Friday, May 18, 2007


Title: The Friday Night Knitting Club
Author: Kate Jacobs

This is going to be full of spoilers. There’s a very climactic event toward the end of the book that’s totally going to be discussed here. If you ever considered reading this book, don’t go past like the second paragraph or so of this.

Georgia Walker is the single mother of a 12-year-old daughter, Dakota. She and her boyfriend at the time, James, became pregnant, and then he ran off to France, deserting her, though occasionally sending money.

Georgia was sitting in Central Park, very pregnant, and knitting, when she met Anita, an older woman with an incredibly generous nature; it was a day or so before she was about to go home to her father and rather judgemental mother. Anita saw her knitting, admired her pattern, and, respecting her pride, offered her a commission to make a sweater. As it turns out, Anita was also an avid knitter.

Over the years, with a loan from Anita (the widow of a very wealthy man), Georgia started a knitting shop, selling all kinds of fantastic yarn, but she also always harbored a dream of designing and knitting her own creations. She picked up a group of friends, some of whom were talented knitters, and others who were just good people who attempted to knit but never finished anything.

Eventually, they started just hanging around the shop on Friday nights, and it quickly turned into the Friday Night Knitting Club. Dakota, who loves to bake, uses them as guinea pigs. There’s a whole gaggle of characters – Lucie, the freelance video producer who’s over 40 and single, and who decided it was time to have a child. KC, a publisher, who Georgia worked with pre-Dakota. Peri, the former law student who gave up school to design and make a line of purses that are being carried by Bloomies. Darwin, a grad student who starts out very dismissive of these women who waste time on such an archaic hobby. Cat, Georgia’s best friend from high school who betrayed her and broke their promise to go to college together, ending up taking over her spot at Dartmouth, who ended up a trophy wife, and who, over the course of the book, leaves her incredibly awful husband, and discovers she can be herself again.

James, Dakota’s father, comes back, and wants to get to know Dakota, meeting her for the first time as a 12-year-old. He realizes he’s still in love with Georgia. Eventually, they work back towards each other, though not enough to really reveal it to Dakota, in case she gets her hopes up too high and things go awry.

Anita discovers she can fall in love again (at 72) with Marty, the owner of the deli downstairs from the knitting shop.

I read this while wishing I was good enough at knitting to make it worthwhile to purchase real yarns, like those sold at a knitting store, instead of the cheap acrylics from craft stores that I always end up playing with.

Lucie encourages Georgia to make some “how-to-knit” videos, which come together no problem, but she has so much extra footage that she makes a documentary about the knitting club. They plan a showing/release at the shop.

Georgia seems like such an incredible person – she succeeded as a single mother, raising an independent daughter while simultaneously establishing and running a business.

And then the shit hits the fan.

(this would be the part where we get into the major spoiler)

Georgia makes an appointment for Anita to see a gynecologist, since she’s been widowed for a good 10 years before starting this relationship with Marty; the receptionist coerces her into making an appointment for herself, since it’s been a while (hello, single mom with a business = no sex for years and years, so she didn’t bother).

And they found a tumor on her ovary. An aggressive one. Georgia has incredibly aggressive surgery, losing her ovaries, uterus, etc., and then having to suffer through chemo for weeks.

The knitting club rallies around her. They knit her an afghan – even the members who can barely finish a row manage an entire stripe.

Lucie goes into labor at the shop; as she and Darwin (her labor coach) rush to catch a cab to the hospital, Georgia also experiences incredible pain in her abdomen, and she’s right behind Lucie and Darwin in another cab.

Georgia has sepsis; she’s around long enough to talk to her daughter, James, Anita, and other friends, and then passes away. (I can’t begin to summarize that part.) I cried. I never cry from books; occasionally (though rarely movies), but never books. And I’m not going to blame it on the wine with dinner.

The knitting club documentary showing is already scheduled for less than a week later; it goes on, though the group barely registers what’s happening, and it’s a success.

The book ends on a hopeful note – Cat (back to Cathy, now) has started an antiques shop out in a distant NYC suburb. Dakota is living with James, and Anita moved in with Marty. Darwin reconciled with her long-distance husband (he had a residency in LA), and KC found a new, more satisfying job. Lucie, up all night every night with her baby, is editing the documentary for submission to the Tribeca film festival, and, under Peri’s management, the knitting shop is still going strong.
The story is much more nuanced than I make it sound. Very enjoyable.


posted by ket at 12:05 AM


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