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The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (Jo Mackenzie #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,831 Ratings  ·  836 Reviews
For every woman who has ever dreamed of starting over, or being a better mother, or just knitting a really nice scarf . . . When her husband dies in a car crash--not long after announcing he wants a divorce--Jo Mackenzie packs up her two rowdy boys and moves from London to a dilapidated villa in her seaside hometown. There, she takes over her beloved Gran's knitting shop-- ...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Hyperion (first published 2007)
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The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate JacobsThe Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie MacomberA Good Yarn by Debbie MacomberThe Knitting Circle by Ann HoodKnit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
Good Yarns: Knitting Fiction
7th out of 149 books — 231 voters
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate JacobsHooked on Murder by Betty HechtmanKnit One, Kill Two by Maggie SeftonThe Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeilCasting Off by Nicole R. Dickson
Fiction for the Fiber Artist
4th out of 50 books — 37 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 31, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
It was ok. Some of the reviews called it profound, but I wouldn't go that far. In spite of the subject matter I didn't find that it had much emotional depth... It was an easy read, which is what I was looking for. The brief jaunt to Venice at Christmastime renewed my desire/intention to visit Venice.
Dec 27, 2010 Esther rated it did not like it
I picked this book up from a stack of books at my mother-in-laws. I was interested because I hadn't read any books from the new, small genre of knitting club stories/books. My M-I-L hadn't read it yet and thus couldn't warn me that the book had a very slow moving plot that didn't really resolve any of the issues because the book is (heaven forbid) part of a series, was 3x's longer than it needed to be (it would of only been 2x's as long as needed if McNeil hadn't dropped the f-bomb among other c ...more
Nov 07, 2009 Bonny rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, knitting
I stumbled upon this book purely by accident, and was very pleasantly surprised. Much of the knitting fiction I've read has felt a bit forced, as if the authors were struggling to specifically write fiction about knitting. Gil McNeil manages to make knitting an integral and interesting part of Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. I can picture the lovely yarn colors & garments she describes. She manages to make the mess & emotions of everyday life funny and interesting, while por ...more
I usually don't like the kind of books where a group of women come together over some common interest (books, knitting, or something) and find strength and courage, becoming better people, etc, etc. I was really concerned that this would be one of those books, but it actually wasn't. There's a genre of literature, too, which has become kind of called "knitting fiction" where a women in her 30s-40's has a profound life-changing event, and as she begins to find her way, ends up in a knitting group ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Brandie rated it really liked it
once I opened the book, I couldn't put it down! Which means, I was up much too late last night reading LOL! The book is set in England - which I admit threw me off a few times because, well a few words are not known to me! But I quickly got over that - and even at one point told my kids I was quite knackered earlier today (that means tired!). Anyway, Jo MacKenzie is a stay-at-home mom of 2 boys (who quite wear her out which I completely understand) and married to a news reporter who is often awa ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Shelli rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-trivial
I would never recommend this book in a million years, but I loved it the way I sometimes love other things that are bad for me ... like fries and Costco muffins.

The plot is perfectly paced, and I love the main character. Jo is a decent mom who's trying her best and doing a pretty fine job of it all. She's forgiving and generous, and knows how to pick her battles. We'd be friends in real life.

This book made me all itchy to learn to knit. I taught a friend how to crochet and now she's WAY better a
This book was funny in that warm, defeated, revenge-of-the-doormat English way and I loved it. The main character would make a great pal. However I frequently wanted to kick her and tell her to stand up for herself: against the local snob (who CARES what a b**** like that thinks or wants), against her terribly-behaved children (tell them NO occasionally, before it's too late), against the memory of her worthless husband, and her incredibly self-centred family members. And she needs to tone down ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Ellen rated it did not like it
Shelves: chick-lit
I couldn't even finish this. The main character was constantly complaining (especially about her kids which I have a hard time with). At first I thought it was just situational but then it didn't get any better. I skipped to the end to see how things turned out but it felt like the end felt like it could have been any chapter in the middle.

The writing style bugged me too. First off, there was a lot of swearing. On top of that, she writes in long, run-on sentences. I found myself reading it fast
Nov 29, 2013 Jillymom rated it really liked it
Loved this! I read it third, although it is the first of three. Funny, warm, delightful. Single mom (there is a story there too) with two quirky boys. I love her developing friendships, over a wide spectrum. One thing that doesn't ring true is how she knits up shawls and baby blankets and tea cozies in the twinkling of an eye. And also, she is self-disparaging about her thighs etc but manages to end up shagging some pretty spiffy men. Sigh.
There’s a very set formula for Knitting Fiction, and this one doesn’t deviate from it much, at least in its premise. Take one woman in her 30s or 40s, add something tragic (e.g., deadly disease, widowhood, etc.), along with one wool shop full of delightful customers (excepting the sulking teenager) and presto! You’ve got a warm and cozy novel full of hugging and learning faster than you can turn a heel.

