Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book Lust: The Friday Night Knitting Club

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Kate Jacobs' debut novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club, is by all rights and circumstances, categorized as chic-lit.   The vast majority of the characters are female.  They struggle with their roles as single parents, as trophy wives, as widows and long-distance wives.   Classic chic-lit fodder: not especially intellectual, challenging, nor surprising in plot.  But there is something about it... something that sticks. 

The story is primarily Georgia's, a single mother in New York City, whose knitting shop begets a motley crew of personality and energy as the supporting women come together through their love of knitting and are surprised to find support in each other as each of their lives are challenged in unexpected ways.  

"Young people... never really thought about the generations ahead being the same as they were, she knew.  Every pair of lovers thinks they invented sex.  No one wants to consider that at seventy-two, she'd like to be kissed quite thoroughly by a man who loved her, that she still felt desire, and that not having anyone to whisper to under the covers was louder than silence."  

Told in a straight-forward style, Jacobs' voice exhibits a deftness of style and honesty that is not often found in her genre.   The story is told with a light touch, a subtlty that creates a sense of depth and reality in an otherwise cliched fictional environment.   Despite the fairly large number of story lines and character developments, Jacobs' plot moves, not because of the characters themselves, but as a direct result of the place Georgia has created.   

The Friday Night Knitting Club is an homage to the power of a place.   Interweaving personal narrative, wisdom in the guise of knitting lessons, and a splash of  modern-day New York "Steel Magnolias," Kate Jacobs has successfully created a space for her characters to find their true voices, laugh, cry, and ultimately begin to heal wounds that cannot be touched with words alone.  

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