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The Knitting Circle: A Novel Paperback – January 17, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Norton Pbk. Ed edition (January 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330441
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While mourning the death of her daughter, Hood (An Ornithologist's Guide to Life) learned to knit. In her comeback novel, Mary Baxter, living in Hood's own Providence, R.I., loses her five-year-old daughter to meningitis. Mary and her husband, Dylan, struggle to preserve their marriage, but the memories are too painful, and the healing too difficult. Mary can't focus on her job as a writer for a local newspaper, and she bitterly resents her emotionally and geographically distant mother, who relocated to Mexico years earlier. Still, it's at her mother's urging that Mary joins a knitting circle and discovers that knitting soothes without distracting. The structure of the story quickly becomes obvious: each knitter has a tragedy that she'll reveal to Mary, and if there's pleasure to be had in reading a novel about grief, it's in guessing what each woman's misfortune is and in what order it will be exposed. The strength of the writing is in the painfully realistic portrayal of the stages of mourning, and though there's a lot of knitting, both actual and metaphorical, the terminology's simple enough for nonknitters to follow and doesn't distract from the quick pace of the narrative. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Ann Hood lost her own young daughter to a rare form of strep, and in this semiautobiographical novel, she reveals the searing pain, the upheaval, and the loss of self that accompany such a heartbreaking event. Critics applauded Hood's intense, unbearably sincere portrayal of grief. However, some felt that the cast of characters was so large and unwieldy that many were caricatures serving merely as vehicles for different steps in the healing process. Those who appreciate the comforting click of knitting needles will find kindred spirits in The Knitting Circle, but it's not necessary to know the difference between casting on and casting off to enjoy this poignant novel.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Important Information

Ingredients
Example Ingredients

Directions
Example Directions

More About the Author

Ann Hood is the author of the bestselling novels THE RED THREAD, THE KNITTING CIRCLE and SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE. Her memoir, COMFORT: A JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF, in which she shares her personal story of losing her 5 year old daughter Grace in 2002, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and named one of the top 10 non-fiction books of 2008. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Customer Reviews

There were too many characters and too much tragedy.
mrsschin
This group is not ordinary, for each member has a horrid story of pain, loss and suffering... but the truth is where they are now.
Stacy Koenig
Each character seems real nod pulls the reader in to her life story.
C. Amato

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By - Kasia S. VINE VOICE on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My first Ann Hood novel proved to be for the lovers of deeply moving and emotional reading material that grabs through the pages and squeezes the heart until tears come out. This semi autobiographical work, mirroring her personal loss and her way back into the world of living is a magnificent journey, best savored late at night with a hot cup of cocoa and a box of tissues nearby.

At first the book grabbed my attention because I love to knit, but when I read the dust jacket I knew this book could appeal to pretty much anyone who loves to read. The Knitting Circle followed the life of Mary Baxter, a Rhode Island resident who lived a pleasant life with her husband Dylan and five year old daughter Stella. She wrote reviews for the local alternative newspaper, following her own schedule, living to her own beat immersed in the world of books and restaurants, pink tutus and happy family days spend grilling outdoors and making fresh lemonade. Her life was so good she would often stop everything and cry from sheer joy until one day those tears turned dark and swallowed up her whole world, the day her beloved little girl died.

Unable to go on after her loss, Mary was urged by her mother to join a knitting circle in Providence. The idea seemed absurd to her since she didn't even know how to knit, but she decided to go, unsure of what to do next once she was there. Welcomed by Alice, Harriet, Scarlett, Lulu, Beth and Ellen, she quickly found a spot for herself trying to live her day one moment and one knot at a time. The therapeutic qualities of focusing on knitting those tiny little knots relived her mind and heard for her devastating loss. Instead of slowly losing herself in the inky depths of the black hole her heart felt she found purpose in knitting and talking to the women.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Haley Parnham on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
THE KNITTING CIRCLE gets my vote when it comes to reading a good book about people and their lives, the kind of book I most enjoy. Was this book perfect? Well, maybe not, but it the kind of book that kept me reading on into the night to find out what the next person's story was. I was somewhat reminded of HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT (Whitney Otto) in which a group of women also have individual stories to share with the young woman. But these stories were different from those and even though it was a bit sad, it was definitely well written, as are all of Ann Hood's books.

