Title: Needles and Pearls: A Novel
Author: Gil McNeil
Release Date: May 11, 2010
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Picking up right where The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club left off, Jo Mackenzie has managed to successfully modernize her grandmother’s yarn shop and is now running it. She still has unresolved issues with the death of her husband a year before, but she has managed to put aside most of her difficult feelings. She focuses on her two sons, expecting her life to calm down after the tumult she’s been though, but Jo doesn’t realize that the chaotic lifestyle isn’t quite done with her yet!
I enjoyed The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, so I was excited to learn that it had a sequel coming out. While the flood of knitting themed women’s fiction novels has become somewhat overwhelming as of late, I appreciated that McNeil did a great job making her books stand out. Specifically, the English countryside setting ensures an entirely different take on this type of novel.
I enjoyed revisiting with Jo in this book One of my main issues with Beach Street was that Jo seemed emotionally detached from the reader and the events in the book. That wasn’t a problem in Needles and Pearls. The reader is engaged and invested in Jo’s story; there is a real connection there, which is the driving force of the novel. Jo reacts with her same measured calm to most events in this book, but there is real emotion there behind her stoic facade.
I also can’t praise Jo’s sense of humor highly enough. McNeil did an amazing job making her funny and witty. Her inner monologue is simply hilarious. From her sons’ crazy demands to dealing with the town queen bee, Jo is strong, capable, and handles everything with a healthy dose of humor. A lot happens in this novel, and in the hands of a less talented writer, it might seem overdramatic. But Jo’s sense of humor ensures she just takes things as they come, one step at a time. It makes the novel a lot of fun to read.
I enjoyed Needles and Pearls and definitely hope that McNeil will continue this series. I’d love to read more about Jo and see where her life takes her. This is an enjoyable novel that any fan of women’s fiction would likely enjoy.