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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Knit Two - Kate Jacobs - Review - Plus Interview

Knit Two - Kate Jacobs

Knit Two Description:

Kate Jacobs reveals the latest adventures and predicaments of the Knitting Club members in her eagerly anticipated sequel, Knit Two. There have been some major changes over the five years since their tearful goodbye to Georgia Walker, the woman who brought this unlikely crew together in the first place. After Georgia's untimely death from ovarian cancer, the members of the club banded together to protect and guide her young biracial daughter, Dakota. Now a college student, Dakota is not sure she needs such intense foster mothering anymore, and she also butts heads with her devoted and perhaps over-protective father, James.

Peri, the manager of Walker and Daughter, also has her own successful line of knit handbags, but sometimes resents the fact that she has no time for a personal life. Lucie's career in film is soaring, but the demands of being a single mother and the declining health of her own mother have her at wit's end. Following a series of miscarriages, the feminist historian, Darwin, has at last become the mother of twins. After two divorces, KC has decided that her new career as a lawyer and being child-free suit her well, but menopause is another story entirely. Divorcée Catherine runs an upscale antiques store in the Hudson Valley but struggles to find true romantic contentment. Anita, the seventy-something widow who is like a mother to the entire club, is ready to walk down the aisle with her new soul mate, but must first overcome the objections of her three grown sons.

When a series of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances brings four of the knitting club members to Italy for the summer, they embark on an unforgettable journey of romance, self-discovery, and surprises. Each of the four is in search of something different: Dakota, a sense of direction; Lucie, a boost to her professional standing; Anita, a lost sister; and Catherine, herself. Meanwhile, Peri, Darwin, and KC tend to their knitting back in New York and offer their support from across the ocean.

With Knit Two, Kate Jacobs has once again woven a deeply satisfying story of friendship, family, and connection with a light but sure touch. A valentine to the power of women's friendships—and knitting, of course—it will surely delight the legions of readers who took The Friday Night Knitting Club to heart.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book tremendously. I loved friendships in the book and the sprinkling in of the knitting projects. Not so much as the glue that holds the women together but the flavor. Like the bananas in banana bread. I am a knitter and I have never had the pleasure of being part of a knitting group but I am in a book club and I can seriously relate to this book! I really enjoyed the Friday Night Knitting Club for the knitting, the yarn and the close women's friendships.

In Knit Two, the sequel to the Friday Night Knitting Club, I found more than just a knitting group. I found a group of friends like my own. Friends of all ages and backgrounds that come together in a unique and lasting way. All the women in the group have needs, insecurities, problems, and things they are working out. This book is about those things. This book is about accepting your friends and growing up. In this book we learn it is never too late to forgive, to grow up or change your mind.

This book was different than the Friday Night Knitting Club, and yet it was like going home. So many of characters remind me of my own club. The Page Turner Book Club. We will celebrate 6 years of friendship through books. And now we are family. Just like Dakota, Peri, Anita, K.C., Lucie, Darwin, and Catherine. We know each others spouses, dogs, hubby's, boyfriends, cats, moms, dads and grandchildren.

In reviewing the book as our January 2009 Book Club selection, one member quoted a part of the book.

..."they were a family, too. A family of choice. The club wasn't only the club if they were in the same room. They probably weren't all going to be in the same city. And the club was not about the shop. It never had been, that was just there starting point..."
Our club is no longer about the books, it is about us. She (my friend) mentioned that it was books that brought us together, but it is not what has kept us together. When I hit that part in the book I just sobbed as I thought of our own group.

Dakota's story for me is one the kept the tears flowing for me in this story. I can't imagine her struggle to move on and make her life without her mom. I was continually moved by Dakota and her strength in facing her loss of her mother and her struggles with her independence.

In the book we take a journey to Italy. What a blast that was. I enjoyed and savoured this journey. I recommend this book. There is a lot of good girl stuff packed into this book, cooking, traveling, knitting, births, engagements, single parenting, shoes and shopping!!

A Review from my good friend Dar, Peeking Between the Pages.

A Conversation with Kate Jacobs (reposting from 11/24/2008)

Did you think you’d write a sequel as soon as you finished The Friday Night Knitting Club, or did that decision come later?

I was exhausted right after finishing The Friday Night Knitting Club! It was my first novel and I was ready for a good, long nap after all that writing! Though, in all seriousness, I had some other characters rumbling around in my brain and their stories deserved telling. So I wrote Comfort Food. That said, I always had a future mapped out for the members of the knitting club, and, after hearing from so many fans who were eager to know what happens, it didn’t seem fair to just keep it all to myself. Writing this sequel was truly a joy, and I’m excited to share the new book with readers.

Without giving too much away, are there things that will surprise readers in KNIT TWO?

