Book Review: “The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society” by Beth Pattillo

I’ve maligned Beth Pattillo’s authorly name often enough (see here and here) that you probably think I’ve got a personal vendetta against her.

True, I wrote a much-better-but-still-lukewarmish-mini-review of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart–but you’d still get the overall impression that I’m not a Pattillo fan.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society might have forced me to revise my opinion. I might just have to say that Pattillo is a good author so long as she gives Christianity a wide berth.

Knit Lit tells the story of a unique book club in small town Tennessee–a book club that knits a project for every book they read.

The group couldn’t be more diverse: a spinster librarian, an upper middle class housewife, a fashion forward young thing stuck in a small town dressmaker’s shop while caring for her dying mother, a not-exactly-hip-but-eco-friendly church secretary, and the ridiculously rich queen bee of the town. Nevertheless, they manage to maintain a relatively peaceful co-existence until the librarian finds a teenage girl defacing a library book and decides to make her “punishment” include attending the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society.

The introduction of Hannah, the deliquent-wannabe daughter of the last-generation’s white-trash sleep-around, to the society causes the other womens’ well-established facades to come crashing down.

Merry, the middle-upper-class housewife, learns that all is not perfect in her little suburban paradise when taking Hannah under her wing sparks conflict with her own daughter–and when her husband starts with withdraw more and more from family relationships.

Camille, the fashion forward young thing stuck in a small town dressmaker’s shop while caring for her dying mother, ends up employing the young Hannah–and when Hannah learns about the affair she’s having with a married man, Camille has to come to grips with the reality of what she’s doing.

Ruthie (the not-exactly-hip-but-eco-friendly church secretary) and Esther (the ridiculously rich queen bee of the town) have to somehow make peace from their decades-long sibling rivalry complicated by the fact that they both love (or perhaps just want) the same man.

And Eugenie (the spinster librarian) suddenly comes face to face with the future she ran from so long ago in her past–the future embodied in the no-longer-young, now-widowed pastor she refused years ago.

All in all, The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is a wonderful story and a great piece of women’s interest fiction. The only downside was knowing that Pattillo is a pastor and still seems to have no grasp on how relationship with Christ actually impacts life. You won’t find grand themes of reconciliation, redemption, or righteousness in this book. This is a novel of the world, describing it well, but offering it no lasting hope.

Rating: 4 stars
Category:Women’s fiction
Synopsis:A women’s book club finds themselves in sudden tailspin with the introduction of a young wanna-be delinquent into their midst.
Recommendation: This was a good book in the genre of women’s fiction (that is, the book club/sewing circle/knitting club/country club sorta fiction for women). If you enjoy the genre, you’ll enjoy this book.

1 thought on “Book Review: “The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society” by Beth Pattillo”

  1. I didn’t even know that she had written other books until you mentioned it and just assumed they were all to be avoided based on what you said. And I didn’t know that Pattillo was a pastor. (I haven’t looked up anything about her at all.)


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