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Friday Night Knitting Club (Jacobs)

The Friday Night Knitting Club
Kate Jacobs, 2007 
Penguin Group USA
384 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780425219096


Summary
Juggling the demands of her yarn shop and single-handedly raising a teenage daughter has made Georgia Walker grateful for her Friday Night Knitting Club. Her friends are happy to escape their lives too, even for just a few hours. But when Georgia's ex suddenly reappears, demanding a role in their daughter's life, her whole world is shattered.

Luckily, Georgia's friends are there, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they've created isn't just a knitting club: it's a sisterhood. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Born—N/A
Raised—near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Education—B.A., Carleton University (Ottowa); M.A., New
  York University
Currently—lives near Los Angeles, California, USA


Kate Jacobs is the New York Times bestselling author of Comfort Food, Knit Two, and The Friday Night Knitting Club, which has over 1 million copies in print.

Kate grew up near Vancouver, British Columbia, in the scenic and delightfully named town of Hope (pop. 6,184). It’s an area filled with friends and family and Kate loves to visit. Back then, of course, it was tremendously boring, as only home can be to a teenager. As a result, Kate begged her parents to send her to boarding school in Victoria, BC. From there she traded in her navy blazer to earn a Bachelor’s degree in journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa. Next, in a fit of optimism/ courage /naivete—take your pick—she followed it up with a move to bustling New York City (pop. 8,143,197).

The plan? Breaking into magazine publishing. First she received a Master’s degree at NYU and worked at a handful of unpaid internships, then got a spot as an assistant to the Books & Fiction Editor at Redbook magazine. It was here that Kate answered multiple phones, read a ton of slush (getting to know some wonderful writers- to-be), and began to experience the impact of sharing women’s stories. Around this time, Kate settled into an apartment complex that housed about as many people as her entire hometown in Canada: It seemed that she wasn’t just a small-town girl anymore.

Professionally, Kate made it a priority to explore content that resonated with women: She was an editor at Working Woman and Family Life and was later a freelance writer and editor at the website for Lifetime Television. Personally, as a newcomer to New York, she learned the power of building a surrogate family and stitching together friendship connections that will endure. Exploring the richness of women’s relationships is a key focus of her novels.

After a decade of Manhattan living, Kate moved to sunny Southern California with her husband. (And discovered that she likes suburban living just fine, thank you very much.)

She relished the idea of her very own home office but found herself setting up the laptop on the dining table, just as she’d done in New York, and writing late at night in her pajamas.

A firm believer in the creative power of free time, Kate loves to recharge by tackling knitting projects that she can finish quickly (all the better to feel that sense of accomplishment). She’s also a fan of taking naps, especially when she’s on deadline, snuggling under a favorite green-and-yellow afghan knitted by her grandmother decades ago. Her beloved liver-and-white English Springer Spaniel, Baxter, often snoozes alongside. (From the author's website.)



Book Reviews
Knitters will enjoy seeing the healing power of stitching put into words. Its simplicity and soothing repetition leave room for conversation, laughter, revelations and friendship-just like the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias.
Detroit Free-Press


Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs's debut novel. But when Dakota's father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia's orderly existence begins to unravel. Her support system is her staff and the knitting club that meets at her store every Friday night, though each person has dramas of her own brewing. Jacobs surveys the knitters' histories, and the novel's pace crawls as the novel lurches between past and present, the latter largely occupied by munching on baked goods, sipping coffee and watching the knitters size each other up. Club members' troubles don't intersect so much as build on common themes of domestic woes and betrayal. It takes a while, but when Jacobs, who worked at Redbook and Working Woman, hits her storytelling stride, poignant twists propel the plot and help the pacing find a pleasant rhythm.
Publishers Weekly


Georgia Walker's entire life is wrapped up in running her knitting store, Walker and Daughter, and caring for her 12-year-old daughter, Dakota. With the help of Anita, a lively widow in her seventies, Georgia starts the Friday Night Knitting Club, which draws loyal customers and a few oddballs.... Jacobs' winning first novel is bound to have appeal among book clubs. — Kristine Huntley
Booklist


