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

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  3,694 ratings  ·  689 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 Two by Kate Jacobs
Good Yarns: Knitting Fiction
7th out of 114 books — 194 voters
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate JacobsThe Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeilHooked on Murder by Betty HechtmanKnit One, Kill Two by Maggie SeftonCasting Off by Nicole R. Dickson
Fiction for the Fiber Artist
2nd out of 44 books — 28 voters


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Community Reviews

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Elizabeth
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.
Esther
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
Bonny
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
Shelli
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...more
bookczuk
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
BooksnWool
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
Ellen
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...more
Brandie
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
Jillymom
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.
Jane
Predictable, light, fun and frothy. Made me want to start knitting again but spoiled by far too much swearing.
Jennifer Defoy
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...more
Laura
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...more
Min
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...more
L.
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
Layla
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...more
Shellys♥ Journal
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...more
Diane
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
Lara
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...more
Kara
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.
Rose
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.
Laura
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...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
This is a feel good book. It is not a book that will change your life or help solve problems like world peace and climate change. I would, however, like to say that this somewhat light read is worth the time it takes to read it. There are no murders, espionage, or white knuckle plot twists. But it's not filled with silly trips to the spa, or shopping trips to buy eight pairs of shoes, either.

It is the story of a single Mom who is intelligent and funny and far-from-perfect. But she has a good he...more
Anita
Loved the way McNeil wrote this book. Adding those remarks we have in our heads sometimes, made me chuckle, and yes sometimes you want to say them out loud!! I enjoyed the way she would do up the knitting shop window & changed the name to McKnits. Oh! the eclectic members of the township are adorable every town has them and she weaved them in & out of the storyline. Everyone needs a friend like Ellen who allows you to be yourself & let off steam every now & then. Stops things fro...more
M_spacegrrl
Nice.
Nothing more and nothing less but nice.
After reading lots of sciency stuff and political-related blogs and websites, it was kind of a challenge to read a "simple" book just for fun.
But the writing is light-hearted in a positive way, and really funny! I have to confess that I really had to laugh out loud several times in the book!
I had NO problem with all the swearing, in fact, I learned a lot of swear-words (who knows, they might be useful one day...) and I never felt offended by anything.
I...more
Shelley Giusti
Jun 07, 2009 Shelley Giusti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes knitting
Recommended to Shelley by: barnes and noble bookstore
I dont remember the date that I started this book but I finished today among others I am reading and it was good. Some of the language threw me off as she is a writer from London and their words arent always the same. But it was good, very heartfelt and touching.
Callie
Wonderful story about life, loss and moving on. I wished the book could have kept on going. Can't wait to read the sequel!
Diane
Oct 14, 2012 Diane added it
LOVED this book! It is so funny I actually laughed out loud countless times! Highly recommend it!
Knitme23
Yay! I was looking for a fun, well-written, funny series that might fill the space left by Raefella Barker's Summertime and Hens Dancing, and here is it! I got all three at our neighbor's yard sale (seventy-five cents, baby!), and they are a huge pleasure. Fluffy, but tightly written with likable characters and great dialogue, the first one kept me reading when I should've been asleep, and then I bolted the second one down in about two days. One more to go--but I'll be looking for more Gil McNei...more
Rachel Lein
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
Olivemylove
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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...
Needles and Pearls (Jo Mackenzie, #2) Knit One Pearl One (Jo Mackenzie, #3) The Only Boy for Me Stand by Your Man A Good Year for the Roses: A Novel

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“It's much easier than I thought it would be."
Most things in knitting are, really.”
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“I hate Earl Grey with a passion. It's like drinking stale perfume...” 8 likes
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