The Knitting Circle: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

“An intelligent, moving read” (Pages) and “a testament to women’s friendship and to Ann Hood’s talent” (Hilma Wolitzer).


After the sudden loss of her only child, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days. The women welcome her, each teaching Mary a new knitting technique and, as they do, revealing their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually Mary is able to tell her own story of grief and ...
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The Knitting Circle: A Novel

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Overview

“An intelligent, moving read” (Pages) and “a testament to women’s friendship and to Ann Hood’s talent” (Hilma Wolitzer).


After the sudden loss of her only child, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days. The women welcome her, each teaching Mary a new knitting technique and, as they do, revealing their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually Mary is able to tell her own story of grief and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again.
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Editorial Reviews

Carrie Brown
The Knitting Circle was written after Hood's own tragic loss, the death of her young daughter, and it is not hard to imagine the ways in which writing this novel must have been both painful and therapeutic. It is a wondrously simple book about something complicated: the nearly unendurable process of enduring after a great loss. The novel, like knitting, seems to make itself up as it goes along, the threads bound and gathered into a whole. In the end, there is something where there once was nothing: a scarf, a pair of socks, solace where there once was pain. Little by little, by knit and by purl, Mary's empty hands are once again full.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
While mourning the death of her daughter, Hood (An Ornithologist's Guide to Life) learned to knit. In her comeback novel, Mary Baxter, living in Hood's own Providence, R.I., loses her five-year-old daughter to meningitis. Mary and her husband, Dylan, struggle to preserve their marriage, but the memories are too painful, and the healing too difficult. Mary can't focus on her job as a writer for a local newspaper, and she bitterly resents her emotionally and geographically distant mother, who relocated to Mexico years earlier. Still, it's at her mother's urging that Mary joins a knitting circle and discovers that knitting soothes without distracting. The structure of the story quickly becomes obvious: each knitter has a tragedy that she'll reveal to Mary, and if there's pleasure to be had in reading a novel about grief, it's in guessing what each woman's misfortune is and in what order it will be exposed. The strength of the writing is in the painfully realistic portrayal of the stages of mourning, and though there's a lot of knitting, both actual and metaphorical, the terminology's simple enough for nonknitters to follow and doesn't distract from the quick pace of the narrative. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Following her first story collection, An Ornithologist's Guide to Life, Hood's latest novel is definitely gloomy, but the beautiful language and convincing characters make it a worthwhile read. After the sudden death of her five-year-old daughter, Stella, Mary Baxter is advised by her mother that learning to knit will take her mind off her grief. When she joins the local knitting circle, she learns that all of its members have a tragic story as well. As she starts knitting and develops a group of friends who understand the depths of loss, Mary's grief begins to heal, allowing her to return to work, repair her marriage, and learn a terrible secret from her mother. The novel follows a predictable strategy: we hear the story of Mary's tragedy and then that of each member of the knitting circle in turn, as Mary learns a new stitch from each person. The theme of a group of women working together to heal grief is classic, however, and Hood draws her characters sympathetically if unsparingly. Recommended for most libraries-this book will appeal to Oprah readers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/06.]-Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The popular Rhode Island author's eighth novel (Ruby, 1998, etc.) is another domestic melodrama about loss, grief, therapeutic bonding and communal healing. The title denotes the group of female friends hesitantly joined by Providence matron Mary Baxter, following the sudden death of her five-year-old daughter Stella. Gradually forming acquaintances (if not quite friendships) with the women she encounters at "Big Alice's" Sit and Knit, Mary sleepwalks through her days, grasping the tenuous connection that binds her to husband Dylan, edging back toward her part-time job as cultural reporter for a local weekly alternative newspaper. This somewhat static narrative pattern is punctuated by terse phone conversations with her mother Mamie, an alcoholic who has always kept Mary at a distance (and who inexplicably failed to attend her granddaughter's funeral). Then we hear the knitters' personal stories in a sort of Oprah-moderated Decameron. Red-haired beauty Scarlet became involved with a married Parisian, but their affair fell victim to her carelessness. Tough-talking "glass artist" Lulu survived a violent rape. Ellen has a teenaged daughter with a failing heart-and, furthermore, left the close Appalachian community where she grew up to abscond with the charming Irishman who proved unworthy of her love. Embittered Harriet lost loved ones on 9/11, "perfect" supermom Beth suffers from cancer. And so on, through the bad days when Dylan leaves depressive Mary for another woman, until a restorative Christmas season filled with reconciliations, good cheer, completed knitting projects and all that good stuff. The impulse behind this novel is respectable (an author's note discloses that it's based onHood's own very similar experience of loss). But its overload of cliches, redundancy and exceedingly predictable sentimentality fails its good intentions. Readers can only knit their brows in consternation, and hope for a better book next time. Agent: Gail Hochman/Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents Inc.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393067132
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/17/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 77,927
  • File size: 376 KB

