Paperback, 396 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Voice
Knit One Pearl One is the third book in the series. Although this is the first one I read, I was caught right up on Jo Mackenzie's life as a single mom and knit shop owner through conversations with her friends, Gran and through her inner dialogue. Easily a stand alone read.
This is one one those quiet books that sort of sneaks up on you; not a lot of dramatic action but after only a few pages, I looked upon Jo, her wonderful Gran, her friends Grace, Connie and Ellen as friends of mine too. These characters became very real to me with down-to-earth, credible conversations and feelings.
Jo is a very likeable character. It's not been easy being widowed from a cheating idiot and then having to raise all alone the two sons she had with him. Oh, and then there is Pearl, her "oops" toddler she had as a result of a fling. The father, Daniel, is still in the picture but solely as a friend. He's a flit-all-over the-globe-not-settling-down type of guy but he does want to be in Pearl's life. I liked his involvement with Jo, her boys and Pearl. Jo was very practical and knew what Daniel was really like so there's no recriminations and no regrets.
Jo's life is not all child rearing and nose to the grindstone boredom as her friend Ellen has her own TV talk show and her friend Grace is an international film star who involve Jo and her knitting shop in their lives. There's her relationship with Martin, a somewhat boring but reliable kind of guy who doesn't really light Jo's fire but he is dependable, and her quasi-relationship with Daniel, Pearl's father, who thinks he might want more. Well, just to see how it goes, anyway. For awhile at least.
"Yes, although, I'm still not sure what he's asking, and neither is he. But nice, whatever it is."
"Actually, it's not that nice; it's unsettling and complicated, and there's a tiny part of me that is half hoping it might be true, and we can all sail off into the sunset and play happy families while he flies round the world earning a fortune taking pictures before racing back home to us. But the trouble with being older and wiser: you know what makes you happy and what makes your children happy."
"It's a total bugger."
McNeil's humorous, occasional laugh out loud and witty writing helps her characters cope with everyday life in a realistic and relatable way. I loved their run-in with the snooty PTA president.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and would like to read the first two in the series. The British seaside location of the knitting shop just added a little more ambiance to the book. 3.5***
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by LT in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Little, Brown
(first published April 23rd 2002)
From the publisher:
Sharla Cody is only five, but has already lived a troubled life -- only to find herself dumped on an elderly neighbor's doorstep when her mother takes off for the summer. Although Sharla is not the angelic child Addy Shadd had pictured when she agreed to look after her, the two soon forge a deep bond. To Addy's surprise, Sharla's presence brings back memories of her own childhood in Rusholme, a town settled by fugitive slaves in the mid-1800s. She reminisces about her family, her first love, and the painful experience that drove her away from home. Brilliantly structured -- and achingly lyrical, this is a story about the redeeming power of love and memory, and about two unlikely people who transform each other's lives forever.
My thoughts: Loved it!!! These characters felt so real to me, I just wanted to rush to Canada to hug and comfort Addy. Lansens did an amazing job with her main character, Addy Shadd, a 70 something black woman whose life held more than it's share of heartbreak. When her neighbor Collette, a slutty-should-never-have-been-a-mother woman , asks her to take her 5 year old daughter, Shayla, in for the summer, Addy agrees. Even after it's clear Collette will not be returning, Addy whose heart has a huge capacity for love, does everything she can to teach Shayla what is important in life and how to behave.
The story that follows is told from Addy's perspective as she looks back over her life while raising Shayla. The past and the present meld seamlessly and the pages just kept turning. I could not put this one down. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful story that just about ripped my heart out. First 5 * book of the year.
Disclosure: The book is from my own shelves.