunate accident that has left her wracked with guilt, Beth, an upperclass woman of perfection whose own life has begun to crumble, Ellen, a mother who's daughter is in desparate need of a new heart, LuLu an eccentric soul recovering from a violent attack many years ago, and even Big Alice herself, the owner of Sit and Knit that has her own skeletons in the closet. Through their knitting and their stories, these women help each other through the toughest of times, never forgetting that it was knitting that brought them all together.

It is very obvious that Hood spent a lot of time crafting each of the characters in the novel. All of the women appear to be main characters, never being cheated out of enough time to tell their story simply because Mary is "supposed" to be the main character. It was a truly lovely story that I could not put down, racing through it to find out what happens with each woman. I was never disappointed and always satisfied. 5 out of 5 from me!

This novel has finally made me want to get up off my butt and learn to knit. I read every fiction book on the subject, but because of the lack of classes and/or knitting shops around here, I've never had the opportunity to learn. However, I've spoken with many people who have simply taught themselves and I see no reason why I can't do the same thing. Once I get back from my honeymoon, I'm going to try and find the best books to help teach myself and get started on that baby blanket I want to make so badly. If any of you knitters out there can recommend book for me to try out or have any tips, please send them my way! Thanks!


Cee Cee said...

I don't think you're weird to want to read serious storylines. Do you think you crave balance while planning your wedding? You know what I mean? Since I experienced a tragic event and will become blue sometimes, I find myself picking up more comedies. But I hate to admit: the books I find compelling are usually serious books. Mmm. They even say a comedy will never win an Oscar.

You may have hit on something Amanda!

zee said...

A funny books is great; but a funny book with some sadness is even better. I always want to couple my humor and sadness together. This is why I like Chick lit so much. You get both.