I tend to be a bit guarded when referred titles that come from the new sub-genre of chick lit/knitting fiction; a number have the feeling that the plot has been recycled just so someone could add a main character who knits/learns to knit and then knitting/yarn/yarn shop/SnB saves the day. Hurrah. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (aka TBSKSAYC) gives the genre a whole new look. First off, Jo is written as a very confident woman and knitter who is able to turn a tragedy into a workable real-life solution; she comes across as someone you might want to know in real life, so kudos to Gil McNeil. The supporting characters are also wonderfully rendered, particularly Jo's two boys, who reminded me very much of my brothers when they were kindergarten-age, and Jo's wacky BBC-broadcaster/best friend Ellen. Secondly, I am very grateful to the publishers for not "translating" the Britishisms into Americanisms for the US publication; much of what gives the book it's "real" feeling is the language and the entire story would have deflated if the sense of place was lost. Even though the plot of TBSKSAYC does revolve somewhat around Jo's life as the new owner of a yarn shop, no previous knitting experience is required to enjoy the book; what makes the story sparkle are Jo's descriptions of her life, either dealing with the moving company, trying to get two rambunctious boys to eat all their veg, or dealing with the paparazzi when a glamorous movie star patronizes the shop (sometimes all three at once). TBSKSAYC is a perfect read for summer vacation, whether just lying about on a beach somewhere or just wishing that you were. Jo's story is endearing and you'll find yourself rooting for her when she goes toe-to-toe with PTA mom Annabel Morgan or Jo's snooty in-laws.
Thanks very much to Hyperion for sending me a review copy. I enjoyed the book.