KNIT TWO is set about five years after the first book, and all of the characters are older and, in some cases, more mature. Dakota is in college now. Though just because we get older doesn’t always make us wiser! There are new friendships between the characters, folks who didn’t know each other as well in the original, and overall the sequel is much more upbeat than the ending of the first book.

Which character do you identify with most strongly? How much of yourself did you put into these characters?

Well, I really love all the characters – I forgive them all their flaws and mistakes. I identify with many of the struggles the characters have, to some degree, but that is something many women could say. Issues about career, about getting married, about mapping out our lives (and learning how quickly things can go off-road). I’m there in the book, and then again I’m not there. Sometimes I put personal things in quite consciously – I did that more with Comfort Food, in which the best friend has the same last name as my best friend, for example. Other times, little bits of me just seep into the characters, and it could be a favorite food they have or a pet peeve. But I tend not to write one fully developed character who is a stand-in for me – that would be too revealing!

To what extent are the characters based on your own circle of family and friends?

In The Friday Night Knitting Club, I could point to Georgia’s Gran and the similarities with my own grandmother, who was a great knitter, great baker, and great lady. And so opinionated! Or I could share that when I was a little kid, I loved to bake – as Dakota does – and then when I was a teenager I was so like Darwin, who is suspicious of everything domestic. In KNIT TWO, the characters have all continued to grow and change, and Gran is mostly off-page in Scotland. So they’re all moving beyond these similarities and truly becoming themselves.

Your characters are of different races, religions, and economic backgrounds, but their friendship mostly transcends those factors. That said, Dakota, Georgia’s daughter, has to confront some issues related to her biracial background. So what does all this say about the way these kinds of differences affect friendships between women in the real world?

My personal world is made up of friends and family who are different from me – and so I think it’s important that the group in the novel be multiracial, multigenerational, and have different religions and sizes of bank accounts. That’s real. Because at our core, regardless of differences, I think we all share similar desires for community and connection. We want to love and be loved. And, like the women in KNIT TWO, most of our conversations revolve around what we’re dealing with in any given moment, whether it’s something about our work or our family. In other words, our struggles and similarities form the basis for our friendships. That said, differences do remain. It’s important to be honest about them, not to pretend they don’t exist. It is very difficult to ever fully comprehend another person’s struggles when we cannot personally relate, when we haven’t walked in their shoes. That’s why compassion is such a crucial element in a relationship. And why I try to bring compassion to writing honestly in my novels.

KNIT TWO is primarily a story of friendships between women, like The Friday Night Knitting Club, but you also include some significant male characters, and there’s one particularly close but platonic male-female friendship. Women’s friendships are certainly special, but can men join the circle, too, maybe as associate members?

Of course men can join! And it’s not just characters. Over the past year, I’ve heard from a handful of men who’ve read the book, and that’s been a delight. Personally, my husband is my best friend, and many women I know have important men in their lives. It seemed only appropriate that men have a place in the novel, and developing the platonic friendship was a way to show a male character in more than just the role of the love interest.

What is it about knitting that makes it so popular right now, both traditional and hip at the same time?

Knitting is a lot of things all wrapped up in a ball of yarn. It’s memory of good old days and sweet grandmothers. It can be an assertion of personality, of irony, of creativity. It can be a luxurious indulgence using the fanciest materials, and it can be a budget-minded holiday scarf using yarn on sale. You can knit all alone, or you can find a group and knit with them. Knitting has the flexibility to meet our needs for a creative and emotional outlet, and it has a very soothing rhythm. It nurtures, and I think that’s a very good thing in times of uncertainty.

How’s your own knitting going? When do you find time for it?

I have so many half-finished projects it is becoming ridiculous! Our guest room has turned into a stash room, which is good for me but crowded for guests. I’ve moved into my afghan phase – well, it’s more about throws I can make in one piece – and that’s all I want to knit lately. The only hiccup – and it’s a good problem to have – is that I’m so busy writing, talking to book clubs, going on tour, and so on that I only have time for a few rows here or there. However, knitting on large needles has really helped stretch out my wrists, which can become stressed after being perched on the keyboard all day. So now I have an excuse to sneak in a little knitting!

The Friday Night Knitting Club was extremely popular with reading groups, and you spoke to many of them by phone. Will you do the same thing for KNIT TWO?

Absolutely! I talk to about 40 clubs every month. It’s good fun. The telephone call-ins started when a group from Minnesota invited me to chat with them during their meeting. I was nervous but I ended up having such a good time that I blogged about the experience at katejacobs.com. Suddenly, I had more invitations, and that’s when I decided to put a button on my website. Now I talk to clubs any day of the week. I’ve talked to clubs from the back of a cab, standing in a line for missing luggage at the airport, driving a rental car on a visit home to see my parents. (I had a headset so I was driving hands free!) Setting up the calls is easy: A member of a group just needs to send me the date & time of their club’s get-together and if I can fit it in, I will!

