Summer has never struck me as a good time for knitting: all that wool around a sticky body in the heat and humidity doesn't sound comfortable. But I have no trouble reading about knitting in any weather, which means Beth Pattillo's The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is perfect summer reading material. Here, Pattillo cleverly marries two subgenres of women's fiction - the book club novel and the knitting novel - and does it very well.
Pattillo introduces appealing, small-town characters: the librarian Eugenie, a woman with a secret, whose reign over her library may be about to end; sisters Esther and Ruthie, who are involved in an unusual love triangle; Merry, a harried wife and mother harboring her own secret; and Camille, who's given up her chance at college and an independent life to take care of her dying mother. Their monthly Knit Lit Society meetings, held in the Sweetgum Christian Church, offer each a respite from their lives. Between meetings, everyone reads the same book while working on a knitting project inspired by that book. (A pattern for one such project is included at the end of the novel.) Their carefully structured group is thrown into some chaos by the arrival of prickly teenager Hannah, who desperately doesn't want to admit that she desperately needs help. The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society cries for a sequel - readers will long to know what will happen next for these people, all of whom have experienced serious changes by book's end.