The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
After reading Comfort Food by the same author, I was interested in reading more of her work. The deal was clinched when I saw that she has two books about a knitting club. Knitting is one of those skills I've not yet mastered, though would love to do so. This knitting club is made up of a diverse group of New Yorkers, and not all of them have a love of knitting, but somehow find themselves involved in this club.
The store owner, Georgia, is a single mother, who started her shop as a way to support her daughter, Dakota, after being left by the baby's father. There is an interesting family dynamic which goes on because the mother is white, the father is black and the child is cafe-au-lait. The father resurfaces when the child is 12. The story of their family, though different, is very beautiful and moving.
There is a point in the book where Georgia is brought into a Catholic church and later where she has a heart-to-heart with a priest. As a Catholic, I'm always intrigued by the portrayal of the Church in novels. It strikes me that when lives come to crisis, often times in books and movies, we will find reference to the Catholic church, whether obvious or subtle, it is often there.
Amongst the club members, we find a feminist grad student who attends the club meetings as research for her thesis, her major is Women's Studies. She ends up learning more through this group than she ever intended. There is a socialite from Georgia's past who joins when she leaves her loveless marriage, a middle aged woman going through a career change, a designer, a single woman who is pregnant because she wanted a baby and not a relationship, an elderly woman who is a mother figure for Georgia, and a host of other characters round out the story.
The language in this story is occasionally more coarse than I prefer to read, but the story is well written, and the events brought me to tears. Interestingly, the only character who is at all similar to the stereotype of a knitter is Anita, the elderly widow, and it is a stretch to label her as such. There is a second book, called Knit Two, which follows up on the group, five years later. I have not read the second book.
UPDATE: My husband informs me, The Secret Life of Bees, previously discussed here, is going to be made into a movie. I cannot wait.