Friday, July 27, 2007

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    On a February morning, my store with all its warmth and color was a cozy place to be. The timer on the microwave went off; I removed the boiling water and poured it into my teapot after dropping in a couple of tea bags. The rain was falling from brooding, gray skies as it often does in winter. I decided it was time to start another knitting class.

    A project roundup is coming. Soon. But in the meantime, let's amuse ourselves with a book review I wrote and meant to publish when I was at the Jersey shore getting married oh-so-long ago. Because when there's no time to knit, there may still be time to read.

    Back on Blossom Street, by Debbie Macomber

    Mira, 2007

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy from the publisher.

    I was that kid who read Carl Sandburg's 7 volume biography of Abraham Lincoln the summer I turned 13. I double majored in history and classics in college. I've read most of the classics, a daily newspaper for more than a decade, and the back of every cereal box I've ever brought home from the store.

    But I'm at the beach. And beach reading (I learned after lugging around all 7 volumes of Honest Abe for a summer) should be several things:

    1. Lightweight. I'm convinced the trade-sized paperbacks were invented for this.
    2. Light. In content. If I can't laugh out loud at the beach, where can I?
    3. But not too light. In either sense - If it's too short, you have to carry more than one book. If it's too fluffy in content, it's boring.

    Back on Blossom Street (and The Shop on Blossom Street, earlier in the series) fits all of these criteria. It is a nice read, with a good mix of drama, friendship, romance, Seattle stories, and, of course, knitting. There are problems; they are overcome. There are characters; you'd enjoy knitting with them. The story is not boring, nor is it predictable. But the tone is such that you know it will all somehow work out just fine in the end. It does have the problem that many sequels have, where much of the first chapter catches you up on what you'd missed in the other books. Remember how every first chapter of The Babysitter's Club was the same?

    In fact, it reminds me much of the other books of Debbie Macomber's that I've read. And there are several. She has a whole series of "Navy Baby" books that kittigen kindly annotated for me to point out the most egregious bad Navy metaphors. And aside from the very-dated 80's styles (note to future authors: take care to never describe clothing in TOO much detail), they also fit the same "beach reading" criteria as above. But no one ever offered me a review copy to review on my blog.

    So, let's talk about this trend towards knitting-themed fiction, shall we? Alison at the Blue Blog wrote about some the other week, and she's not the only one to notice that publishers seem to be marketing fiction to knitters in ever-increasing numbers. On a basic level, this makes sense. The market for women's fiction and current knitters overlap considerably - how many of us are women between 18-65? There are books about chefs, and horse farmers, and even "Navy Baby," out there, so why not knitters?

    Prior to reading The Shop on Blossom Street last winter (hey - it's always beach weather in San Diego!), I questioned the concept that I would choose my fiction based on my craft. And I don't suspect that I'll be shifting genres anytime soon (mystery is not really my thing). But if Debbie Macomber can write a great beach novel, why shouldn't I read about characters who like what I like?



    Blogger Pam said...

    I found the Blossom Street books just a tad too light for my taste -- not bad, but not my first choice. I wouldn't mind that so much, except people who know I like to read and like to knit keep passing them on to me. Ah well.

    PBS's Mystery series is running a new set of Miss Marple's right now -- lots of knitting, though no talking about it. Also light, but fun!

    7/27/2007 5:37 PM  
    Blogger Jenn said...

    I finished that one last week (in the midst of rereading all of the HP books, I had to have some distraction! I was starting to dream about Ron and Harry!), and I liked it. I knew it would all end up good, but I find myself drawn a bit to her characters. I'm in the middle of The Knitting Circle, and while it seems that everyone has had something horrible happen to them, I'm still reading.

    7/27/2007 5:45 PM  
    Blogger Tracy Batchelder said...

    Sounds like a good book. Some people are bored by "light reads" just like they are bored by stockinette stitch. I happen to enjoy both.

    7/28/2007 6:01 AM  
    Blogger Kate Diamond said...

    Mwa ha ha. Do you remember the mock lit-criticism article Riley wrote for "Navy Baby?" He sent it from China. I think he used the word "dichotomy" about nine times.

    How goes life? I've been rendered inert by the slowly, yet inoxerable, turning of my calendar pages. Ugh. Why must my summer go by so quickly? And why haven't I accommplished anything that I meant to as of yet?

    7/29/2007 5:46 PM  
    Blogger JayJay said...

    Hmm, sounds like something light and flufffy to read when the mood strikes.

    7/30/2007 8:10 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I love books - all books! If it tells a good story, then I'll read it. I like this series - easy to read at the beach(like you said) or in my case (since there's not a lot of beaches) on the treadmill.

    7/30/2007 1:09 PM  

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