Mary has lost her five year old daughter and her attempts to get back into her routines of life are just not happening. Her mother encourages her to join a knitting circle and so she eventually does, meeting a group of women with stories of their own. One by one, you learn of the sadness and the success of the others in the group and watch as Mary grows stronger.

By the way I must admit, reading this made me want to go learn how to knit! :o)

I understand that author Ann Hood has actually lost her young daughter and that this book is a reflection of what she went through and has continued to experience since that event occured. I admire her more than I can ever say. I admire her courage in writing about her loss as well as writing about tragedies in the lives of others in this fictional setting.

I'm glad to see Ann Hood back again!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Koenig on May 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's been a tough one to walk away from. This book left me numb (extremely close to the feeling left after reading The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle).

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is a self written autobiographical novel about a young couple, more so the mother, coping with the loss of their only child, their daughter, after a quick battle with Meningitis.

This book was penned by Ann Hood after the loss of her own child after dealing with viral strep.

The story in The Knitting Circle is painful and yet full of slow healing. Mary, the mother spends her days in a complete fog, unable to grip the change that has come into her life so suddenly. Mary used to be a reviewer for books, restaurants and movies, but now spends her days in baggy overalls watching TV and crying or sleeping. Mary has a non-existent relationship with her mother; former alcoholic. But her mother, calls, persists and irritates Mary to the point that she finally shows up at a knitting studio an hour from her house.

Mary struggles to fit in with the circle, complaining about the littlest knitting task. She looks around the room to each Wednesday night slowly learning about the people in this group. This group is not ordinary, for each member has a horrid story of pain, loss and suffering... but the truth is where they are now. Because of Alice, the store owner.

Mary finally starts to open up to her grief, finds time to learn about each other with her mother and finds life again...

In my humble opinion, I know this book could be better based upon reading about the author. However, the basis behind this book.... the quality of writing through a desperate, heartfelt struggle is amazing. This book is such a lesson in learning just how to live and breath; one step at a time... (in the words of knitting... one stitch at a time...) So, based on all of the above, this book should be picked up and enjoyed in both tears and laughter!
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With a local Rhode Island women's knitting circle as her theme, storyteller Ann Hood weaves the chapters of her novel together with the authority of experience, proffering images of human loss in all its painful forms, the warp and weave of the finished piece as unique as the ladies who gather to mend their lives. At the heart of the tale is Mary, who has suddenly lost her beloved five-year-old daughter, Stella, to meningitis. Stunned, Mary is unable to resume a normal life, drifting daily farther away from her husband, Dylan, as each seeks to alleviate their separate pain. Never having enjoyed a close relationship with her mother, who now resides in Mexico, Mary only distantly registers the older woman's advice to learn how to knit. Finally, with no memory of making such a decision, Mary arrives at "Big Alice's Sit and Knit", where Alice, who is a tiny Englishwoman, welcomes her with a set of knitting needles and easy instructions. After two classes and a growing collection of scarves, the bereaved mother joins a Wednesday evening knitting circle at Alice's shop, surrounded by a diverse and enigmatic group of women.

As Mary slowly navigates the dark waters of her grief, she finds an island of safety with these strangers, each quietly working on a project. In time, each woman will contact Mary on a more personal level, sharing her own story, her own sorrow: Scarlet, a lovely redhead who owns a bakery discloses a secret past in which her negligence led to the death of a child; the edgy Lulu enjoys a happy marriage, ready to consider motherhood when she is attacked, her world irrevocably altered by random violence; Ellen's daughter is dying by degrees while awaiting a heart transplant; and Harriet copes as best she can with the loss of her son and daughter-in-law on 9/11.
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