Review: The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown (5/5)

Wednesday 3 December 2014
Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…

I have to admit that when I first read the title of Alexandra Brown's new book I did wonder just how much I would like it. Knitting is not something that interests me in the slightest, and the book reminded me of the one person I would love to recommend it to but can't (never getting that hour spent in Liberty's Haberdashery department back). I remember my Nan used to knit when I was younger but that's about it. That said though I think Alexandra is an author that could write about anything and I'd read it, and after finishing this I actually think it's impossible for her to write a bad book (no pressure for the next one).

Given how much I love the Carrington's series, as with any author writing something completely new, it's hard not to compare them whether that be with the storyline, characters, setting, whatever. I did try and put Carrington to one side though and focus solely on Knit Off. With the setting of Tindledale that was incredibly easy, I want to pack my bags right now and move to Tindledale it is just the most perfect setting for a book and with the map at the start and Alexandra's beautiful descriptions, I had a really vivid picture of it in my mind. Living in a city and barely knowing (or even liking) my neighbours, it's always fascinating to read about such close knit communities that pull together, know each other's business and live a life that us city people can't even comprehend - do places like this exist?!

Our main character Sybil arrives in Tindledale after being jilted at the altar. She arrives just weeks before Christmas, meeting Hettie who owns Hettie's House of Haberdashery, a business which is struggling and needs a miracle if it is to survive another Christmas. Sybil, a self-confessed knitting addict might just have the thing that Hettie needs to save the business. So, despite not having an interest in knitting the basis of the story is an interesting one and it wasn't long before I was hooked on this book. As always it's hard to discuss the plot too much, but there is of course a romantic storyline in the book, now for returning readers who fell in love with Mr Carrington himself, how does the love interest here fare? Well... You'll have to read it and find out!

What I love about Alexandra's books is the characters that she creates. Georgie from the Carrington's series has probably become one of my favourite Chick Lit characters ever, and here in Knit Off I really liked Sybil almost from the minute we met her. It's also her ability to make her stories unique and original. Over the past few years a lot of authors have written stories where the main character is left a shop/cafe/B&B and has to renovate it and make it a success (which they invariably do) and often some of them can feel quite samey, I felt that the character of Sybil along with the journey she went on throughout the book makes this book so much more enjoyable, and better than similar ones. You can tell when reading a book just how much love and care has been put into it, I got this feeling with the Carrington books but I felt it even more here.

Overall then this book comes highly recommended by me, whether you are familiar with the work of Alexandra Brown or are a completely new reader, pick up this book and fall in love with it like I did. And if you're a new reader, go and get the Carrington series right after you finish this book, you honestly will not regret it. After a few disappointing festive reads (some I abandoned because they were 'normal' books marketed as Christmassy) this one came along at just the right time. Get the fire on (or run a hot bath), get a hot chocolate and settle in for the night because once you start reading this book you won't stop until the very end. As this is the start of a new series, the book ends leaving you wanting more, which is always an exciting (and annoying) thing, so roll on book two!

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. 

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