Friday, March 06, 2009

Giving Knitting Fiction Another Chance

As someone who has worked in the publishing field for more than two decades, I must make what might be an astonishing admission: I don't read for fun very often. And when I do, it's usually nonfiction, historical books.

Until lately. Until I bought my Kindle. I'm reading for fun again, and I've expanded my reading selection to include fiction. It seemed logical to go in search of novels that included knitting. There seemed to be plenty, including books by Debbie Macomber, Kate Jacobs, and Maggie Sefton. Many of my knitting buds swore by those others. Sadly, I found most knitting fiction disappointing.

Perhaps it's because I don't read romances (except for the occasional Southern chick-lit offering). Most of the knitting fiction I read seemed to concentrate on romance and subjects that would make a good (or not) chick flick, and I don't mean that in a pejorative way. Light reading is wonderful, and these books fulfilled that type of reading.

The only author whose works I consistently enjoyed was Maggie Sefton. Yes, there was an element of romance, but there was also more: mystery. OK, I generally had the who did what to whom figured out very early in the story, but I'm good that way. Still, there was enough of a storyline that kept me hooked until the book's end. And more important--to a publisher and bookseller--made me check to see when her next book was coming out.

Of course, Maggie's books also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite television shows: Murder She Wrote. I often wondered why Jessica Fletcher wasn't a suspect more often. After all, murders seemed to follow her around. And Cabot Cove, Maine? That little town must have had a murder rate, percentage wise at least, that rivaled the most crime-ridden cities in the world. Still, I loved that show.

So what does that have to do with the Maggie Sefton series? Well, it seems as though the murder rate has soared since Kelly Flynn moved to town. Still, she's managed to escape being considered a suspect, for the most part.

Last night I finished Barbara Bretton's Casting Spells. It was an OK read, but I can't say that I give it rave reviews. Personally, I found it derivative. In short, the action takes place in a small town that was built to model Salem, Massachusetts. It's a place where vampires, shapeshifters, and other such souls can live and not be harassed by humans. The main character is half human and half not. That premise has a lot of possibilities. But, as I said, I found myself thinking about other books and films that did things better. For example, portions of the book reminded me of Practical Magic and even Bewitched. And, since this style seemed so different from her other books (at least from my research; this is the first of her books that I've read), I couldn't help but wonder if she had written it as a way to jump on the bandwagon of other stories about creatures such as vampires.

Despite my lingering doubts, it was an entertaining, mindless read. And sometimes, that's what you need. Personally, I feel there are much better ones out there, but this book isn't awful. And if you're a Barbara Bretton fan, I suspect you'll like it, though it is different from her other work.

As one might expect, the ending left open the probability of a sequel. Will I read it? Probably. But not unless it's available on Kindle. I wouldn't pay $20+ to do so.


Nan said...

Sadly, I have also found that a lot of knitting fiction is a bit unsatisfying. Some is good for brain candy but much of it seems contrived, rather than just integrating the knitting part into the greater story. I'll check out the book you mentioned, however, because knitting and vampires just has to be a good, light romp and I can always use one of those!

perpstu said...

I will definitely pick this book up. You are right, most knitting fiction doesn't center around knitting. I like Debbie Macomber and Kate Jacobs books, but not because they are about knitting. I think they are stories about friendship and knitting just happens to be in there.

I look forward to reading a book that is really about knitting!