Thursday 16 July 2015

Reviewed: The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown.

The Great Christmas Knit Off was published by Harper on November 6, 2014.

Thanks to the publisher for approving me on Netgalley for a copy of this book.

The Great Christmas Knit Off is the first book by Alexandra Brown I have read. I know, I know, but we’ve all got to start somewhere, haven’t we? This was such a brilliant introduction to Alexandra’s writing that I’m refusing to let it be the last of her books I read and in fact, I already have the second book in the Tindledale series, The Great Village Show, ready and waiting on my Kindle. Now this book took me quite a bit longer to read than most other books do and I’m still not quite sure why but what I do know is that every time I picked it back up, it felt like such a comforting read and one that was just so effortlessly lovely. We meet Sybil just as she’s about to escape from her London life to Tindledale, at the invitation of her best friend Cher. Sybil has been embarrassingly jilted at the alter by her fiancĂ© Luke who had more than just an eye for her twin sister and though there are many jilted bride characters in books recently, my heart reached out for Sybil instantly. Once she gets to Tindledale, the story becomes sweet and funny and cosy and all those words you use to describe a book you just want to cuddle up with and read all over again.

Tindledale is a delightful little village with a warm and vibrant community. The characters residing in Tindledale are mostly welcoming and very down-to-earth people – the kind you could just settle right in with and feel at home. Of course, there are a couple of not-so-nice people which make the book feel more realistic but generally, we’re brought lots of laughter and the gossip that comes with living in such a close-knit community. Every detail brought this village to life and I fell in love with the location – my bags are already packed ready to move in. I loved how quirky it was and how, I guess, behind the times. Try and get a mobile signal and you’ll be waiting a long time. The idea of using a computer feels like such an alien, ridiculous concept. People have to, you know, actually talk to each other which is something that we’re becoming less and less used to so it was quite nice to see that take place in this book. Everybody knows everybody else’s business because they’ve actually spoke to someone about it and not just seen it on Facebook.

Getting to know the characters in this book felt like a real treat. I adored our main character Sybil from the start. She was the easiest of characters to like and knowing the crappy time she had had of late just made me want the best for her even more. The thing that I found really endearing about Sybil was how much she cared for other people. Her life wasn’t great but that didn’t stop her always thinking about someone else. Sybil quickly builds a lovely relationship with Hettie, the woman behind Hettie’s House of Haberdashery and I could see why because Hettie was another character who just made my heart melt. She has lived a very interesting life but right at this moment, she needs someone to be on her side and help pull things back together and so she strikes a nice bond with Sybil who is extremely considerate and willing to do whatever it takes to put a smile back on Hettie’s face.

There are many other characters in this book and some lovely friendships are formed. I don’t want to mention them all – there’s so much to enjoy by discovering them for yourself – but the cast of characters in this book was spot on. I will say I was a tiny bit disappointed to not see more of the dreamy doctor because he stole my heart quite quickly but I did love the moments we see him and the hint of sparks flying between him and Sybil. Swoon.

The Great Christmas Knit Off is, to me, incomparable to any other Christmas book. How many festive books do you read surrounding knitting? What I loved about this book was that even though the knitting part didn’t take over what was a wonderful story, it didn’t get pushed aside either. I’m sure a lot of readers wouldn’t have a clue where to start with knitting but it doesn’t make this book unreadable. The knitting aspect is integrated into this story so easily, so beautifully that it doesn’t overpower the characters’ stories yet I could not imagine this book without it. Knitting is the backbone for this really quite charming story. Knitting is how we get to see what a close, caring community Tindledale really is. There’s something quite invigorating about seeing a group of people working together to make everything better. When Hettie’s House of Haberdashery needed saving, everyone came together – even people who barely knew Hettie – to work for the cause and to get knitting to keep this community in one piece. And it wasn’t about knowing what to do, it was about choosing to do what was best for the people around you and isn’t that a nice feeling, knowing there are so many people just willing to try and make things happier for you? Alexandra has a really bubbly style of writing. Within just a few words, she managed to make me feel all happy and festive and the rest of the book was simply a joy to read.

A warm and inviting festive story with a village in Tindledale that you won't want to leave

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