02 December 2015

The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown

Summary from Goodreads:
Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen….

Let's see...knitting, Christmas, romance, tiny English village, nerdy things...yes, please, I will read a book about all these things together.  The Great Christmas-Knit Off by Alexandra Brown seemed to have the Venn diagram intersection of all these things.

This is a sweet, heartwarming, and lovely book to read in the run-up to the holidays. Civil servant Sybil (Sybs, to her friends) has been coasting on auto-pilot after her fiancee left her standing at the altar - dressed in Princess Leia's hair-buns and white robe - and ran off with her identical twin sister.  Her parents are clueless and image obsessed.  She's not sleeping.  And now that there's a massive mistake in a council estate claim, one that Sybil worries she might have caused, she needs to escape London for a weekend.  Lucky for Sybs, her best friend has just opened a pub in the picturesque town of Tindledale so she packs up her adorable dog Basil and her knitting for a weekend away.  Sybs stays for the month. The welcoming people of Tindledale - from the flamboyant American proprietor of the B&B to the perfectly dressed owner of the vintage clothing shop to the local estate owner - bring Sybil friendly ears to listen and shoulders to cry on and the occasional life-lesson.  There's even an adorkable Irish doctor.  When Sybs discovers the local knitting shop, Hettie's House of Haberdashery, and Hettie's own troubles, Sybil finds the one thing she has been lacking: purpose.

Now, as wonderful and heartwarming and charming as Sybil's story is, I have to comment on the writing style.  The first-person, present-tense point-of-view narration with lots and lots and lots of adjectives used in this book is not for everyone.  "I kick the door with my red Converse sneaker" is not a sentence that sits well with me and there were times where Sybil's memory and Sybil's present situation got entangled.  There were times when the tense and descriptions worked really well - in Hettie's shop or the vintage clothing store - and other times it just grated.  There were also a few switches to a third-person perspective for scenes with Hettie when Sybs wasn't present and these felt unnecessary.

Style aside, the heart of this book is in the right place. If you are looking for a heartwarming December read and a romance that is, if not a Happily-Ever-After ending, at least a Happy-For-Now ending, complete with knitting, Christmas sweaters, snow, quaint villages, quirky villagers, and cute dogs The Great Christmas Knit-Off is for you.  Snuggle up with a blanket and hot cocoa and you'll be a happy camper for a few hours at least.

Dear FTC: I received a finished review copy of this book from the publisher.

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