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Casting Off Paperback – July 28, 2009

70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Plenty of novels in which knitting plays a starring role would make great chick flicks. Casting Off would make a great movie. Consider the elements: Exotic location. Feisty heroine with a past. Equally feisty kid. Hunky male lead... A crusty old man of the sea. A riveting climax. Awe-inspiring sweaters. While Dickson at times steers close to sentimental shoals, she tells a ripping good yarn, bringing to vivid life the people, seascape, and sounds of Ireland's western islands. The only thing missing: patterns for the...sweaters she so beautifully describes." - Vogue Knitting Spring Summer 2010

About the Author

Nicole Dickson lives in North Carolina with her daughter. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Original edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451226992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451226990
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicole R. Dickson currently resides in North Carolina with her daughter, two dogs, and an unforgiving yard of acorns. When not attending to her other responsibilities, she can be found in some far corner of the library buried in history, racing the ghosts in her local Revolutionary War battleground, or discussing the clutter of leaves with the lightening bugs in the forest of her backyard.

She is available to call into your book club. Please feel free to contact her at She'd love to hear from you!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Betty K VINE VOICE on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
There is much to like in this tender story of healing and redemption. Lovely moments with the heroine, Rebecca and her young daughter, Rowan. Mother and daughter have arrived on a small island on the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland. Rebecca is there to write her theses for a doctorate in ancient textiles but also as a refuge from memories of her dangerous, controlling boyfriend, Dennis. Dennis is the father of her child.

I loved this story when it was in the top 100 in the 2008 Amazon Novel Contest and I still enjoyed it very much. The only small criticism I have, is the number of characters that appear at the outset of the novel. It does get a little confusing until you get them all straight. But everything else is wonderful and I found it a most enjoyable read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on September 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for a great story, simply told, with characters you will love, read this book. If you are tired of disappointing novels that fail to keep your attention, books which promise much and deliver little, read this book. If you, like me, enjoy the discovery of a promising new author, read this book.

This is an engaging story of two damaged people who fight with demons from their past, trying to start a new life with room for love. Sean, wracked with guilt over the loss of his sons, has maintained a solitary, angry existence ever since. He finds a chance for redemption in his relationship with Rebecca's young daughter. But Rebecca has spent years keeping people away from herself and her daughter. As the story unfolds, they circle each other, needful but wary.

Ms. Dickson describes the life and character of the island, the way people live with each other on a tiny, storm swept pile of rocks, the way that the women weave history and personality into their sweaters, kindled within me a burning desire to see the islands myself.

As with most first novels, there are some problems: short choppy sentences, abrupt transitions, and repetitive descriptions that are sometimes annoying. Nevertheless, this was such a wonderful story that the minor defects are not significant.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Valentine on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There have been a lot of novels written lately with a knitting theme, testimony to the popularity of knitting in current society - a good thing in my opinion. The reviews on them have been mixed, some are good, others are basically little more than Harlequin-type romances with a few knitting scenes thrown in. I was a little skeptical about Nicole R. Dickson's Casting Off but it proved to be quite charming.

It is essentially a romance, too, and there are no surprises to be had but there are some very good characters, the setting on an island off the coast of Ireland is delightfully described, and the story at least involves some actual knitting (and spinning). To be honest the only character I had a hard time warming up to was Rebecca, the main character. Rebecca, a young single mother of a precocious six year old, is working on a PhD in archeology and comes to Ireland to study traditional "ganseys", Irish knit sweaters. She is haunted by a past relationship with the despicable Dennis, the father of her daughter Rowan. Once on the island she is overwhelmed by the friendliness of its citizens all of who know her well from the stories told by Sharon, a young woman from the village who was Rebecca's roommate in college. Thus begins her education of spinning, knitting, gansey lore and, of course, a predictable but still sweet romance with the entirely too perfect Fionn.

Each chapter begins with a description of a gansey pattern taken from a fictional book we later learn was written by Rebecca's daughter Rowan. As someone who has been knitting Aran and Guernsey patterns for over 40 years I never heard of some of them but I enjoyed the "alternate" descriptions immensely.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By avid reader on August 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a knitter, I was attracted by the story of an archaeologist specializing in textiles who travels to an island off the west coast of Ireland to study the elaborate sweaters made by the local women.

Unfortunately, the story is marred by poor writing and the book has a "romance" feel to it. The characters are always clutching their chests in psychic pain. They so often "widen" their eyes or "look with wide eyes" that it's almost funny. It's surprising that an editor did not take the book in hand.

It's a great story and I'd like to read another book by the author after she works more on developing her craft.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alerra on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
The plot in this book was nice. I really liked the romance between Rebecca and Fionn, and the transformation of Sean (the flashbacks were a nice touch). And I enjoyed how all the plotlines wove together in the end for a coherent story.

But the spinning and the knitting. Where do I begin? First off, the idea of different stitch patterns meaning something in a sweater is a nice concept, but there really is no evidence to suggest that (see Alice Starmore's *Aran Knitting* for more information on this). Secondly, those little definitions at the beginning of each chapter? They're a little too set-in-stone cutesy. Especially the one about casting on that implies there are only three different methods. Ummm, people have written BOOKS just on this technique alone. There are loads more than three methods. Thirdly, Rebecca is on this island for two months, and in those two months she goes from someone who knows nothing about spinning to someone who can spin up a bag of yarn for an entire sweater? Sean is able to spin and knit five different sweaters in the same time frame? I'm sorry, but that doesn't fly with me. I've span and knit a whole sweater before, and from start to finish it took me about two months. ONE sweater, and I'd been spinning for a while before I even tried. NO WAY could Rebecca have figured out how to spin two pounds of wool perfectly ON A DROP SPINDLE in two months. Not with everything else she was doing.

It's a lovely story, and I'll give it three stars for that. But the stuff about the spinning and knitting just set my teeth on edge.
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