Friday, October 21, 2011

Alice's Review: Needles and Pearls

Needles and Pearls: A NovelSummary:  A brief affair after the death of her philandering husband yields a surprising result for a shopkeeper in McNeil's warm and fuzzy sequel to The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. Jo Mackenzie's succeeded in rehabbing her Gran's wool shop in Broadgate, a lovely seaside town in England. Her Stitch and Bitch class is popular; her two young boys, Archie and Jack, have settled in; and her Gran's getting married. But Jo's liaison with Daniel Fitzgerald, a globe-trotting photographer, has ended, leaving Jo to sort out what's next. Big changes and a bevy of stressful obstacles test her mettle and reorder her world. Will Martin Trent, the newly divorced son of her Gran's friend, be a part of it? It's a little on the chatty side, but McNeil spins a comfy, hopeful yarn with believable characters. ~Amazon.com

Review:  I picked up Needles and Pearls on my hunt for a novel with a gem in the title as part of the “What’s in a Name” challenge. (A pearl is a gem, yes?) And as a beginning knitter, I thought I would enjoy this.

The novel begins one year after the death of Jo’s cheating husband. When I first picked this up, I didn’t know it was the second novel in Gil McNeil’s Jo Mackenzie series. Being the second in the series, Ms. McNeil did a great job developing Needles and Pearls without leaving me feeling I was missing something. The story continues over the next few months of Jo’s life with many twists and surprises around each corner. What sets Jo apart is how she deals with these surprises.

Jo is quite the heroine. She is funny, charming, strong, but above all, she is full of grace. And if that’s not enough, she is so authentic, I fully expect to visit her shop and have tea with her on a future trip to England. I think it’s a challenge to write a character that is so real in spite of everything that has happened to her and that is exactly what Ms. McNeil has done.

Needles and Pearls is laugh out loud funny at times. It reads like a TV comedy about a shopkeeper in a small town coastal with quite a cast of zany characters. Some of those characters are quite famous, some are “common” folk, and there is even an authentic Lady thrown in for good measure. She has an overbearing mother, a loving grandmother, two spunky young sons, Britain’s most loved journalist as a best friend, a famous actress as a client, the boy next door as a love interest, and a crazy large dog named Trevor who wants to adopt her. Whew! Don’t even get me started on the shop ladies.

I enjoyed the friendship among the ladies, but more than anything I adored the promise of a romance between Martin (the boy next door) and Jo. I am pleased the author didn’t rush through their courtship. It was a refreshing change to see Jo think about what is best for her family instead of her own interests. It was also refreshing to see Martin give Jo the space and friend support she needed. He was a gentleman and I loved that about him.

Needles and Pearls didn’t temp me to pick up The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club to find out where it all began but I am looking forward to reading the third novel in this series Knit One, Pearl One.

Above all, I loved the sense of friendship embraced by the women involved. The “Stitch and Bitch” group was more than a casual place to go once a week. It was a place where the woman came together to gather comfort and strength from each other as well as knitting tips. The novel, like The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, is a testament to friendship tightly woven with one knit and one purl at a time.

Final Take:  4/5
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2 comments :

Fancy Terrible October 21, 2011 at 6:02 PM  

Please tell me you've discovered Ravelry?

Alice October 24, 2011 at 8:25 AM  

No I haven't and thank you for introducting me to it.

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