Review: The Great Christmas Knit Off; Alexandra Brown

A sugary sweet, festive, romantic read (3 stars)

Source- review copy

Published by Harper Collins, November 2014.

I read the kindle edition. The paperback is 400 pages.

I so wanted to love this book and I feel a bit bad that I didn’t, but you can’t please everybody, right? I actually finished this book prior to the Christmas season even beginning but must confess that I was in no massive rush to sit down and review it- hence my rather belated post into the new year. Oops. Sorry Netgalley.

The reason I requested this book for review was that I remember so many happy times knitting with my own Nanna when I was a little girl (or at least, she would knit and I would fumble clumsily with the needles, struggling to even cast-on) and I hoped that this novel would bring some of that nostalgic childhood magic back to me.  Plus, I was in a festive, introspective, romantic kind of reading mood  with Christmas approaching and this seemed to tick quite a few boxes in that respect.

Upon starting it, the sentimental, sugary tone seemed somewhat familiar and I was a bit disheartened to then realise that this was written by the same author who wrote ‘Christmas at Carringtons’ which is a novel that I unfortunately had to give up on when I attempted it late last year. I just couldn’t get into that one at all as it seemed so full of over-exaggerated drama and cringe-worthy, contrived moments.  Needless to say, I persevered with The Great Christmas Knit Off as it was a review copy and whilst I’m glad I read it and managed to finish it, I doubt I would read more from this author in future.  This novel is the first in a new series but I don’t think I will be reading the rest.

(It’s worth noting that I do seem to be in the majority in my ‘meh’ attitude towards this story however, so for some more slightly non-apathetic reviews, do make sure to check out Goodreads and Amazon!)

Sybil is going through the worst time of her whole life. Not only has she potentially massively cocked-up at work, but her fiancé has left her and for her very own twin sister nonetheless. As Christmas approaches she heads to the small village of Tindledale to stay with friends.  Whilst there, she may possibly get over her broken heart and find new love as well as saving Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, the local knitting store from going bust…

The summary says it all, basically. This was an easy, albeit not particularly memorable romantic read. There were some aspects to this story that I really enjoyed however that kept me reading; I liked some (if not all) of the characters and I thought the scene-setting was just truly lovely. Tindledale sounds like the sort of small, cosy village where everyone knows everyone else’s business and looks out for one another- the  perfect sort of place to retreat to for a break.  In a small town not too far from me is a knitting shop that looks completely ramshackle from the outside and that is rather how I pictured Hettie’s House of Haberdashery in this book to be as well- it was so vividly described with its hodge-podge of wool and needles and tons of ancient knitting patterns. I love wool shops (I’m a bit weird like that) and would love a good old nosy around Hettie’s store.

It also goes without saying that I adored Sybil’s little dog, Basil. For me, Basil just made this book. Unfortunately however, a cute dog just wasn’t enough for me to bump this read up more than three stars.

I didn’t particularly connect with Sybil which I think was the main factor here. I found her somewhat irritating as a matter of fact.  There was also so much ‘filler’ within this storyline that I grew bored at times and wished I could skip over pages. Some aspects felt quite contrived and predictable too.  Everything within the storyline just seemed so ‘perfect’ and twee and the slightly more dramatic aspects of the storyline became glossed over- even the conclusion regarding Sybil’s job was sort of brushed under the carpet at the very end of the book.  I also didn’t find it especially realistic that Sybil had been in the village for about five minutes and everyone was falling all over themselves to help her out. I get that this story is all about happy endings, I just wanted to read more about the journey in getting there is all.

If you are looking for a festive, cosy, romantic read then this book offers the ideal seasonal escape. It’s a non-too-taxing story which is sure to appeal to regular fans of chick-lit. Regrettably for me, it was just somewhat too saccharinely sweet and predictable for my personal tastes.

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