Meet the Author

Ann Hood is the author of six works of fiction, including the bestseller The Knitting Circle and, most recently, The Obituary Writer, as well as a memoir, Comfort. She is also the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The winner of two Pushcart prizes as well as Best American Food Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing awards, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 58 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 58 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book

    I just finished reading this book. I had already read The Friday night Knitting Club, and loved it, but I think this book was better. The descriptions of the characters were so much more in depth. I loved how the main character Mary learned how to knit something new and also dealt with her greif through each member of the knitting circle telling her their own story of grief and what it was that brought them to the circle themselves. <BR/>I would reccomend this book to anyone. Even if you aren't a knitter!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    The charactors are so real. You feel what the characters are feeling. They remind you of someone you know. I look forward to reading more of Ann Hood's books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    I could not put it down.

    I read an article of Ann Hood's in More Magazine and was impressed by her style so I ordered the book for my Nook. I could not put this down. As a grandmother in her 60s and a knitter, I have experienced sadness and joys of the women and men in the book. I plan to read more of her books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

    Loved it.

    Great read (although kindof a chick book). I loved the references to knitting, it tied the story through and through. It reminded me of a little knitting store that I used to go to and all the personalities who came to knit. Highly recommended read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Touching story

    I found this book easy to read and I couldn't put it down once I started reading it.
    The author drew me into the story and I fell in love with the characters.
    I didn't want the book to end...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Book You Won't Put Down

    An intertwining tale of humanity seen through love & loyalty, between friends & lovers, alike, as the story brings forth trauma, tragedy & triumph in people's everyday lives. Victory is no longer equated to promotions & corner offices, but rather it's about gathering enough strength to do even the simplest of tasks, like showering or doing laundry, when the lives of so many become plagued with tragedy. It reminds us to be thankful of even the most basic of things, it teaches you to never take life for granted, & that life does in fact go on. This story is invigorating & inspiring, it is a tale of survival.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    Not everyone who knits has a tragic story...

    But you wouldn't know it from this book. This is more a serious of short stories loosely oven together with yarn than a novel. It was entertaining, but not as enthralling as some seem to think. And as an avid knitter, I've never seen " knit two together" abbreviated as "k2 to g," but rather "k2tog." The former doesn't even make sense, but then, neither did much of this bbook.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Loved it

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A beautifully written story of loss and recovery

    I loved this book. I picked it up and put it down twice...once I got past the first chapter, I was hooked. As a mother I related to the main character. The story of loss is heartbreaking but her path back is healing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    Unfortunately what I expected

    As a knitter and a Rhode Islander I enjoyed the book but as a reader I did not. Characters were cliched and unintentionally comical in their tragic lives. The idea was a good one but the characters didn't work for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2009

    Highly Recommended

    I just read this book as a possible suggestion for my book club. I am still thinking about it! It was hard to put down. I believe this book would make a very interesting discussion. I can't wait to share it with others!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2008

    Fantastic!

    Did you like The Friday Night Knitting Club? In my opinion, this book blew it away. The characters and storyline were both so well developed, that I couldn't help but finish the book in ONE DAY! This is definitely a must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2008

    I loved this book!

    This book made me laugh and cry over and over again. Fantastic! A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    How is this not a featured book instead of FNKC?

    I read this book shortly after it came out I also read 'Friday Night Knitting Club.' How this book wasn't as highly featured as FNKC, I'll never know as it was a far superior book. The characters were 'real' and enjoyable. The same can't be said of all of the others that claim this genre. Spending a lot of time in bookstores, I have suggested this book to several who want to read a lighter mystery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    Great book

    This was a hard topic to write about, but Ann Hood did it beautifully. I started fall in love characters and what they were going through. I bought this book by mistake and I wasn't looking forward to reading it, but I am so glad I did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    One of the better knitting genra

    Having read many of the current best-selling knit-lit books, this is by far the best out there right now. Skip selections like 'The Friday Night Knitting Club' or 'Knitting Under the Influence' in favor of this book which actually makes you feel empathy for the main characters. TKC, is right up there with Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    Everyone in this book had a depressing story. It is understandable that main character had a sad store, but it would have been nice to have some good news along with all the bad

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2007

    Inspirational

    As I was reading this book the emotions bubbled up. I thought to myself if Ann Hood did not experience this then someone close to her did. It was no surprise when I learned that she did experience the loss of a child. With her experience she allowed the reader to not only read this experience but to truly feel it. I am sorry that she experienced such a tragic loss however she provided hope that there is life to be lived after someone you love dies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was such a heartwrenching read I didn't know if I could finish it. But, it was so good I had to keep reading. Based on a true life event of the author, this book will stay with me for a long time. When a book brings me to tears, I know it is good. It also made me want to learn how to knit!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    You will LOVE this book!!

    I am now an Ann Hood fan. Everyone knows someone who is like, at least, one of these characters AND knows someone who has had some similar life-altering experience. You will relate (even if knitting is not your thing.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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