Where The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club does depart from the typical model is in
Oct 25, 2014 Arlene rated it it was ok
Any book that has knitting in the title, gains my attention. While I enjoyed this book, it was slow moving and it took me quite a while to finish it. I liked the premise of the book and the characters were entertaining but I cannot quite pin down why I stuck with this book to the end. I guess I just wanted to find out what happened to the McKnits, Jo and her boys and the various other characters who lived in this seaside town. Let me give you a warning...the ending is not what I expected. No pri ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Kara rated it liked it
While I had several laugh-out-loud moments while reading this novel, I doubt its story or characters will stick with me very long. It was fun to read and I wanted to know how it would end, but I wouldn't recommend it except as an airplane- or beach-read. Side note: the ease with which some of the knitters go from absolute beginner to sweater-ready struck me as optimistic, but maybe that's just a reflection on my own knitting practice.
Sep 04, 2015 loretta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a disappointment this book was. I wasn't looking for the next great literary novel, just an enjoyable read. This wasn't it. The premise was interesting and it started out ok but I soon realized it was disintegrating into chick lit. The main character, Jo, was left a single mother with two young children after her husband tells her he's leaving her for another woman then wraps his car around a tree and dies. She moves to a seaside town near her Gram and opens a knitting shop. What ruined thi ...more
Apr 13, 2012 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Predictable, light, fun and frothy. Made me want to start knitting again but spoiled by far too much swearing.
Mlle Alice, pouvez-vous nous raconter votre rencontre avec Les Tricoteuses du Bord de Mer?
"Toujours à la recherche du livre doudou par excellence, je suis tombée tout à fait par hasard sur celui-ci qui parle de tricot, de nouveau départ et de petite ville balnéaire anglaise."

Dites-nous en un peu plus sur son histoire...
"Jo McKenzie vient de perdre son mari. Ce que tout le monde ne sait pas, c'est qu'il la trompait depuis un an et venait de lui annoncer qu'il la quittait. Incapable de savoir si
Rachel Lein
Sep 08, 2014 Rachel Lein rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
I can't honestly say I would recommend this book to anyone. It seems to be another of quite the list of "chick lit" books aimed at the knitting resurgence that came about from around 2003 or so that seems to have tapered off again in more recent years. The way I see it, books like this were just trying to catch the eye of the knitting crowd (I am a knitter, so they did a good job in that sense, apparently, as I have tried 3 of these kinds of books already), but the trouble with these books is th ...more
Jennifer Defoy
Apr 19, 2012 Jennifer Defoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
I loved this book, and not just because I'm a knitter. Although that probably helped a little :-)

The knitting group that Jo starts meeting up with was awesome. I felt the camaraderie between the women, even though they were all so different. Much like the knitting group that I used to meet with every week. These women were there for each other no matter what, and were always willing to lend an ear and a hand. They added a bit of drama and quite a bit of comic relief to the story.

I also liked J
Sep 14, 2010 Min rated it liked it
This is the first book in McNeil's series, and I read it only because I stumbled upon the second book in the series (Needles and Pearls) in a bookstore last month.

At the beginning of the book, we find out the Jo and her two sons are moving. Why? Because she's suddenly become a widow and has decided to move to take over her grandmother's wool shop. How did she become a widow? Because the very night that her husband told her he had been cheating on her for a year, he drove off, crashed into a tree
Mar 04, 2013 L. rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
It was well-written enough but didn't seem to have a purpose. Jo is recovering from the death of her husband, who was about to leave her for another woman (why are they always French?), and is asked to run her grandmother's yarn shop in a small seaside town. Personally, this is my idea of nirvana- yarn shop, English seaside town, you actually know your neighbors, lots of tea. I didn't see the point of the plot. Everything seemed nonchalant. There wasn't even a confrontation with the French mistr ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Layla rated it liked it
A nice, easy read about a new widowed 30 something trying to cope with two school aged boys and a new business.

The novel has a definite sense of place and time which would be appealing to those familiar with the English seaside town. Anglophiles would probably enjoy it.

I did find two aspects of the books to be irritating.

First, the main character is always moaning about being chubby but every second page has her eating cakes, pastries, donuts or cookies and drinking vast amounts of tea. It is o
Shellys♥ Journal
Feb 06, 2010 Shellys♥ Journal rated it liked it
Shelves: year-2010
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, the setting (a small Scottish seaside town) and soaking in the British culture. While the characters progressed in their lives to some degrees, there were no overwhelming obstacles overcome, (in my opinion). It just seemed like a period of time cut out of someone's life.

