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Friday, August 28, 2009

Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love...Review

About the book:
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, Tennesee, 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.

Picking up where the first novel left off, we again meet The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society: a group of women get together once a month to talk about the latest book they've read for the book club and show off the latest knitting project. It sounds so good and, relatively speaking, it is. Prickly librarian Eugenie has married her youthful sweetheart, now a widowed pastor and finds herself trying to find her place in his life and church. Esther is newly widowed with a potential younger suitor. Hannah finds first love and heartbreak in high school. Merry struggles with returning to work and Camille tries to find her place in the world. Newest addition, Maria, tries to find a new life and home for her family.

I'm not sure what it is about this series that doesn't quite do it for me. The premise sounds so promising, but like the first one, it sort of falls flat. The women here are more likeable, even the prickly Eugenie and Esther. But, it's completely predictable. Eugenie chooses "Great Love Stories in Literature" for the groups reading list and as the chapters unfold, we find the inevitable comparisons: Maria and James are Elizabeth and Darcy; Hannah can relate to Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet; Camille can sympathize with Scarlett O'Hara and her desire to put her own needs before everyone else's...

There was a bit more depth to it and the characters seemed to interact more than in the first one. Here, they actually seemed more like friends. Two missing parts stand out to me: we never really do find out why Camille always turned down Dante in high school, even though she liked him and the bit about Esther's first child was just tossed in without any subsequent explanation, even though it seemed significant to her.

It's very light Christian and the faith of these women isn't in the forefront of their lives, it's more of an afterthought.

Still, it's a light, entertaining read and I did enjoy it more than the first one. While reading the first book adds a bit of history, each stands alone well.

Thanks for First Wildcard and Staci Carmichael at Random House for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Beth Patillo here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/09

* *
2/5 Stars

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