Review: The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is a beautiful book about a painful subject. Mary Baxter and her husband, Dylan, are shell shocked after their only daughter, 5 year old Stella, dies suddenly and unexpectedly from bacterial meningitis.  In the months of grief that follow, Mary’s relationships are faltering; she stops going to work, struggles to communicate with her husband, can barely speak to her mother.  This is the story of how Mary learns to live again.

At the urging of her mother, Mary joins a knitting circle.  She finds knitting therapeutic and distracting, just what she needs.  She begins to learn more about the other people in the circle and all the reasons they are there, reasons that include suffering, tragedy, and loss. 

But I don’t want you to think this is a story to avoid because it’s too sad.  It IS sad, but it’s also inspiring, and shows the restorative power of friendship and reaching out to others.. how sharing our pain can lighten the load.  It is a heartfelt story of hope that I read in 2 sittings, stopping only to sleep and eat. 

Hood, who lost her own daughter to a virulent strain of strep (also at age 5), writes from heartbreaking personal experience.  The novel rings so true, and I ached for Mary (and also for Ms. Hood) as she went from the depths of her grief to the beginnings of healing. This book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

Visit Ann Hood’s website HERE


Sunday Salon

Ahhhhh it’s Sunday, and today in Southern California we are expecting record breaking high temperatures for the 2nd day in a row (93 degrees).  It feels like summer.  The kids are in their bathing suits and I’m trying to talk them into washing my car after breakfast.  Later they have a cosmic bowling party with their school, and after that I’m off to my book club meeting to discuss Eat, Pray, Love.  I’ll be leading the discussion tonight, and I know we’ve got people on both sides of the love/hate fence, so I’m a little anxious about it.  It’s funny.. I’ve done a couple blog posts about E,P,L but I have no desire to review it, I guess because I have such mixed emotions about it.  

Last night my neighbor Kierstin set up an outdoor movie theater in her backyard and invited us for a viewing of Star Wars with her kids.  My kids had never seen it so they were really excited.  My husband took them in their pjs, loaded down with chairs, popcorn, blankets, and drinks.  This gave me 2 solid hours by myself to read!! What a gift! (Thanks, Kierstin!)  Having just finished Loose Girl, I was between books, so I spent about half an hour paging through last month’s Oprah magazine, because I just had to know if “my medicine was making me fat” (it’s not-whew!) and what “Oprah’s New Passion” was (a new tv show-whoopee).  I used to subscribe to several mags, but found I wasn’t reading them anymore, so I let the subscriptions lapse.  I must have a lifetime subscription to “O” because it just keeps coming.  

Finally I hesitantly picked up a book I started a couple weeks ago, The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood.  I’d put it aside the first time because it made me cry really early on (page 19!)  It’s about how a woman manages her grief the year after her only daughter dies from meningitis at age 5.  I’d been thinking about the story ever since I put it down, and felt compelled to go back to it.  I’m really glad I did.  It’s not the kind of book that’s sappy and manipulative, trying to get the big emotional reaction.  It’s quiet and gentle and moving.  The mom is going through the motions, just existing, putting one foot in front of the other (barely).  Her mother encourages her to knit as a way to take her mind off her grief.  She meets some people through a knitting store who have their own troubles they are working through.  She joins a knitting circle and starts to care about these people.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it seems to be a tale of how friendship helps her get her life back after her devastating loss.  I flew through the first 100 pages last night and am looking forward to sitting down with this book again later today.

What are you reading this weekend?  Is it something you’d recommend to others? Please leave a note and let me know!