One thing that did bother me was the amount of cursing in the dialog and in the thoughts of the main character. Perhaps another slice of British culture I am unfamiliar with. And may
Jun 13, 2015 Kerry rated it liked it
3.5 I really liked this, so much more than I was expecting to. Great vacation read!
May 17, 2014 Diane rated it liked it
After having plowed through two books I just didn't care for, I was glad to pick up what I initially thought of as a light and airy story at the beginning. I thought I was going to like this a bit more than I did. McNeil just missed the mark for me by constantly having Jo moaning about her children and other situations. It just seemed to go nowhere. I was always waiting for something great to occur-but it just didn't get there. The constant swearing was totally unnecessary to the plot-if there ...more
Apr 19, 2014 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I'm back on a knitting-in-fiction kick so I thought I'd re-read this book.

Jo McKenzie is a harried housewife living in London, who appears to have the dream life. But when her husband dies in a car accident on the night he's just informed her of his affair and desire for a divorce, the life Jo's known is ripped from her. So she packs up her two small boys and moves to a seaside village near her Gran.

I love the idea of starting over after a tragedy, and while there aren't any patterns included in
Katrina Roets
Aug 01, 2016 Katrina Roets rated it really liked it

If you know me, you know that I cannot resist piles of books looking for a new home. In this case, I picked up this gem of a book off of the library free shelf when we popped in to use one of their tables.

It's been a while since I've dived into the chick lit genre, but I rarely regret when I spoil myself with it. This was no different. I started reading this while away on my trip and I'm pretty sure that I finished it in nearly one sitting. I absolutely loved Jo and more than once I completely
May 13, 2009 Rose rated it really liked it
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars for this book. Maybe it needs 3.5 stars. It was funny and the characters were so likable, but it almost tried to do too much. This book could easily be a series though to go back and investigate the characters that felt a bit weak. The ending was right where I was expecting it to go, but again it didn't really feel like an ending - maybe a beginning to another book for this author.
Mar 23, 2016 Kaitlin rated it really liked it
This is another one of those books that I read when all I want to do is sink into someone else's daily life, which is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, I know that. But sometimes all I really want is to immerse myself in the atmosphere of a book and a person, and that's what The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club was.

Jo Mackenzie's husband dies in a car crash and leaves her in a sticky financial situation with two young boys, so she moves to the town that her grandmother lives in an
Jun 14, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club

by Gil McNeil

We meet Jo MacKenzie when she is moving out of her London home. Her life changed forever with the death of her husband. The only problem is, her life would have changed anyway, because he was leaving her for the woman he was having an affair with. He told her upon his return from a business trip, promptly left her and unfortunately died in a car accident on the way to meet his lover.

Jo can no longer afford to continue her life in London
Jun 17, 2016 Francesca rated it liked it
This book wasn't horrible, but I won't continue the series. Jo was an okay character and there were lots of interesting supporting characters, if the author decides to flesh them out a little. But what annoyed me consistently throughout this book was Jo's inability to discipline her children. Kids misbehaving? Give them a treat. Kid calls you a name? Pretend you don't hear it. Kids completely ignore your instructions? Take them to the beach. Kid leaves the shop after being expressly told not to ...more
Bookworm LLC
Jun 05, 2015 Bookworm LLC rated it really liked it
This is a great summer read. Set in England with all of its rain and fog. By the time I was finished I was saying things like "how lovely", "shall we have tea". The author has done a great job creating her characters and not making this novel only about knitting, which if you're not into knitting, is a good thing. I am into knitting so I liked that part of the book.
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Around the Year i...: Divas Don't Knit, by Gil McNeil 1 12 May 05, 2016 10:21AM  
  • The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (Sweetgum Knit #1)
  • Knitting
  • Knitting Under the Influence
  • How to Knit a Love Song (Cypress Hollow Yarn, #1)
  • Knit in Comfort
  • Casting Off
  • The Knitting Circle
  • While My Pretty One Knits (Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, #1)
  • (It's a Purl Thing) (Chicks with Sticks, #1)
  • Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again
  • Casting Spells (Sugar Maple, #1)
  • Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split
  • Spinning Forward
  • A Holiday Yarn (A Seaside Knitters Mystery #4)
  • Unravelled
  • Knit One, Kill Two (A Knitting Mystery, #1)
  • It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons
Gil McNeil is the author of the bestselling The Only Boy for Me, Stand By Your Man, In The Wee Small Hours and most recently Divas Don’t Knit. The Only Boy For Me has been made into a major ITV prime-time drama starring Helen Baxendale and was broadcast in 2007. Gil McNeil has edited five collections of stories with Sarah Brown, and is Director of the charity PiggyBankKids, which supports projects ...more
More about Gil McNeil...

Other Books in the Series

Jo Mackenzie (3 books)
  • Needles and Pearls (Jo Mackenzie, #2)
  • Knit One Pearl One (Jo Mackenzie, #3)

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“It's much easier than I thought it would be."
Most things in knitting are, really.”
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