Knitters often have conflicted feelings when it comes to the winter holidays. Sure, it’s fun to knit handmade gifts for family and friends, but it’s also all too easy to bite off more than you can chew, making up an overly ambitious gift list that results in a lot of late-night secretive knitting to get those items finished in time for gift giving. At times, Kate Jacobs’s third novel, KNIT THE SEASON, can feel a bit frantic, too, as she ambitiously tries to keep up with the dozen or so characters whose lives she chronicles. However, in the spirit of the holidays, readers will probably count themselves lucky to have a book that’s bursting at the seams with feel-good stories --- kind of like having a house full of holiday merrymakers.
KNIT THE SEASON starts about a year after the events of KNIT TWO, the sequel to THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB. At the center of the novel is Dakota Walker. Dakota’s mother, Georgia, was the heroine of Jacobs’s debut and the founding member of the knitting club in question. In many ways --- even though she died at the close of the first novel --- Georgia is still at the center of the club as its members and their friends and family recall Georgia’s influence in numerous vignettes scattered throughout the book. Dakota, who was a precocious preteen baker at the series’ open, is now an increasingly ambitious young woman.
Dakota’s dreams of becoming a professional pastry chef (and of renovating the Walker & Daughter knitting shop into a knitting café featuring her homemade goodies) are in sight thanks to her enrollment at culinary school and an upcoming internship in a hotel kitchen. She is also committed to working on the book of knitting patterns her mom left behind in the hopes of publishing it someday. But Dakota’s ambitions are complicated by business partner Peri’s decision to make a big career move of her own --- not to mention by her dad’s new romance and her own conflict between family devotion and career aspirations.
As Dakota finds her way, she is surrounded by women --- KC, Anita, Darwin, Lucie, Peri and Catherine --- who are unfailingly supportive but also deeply involved in their own lives’ journeys. It’s clear that Georgia’s spirit is what continues to keep these diverse women together (the touching vignettes about Georgia take up an increasingly large portion of the narrative), but they also have their own lives to lead, lives that were often sent in different directions thanks to Georgia’s influence.
It’s unclear at the end of the novel if Jacobs will continue to follow the wildly changing fortunes of the original Friday Night Knitting Club, but readers will certainly hope to check in on their lives from time to time, even though they may soon be spread across two continents and several time zones. No matter what, Jacobs’s fans will be sure to find time for KNIT THE SEASON this holiday season, regardless of how many gifts-in-waiting they have on their needles.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on November 2, 2010