Monday, August 24, 2009

Blog Tour: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love (from the publisher):
"Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other."

My thoughts:
What are the essential ingredients of an enjoyable fiction novel? For me, it is characters that are easy to relate to, a pleasant setting and a plot that has challenges and resolutions. Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love has all of these essentials and more. The dialogue is believable, the characters are authentic and the setting feels comfortably familiar. Let's just take a brief look at these diverse characters.

Eugenie ~ a mid sixties librarian who has been the town spinster until very recently and is now married to Paul, local minister, with whom she was involved in her youth. Eugenie can be a bit stern and set in her ways, especially when running the lit society monthly meeting, but underneath she has a heart with a lot of soft spots. Eugenie has recently become Hannah's legal guardian.

Hannah ~ a 15 year old very independent young woman whose upbringing or lack thereof has left her with some indelible emotional scars. She may be quiet at times but she is fully aware of what's happening around her and shows some very mature insight about the people in the story.

Camille ~ has always wanted to escape Sweetgum as she feels she is trapped there due to financial and family obligations. When an old flame shows up in town, she does her best to avoid him. How long can she hold out and will she decide Sweetgum is really the place for her? Will the potential for love trap her or free her?

Maria ~ just lost her father and is now the sole support of her mother and sisters. Having to give up their home, they are reduced to living above the family owned five and dime store. Maria has joined the knit lit society at Eugenie's invitation.

Esther Jackson~ newly widowed, Esther finds out her financial situation is shaky and her present extravagant lifestyle is in jeopardy. Esther is a very proud older woman who does not know how to lighten up and enjoy life. Esther had thought marriage was about making the right alliance, not nonsense about dying for love.

Merry ~ is a devoted mother whose world has been turned upside down when her husband wants her to work for him full time. His law practice is teetering on bankruptcy and he needs her help. She is torn between wifely duties and motherhood, especially when one of her children is in jeopardy.

When Eugenie suggests the knit lit society read Romeo and Juliet and knit a project that will complement the book selection, the other five women aren't too sure this is a good idea. Eugenie first asks them what love means to them. This is the one of the themes of the book. All of the women find challenges in their daily life due to love and duty to their families. How they all resolve these challenges is an emotional journey that takes them in different directions. They eventually learn how to share their feelings, help and support each other in some difficult times while learning a few things about themselves.

Although this is a stand alone novel, I would recommend reading The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society. This first book in the series tells the story of how Hannah and Eugenie met in the library and why Eugenie got Hannah involved in the knit and lit group. These books are written with such charm and feeling that I thoroughly enjoyed them. There seems to be something special about Southern small towns and the people who live there. Ms. Pattillo's writing transports you to that world and makes you feel part of each family. This book would make an excellent book club choice as there are many avenues of discussion that can be explored. For an easy, satisfying, feel- good read, The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love is an excellent choice. 4****

Author Bio: RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program. Beth Pattillo learned to knit in the second grade. she is the author of nine books including Heavens to Betsy and Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Beth lives with her husband and children in Tennessee. Ms. Pattillo's website can be found here.

A big thank you to Ashley at Waterbrook Press/Random House for a copy of this fine book and inviting me to participate in the tour.


  1. Great review, Kaye! I would want to read this after reading your review as it is the kind of book I like to just fall into and enjoy. I think it is interesting that there are so many authors who knit and have knitting as part of their stories. I knitted a sweater for my dad in college as my roommate was an avid knitter and she taught me....too ADD for me, I guess as when it wasn't finished in a couple of days, well, she helped me finish and I loved my dad cause he wore it but I wouldn't was awful!

  2. Nice review, Kaye. I'm adding it to the TBR list as well as the first book. Thanks : )

  3. Great review, you sure make the book sound very charming and something that i would like to have a look at.

  4. This does sound good. I would want to read the other book first just because I like to read series in order.

  5. LOVE your review Kaye! I always enjoy these types of books and it's good to know what others have found. I'm splitting up my books for this tour too since there is way too much to put together in one post. What was I thinking?? Thanks! :)

  6. Great review: it sounds like my kind of book. it seems like romance has certainly changed, i met my husband through and 7 years later i'm starting to sound like a lady from the book all knitting and no blogging!

  7. Wow, excellent review. I may have to put this on my list!


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