A big part of KNIT TWO takes place in Italy. Did you travel there on research? How tough a trip was that?

Oh, terribly difficult, trying to figure out how to eat everything and see everything! No, it was delightful, of course, every day filled with new discoveries. My husband was with me and we both love history and walking and hearty dishes of pasta, so it was a perfect trip for us. We learned a lot, I would say, as do the characters in KNIT TWO. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we have to go somewhere else to see what we already know?

Food plays an important role in both The Friday Night Knitting Club and KNIT TWO. You’ve also written a novel about a cooking show called Comfort Food. Are knitting and friendship and food all intimately connected with one another? Is that why you include both knitting instructions and recipes at the end of KNIT TWO?

Well, food keeps us going, after all. I write often about characters trying to nourish themselves, typically in an emotional sense but also in a physical sense. And whereas cooking is an important part of many characters’ lives in Comfort Food, baking is significant to one member of the Friday Night Knitting Club. I know sometimes kids change their ideas of what they want to do multiple times, but I always knew what I wanted to do. So does Dakota. As for the pattern and recipes, it can be fun to have little extras in a book. Not to mention that almost every book club I speak with has made Dakota’s muffins from The Friday Night Knitting Club, so I thought they needed a new recipe to try!

New York City -- the Upper West Side of Manhattan, to be specific – is almost another character in the book. You grew up in western Canada, lived in New York for a long time, and now live in Los Angeles. But New York continues to have a hold on your imagination. Why?

That’s something I’ve thought about very often, in fact. You know, I didn’t like New York very much when I initially moved there. Too loud, too busy. It didn’t feel like my place. But a couple of things happened. For one thing, I made a great group of friends – we used to always get together on Tuesday nights (and no, we didn’t knit!) – and that helped make New York feel more like a community. For another, I met the man who became my husband, and he grew up just outside the city. But I suppose also the mix of having my first apartment, my first job, becoming an adult, all happened in New York. And being in the city on 9/11 solidifies a connection, that’s for sure. While I do love California – the weather is amazing, the people friendly – right now I feel that I understand, in an intimate way, small-town Canada and urban Manhattan. And I don’t think I’ll ever be done exploring the lives of New Yorkers. Frankly, I think of myself as a Canadian-born New Yorker who just happens to live on the West Coast. As I say in my books, it’s all about defining yourself as you want to be.

Do you have a website where readers can get in touch with you and learn more about your books?

I am always reachable at www.katejacobs.com. I check my own email, typically daily, and love to hear from readers. I get a kick out of emails that begin with “Please tell Kate…” It’s me! Plus the website has a list of my tour events, a blog and all the relevant news about the books, including first chapter excerpts and reading guides. In addition, I post almost every interview or podcast I do, so there is a lot of material to find out more.

Are you working on a new book now?

I’ve been asked this question often lately – which I suppose is a good thing! Yes, I am happily working on a new book already. There are a lot of stories I want to tell. But I’m a bit particular about not talking about what I’m writing until it’s quite far along. So you won’t get any details yet!

What is the core message of KNIT TWO? What do you hope readers take away from it?

The Friday Night Knitting Club was about forgiveness, about getting beyond regret and moving forward. It was also about becoming independent and learning to live on one’s own terms, as well as this idea of how important it is to have strong female friendships, and to recognize and honor those relationships. KNIT TWO is about the power of legacy, about how we hold on so tightly because we’re afraid to let go – and how sometimes the letting go allows us to keep a better hold on things in the long run. This story is about falling into patterns and figuring out if and when it’s time to break those patterns. About when it’s time for acceptance and when it’s time to be courageous and be bold. It’s about the idea that success is a journey, not a sprint, and that the answers for one moment in our lives may not be the answers for another. Ultimately, KNIT TWO is a novel about hope.


Anonymous said...

This is one book that I see at work and always forget to pick up the first! D:

Did you find the first to be better or on the same level as the sequel?

Kaye said...

I keep meaning to get this book and then forget about it. I don't know why because you make it sound so good!
We sure could use a little hope at this point.

bermudaonion said...

Great review and interview. I want to read both of the Friday Night Knitting Club books.

Jenny Girl said...

Excellent interview!

Thoughts of Joy said...

I have The Friday Night Knitting Club on my TBR shelf - have to read that one first. Ahhh, so many books, so little time!

Darlene said...

Toni, that is such an awesome review! All the sappy stuff about the PT's brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure grateful to have you all in my life.

Anonymous said...

I have the Friday Night Knitting Club in my TBR and keep meaning to get to it. Loved your review of the sequel - now I really want to start on the first book.

Toni said...

Thanks everyone. I really enjoyed the book. You know sometimes a book can affect a person differently at a different time. This was the perfect time for me to read it.

Bonnie said...

What a great review and interview Toni! I loved the first book and this one as well. I hope that she continues this as a series!

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Dissertation Writing said...

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