June 14, 2010

The Beach Street Knitting Society Book Group Guide

For every woman who has ever dreamed of starting over, or being a better mother, or just knitting a really nice scarf . . .

Jo Mackenzie needs a fresh start. Newly widowed with two young sons and a perilous bank balance, she leaves the bustle of London to take over her beloved Gran’s wool shop in her sleepy seaside hometown. There, she finds unexpected comfort in a “Stitch and Bitch” knitting group that meets every week to trade gossip and, occasionally, a new stitch. When a new man enters Jo’s life, the knitting club has even more trouble confining the conversation to knit one, purl two. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club is an uplifting, winning tale about the healing power of friendship and new beginnings.

Discussion Questions

Attention: Some plot spoilers in this guide.

1. Discuss the different members of Jo’s knitting circle. Do you think each woman joined just for the knitting experience, or were they looking for some other kind of camaraderie or fulfillment? What do you think each woman got out of the group, particularly Jo?

2. Do you have a hobby or creative outlet, such as knitting? Why do you pursue it—to express yourself, to relive stress, or some other reason? If you were given the chance to make your hobby a full-time job, or otherwise make a living from it, would you?

3. Ellen Malone, Jo’s best friend, is a source of constant support and levity to Jo. Do you have an Ellen in your life? In what ways to you depend upon your closest friend, and does he/she depend upon you?

4. Talk about the range of emotions Jo experiences as she processes not only Nick’s death, but his revelation hours before the car crash that he was having an extramarital affair and wanted a divorce. How does she deal with these feelings? What would you have done in her position?

5. When Martin and Daniel were first introduced, what did you think of each man? Did you imagine that Jo would have feelings for either of them? And did you guess which one she’d eventually “fancy?”

6. One of the book’s subplots deals with international film star Grace Harrison, who purchases an estate in Broadgate Bay and befriends Jo. What did you think of Grace? What did her friendship mean to Jo? Did Grace help Jo?

7. At the novel’s end, the members of the knitting circle organize a “knit-in” to protest the closing of the village library. Besides being an act of social protest, what do you think the knit-in meant to its participants? Did it mark the end, or beginning, of something for Jo and the other women?

8. If Nick hadn’t died, how would the book have been different? What do you think would have happened to Jo? Do you think she would have left Nick and taken over her Gran’s shop?

9. What do you think is the overriding message of The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club? Did you learn anything having read it?

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