A Steel Magnolias for the 21st-century set in a New York City knitting shop. Debut novelist Jacobs capitalizes on last year's hot knitting trend with this laughs-and-tears women's novel. Georgia Walker, a single mother in her gorgeous late 30s, runs a specialty knitting shop in midtown Manhattan. Every Friday, a quirky group of women gathers at the shop for food, gossip and tips. The novel follows the threads of their criss-crossing lives-more or less. Its true focus is Georgia's romance, past and possibly present, with Dakota's father James, a handsome, charming, successful black architect who has reappeared on the scene after a 12-year absence. (Jacobs touches on race-Georgia is white-but it serves as little more than an exotic grace note in an otherwise standard romance plot.) The novel's most successful stretch takes place in Scotland, far away from the knitting shop and the club, when Georgia visits her wisdom-dispensing grandmother with her 12-year-old daughter Dakota and her spoiled, ex-socialite best friend in tow. Jacobs seems all too aware of her book's niche market potential. Readers are encouraged to visit a website devoted to the book for knitting tips and patterns. The female cast is likeable, but Jacobs pushes hard the idea of knitting as a metaphor for life, which thickens the novel's syrupy Lifetime Channel melodrama until it congeals into a bizarre ending.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions 
1. Why does Georgia reject her parents’ offer to house her and Dakota?

2. The role of friendships among women is a central theme of The Friday Night Knitting Club. Some friendships develop easily, like K.C. and Georgia’s, while others begin on unsure footing, like Darwin and Lucie’s. Cat’s insecurities create conflicted feelings about drawing Georgia closer. Discuss the emotional baggage and issues of class that challenge trust between various women in the knitting club.

3. Georgia has a history of being burned by the people closest to her. Cat’s decision to attend Dartmouth meant breaking a pact of friendship, and James abandoned her for another woman. Leading up to forgiveness, do you think there are moments when her defenses against intimacy and protectiveness of Dakota are excessive?

4. What does Anita see in Georgia that gives her the confidence to invest? Why does Georgia trust Anita, given her past relationships that went awry?

5. Lucie’s decision to become pregnant without telling the man she conceives with is a choice that flies in the face of social convention and her mother’s expectations, to say nothing of her Catholic upbringing. What factors led to her choice? How does the whole of Georgia’s experience as a single mother support or undermine her decision?

6. Entrepreneurs, single moms, and a seventy-something undergoing a sexual reawakening—the women of the knitting club are hardly traditional, although a highly traditional woman’s craft is what brings them together each Friday. Eventually Darwin decides to write her thesis about the positive impact of knitting in the lives of modern women rather than criticizing it as a “throwback” that prevents women from focusing their energy on professional success. In your opinion, which is the more feminist interpretation?

7. Georgia gets defensive when James asserts that he has things to teach Dakota about race that Georgia could never teach her. Is her indignation totally justified in light of James’s delinquency as a father, or is there some truth to his claim?

8. How does Dakota’s major act of rebellion (her attempt to go to Baltimore) alter Georgia and James’s playing field? Do you agree with Georgia’s decision on an initial trip to Scotland over a trip to Baltimore?

9. Before Georgia gives James a second chance, she claims to harbor “hatred lite” toward him, reasoning that she’d always heard the opposite of love is hate. When Cat’s lawyer informs her that Adam wants to settle and be done with her, she’s unexpectedly hurt because he’s letting her walk away without a fight. Given Cat’s reaction, how does indifference factor into the love/hate equation?

10. When Cat responds to Georgia’s sincere questions about her college experience at Dartmouth by saying, “It wasn’t like you think,” what does she mean?

11. Things get interesting in Scotland when Georgia’s Gran offers her loving but firm analysis of the women’s lives. She points out that Cat is capable of handling stress but hasn’t tried, and that Georgia’s spent too much time ruminating on the past. Her advice: mistakes are made; the important thing is to decide how to react to what people offer, because you can’t make them change. How do the women accept this advice in each of their lives?

12. If Georgia had opened the letters she received from James in a timely fashion, how might things have been different?

13. While James and Dakota are in Baltimore visiting his parents, Georgia decides to tell the club that she has cancer. Why does she share her news with the knitting club before she tells her immediate family?

14. When Georgia gets diagnosed, she worries that a show of weakness will be unacceptable to Dakota, James, and others who know and love her as a pillar of strength. How do her loved ones prove her wrong?

15. In your opinion what is the main lesson of The Friday Night Knitting Club?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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