Faythe’s CBR-III Read #12: Knitting under the influence by Claire LaZebnik

I feel compelled to preface this review by saying that I don’t normally read books like this. Perhaps when I was in high school, yes, but not now. I could tell just by the cover (Yes, I judged a book by it’s cover, and I judged it HARD.) that it was going to be pure fluff, but when my boss handed this book to me and said that it sounded like a book I should read because I knit and drink (But not at the same time. Friends don’t let friends knit and drink!) I couldn’t say no. I even read it during my lunch hour so he could see that I was actually reading it and not just saying that I would. Anyway, because it’s summer and summer is supposed to be the season for frothy, mindless reading, I chose to also review it once I was done.

The plot of Knitting under the influence is basically about three girlfriends and their love lives who happen to also get together once a week to knit and gossip about boy problems and work problems–the usual girl talk. I can’t remember their names, but I do remember that one’s tall and beautiful and the odd sister out because she’s a triplet, but her other two sisters are identical (she’s fraternal and that’s why she looks different) and in show business. The second girl is a research scientist who used to be fat in high school but is now thin because she got tired of being known as the fat girl, dieted and exercised herself down to a culturally acceptable weight and now hardly eats anything at all, and the third works with autistic children and is a closet hottie (I rolled my eyes especially hard at the Halloween costume scene). Oh, and they’re also all in their late 20s, so naturally it means they’re beginning to think about marriage and kids.

The tall beautiful one almost gets married to a rich guy, but realizes at the last minute that he’s too boring. The research scientist was dating a good-looking dick, but dumped him and fell for her mousy, sweet lab partner, and the teacher tries her best not to be attracted to the father of one of the kids she works with because he’s the former high school jock (who’s still hot, of course) at her school that used to tease her younger autistic brother. Personally, I think that the author made one of the girls a special education therapist because it was a quick, easy way to gain the “Awww” factor for the narrative. Nothing endears people to a storyline faster than one that contains an adult bonding to an adorable special needs child! Except for me. I hate that shit!

Oh, and I should also say that the titles of the chapters were all named after knitting terms to be cutesy. The first chapter is “Casting On” (I see what you did there! A project begins with casting on, just like the story begins with the first chapter!) the next is “Ribbing”, etc. etc. Although I was curious as to why the final chapter was titled “Yarn Over” instead of “Binding Off”. All knitters know that a project (and hence the story) would end when you bind off, not when you do a yarn over. Or was that a ‘clever’ way of signaling that it wasn’t really the end of the story for these girls, that they have the rest of their lives ahead of them? I’d rather have their story end.

So. Moving on. I don’t think I have to tell you that everything works out for all three of the girls in the end, but I will anyway. Guess what? Everything works out for all three of the girls in the end! There was just enough ‘minor’ drama to keep the reader invested in the story and wondering what would happen next, but in the end of course, all the loose ends are tidied up, relationships are worked out, and everyone ends up happy and blissfully in love.

Also, after reading it, I turned it over and read one of the back review blurbs that said:

“Jane Austen invented ‘chick lit’ (if that term means witty novels that closely observe the details that matter to women), and this intelligent, hilarious book is peopled with wise yet flawed women who, like the best of Austen’s heroines, always choose love over ‘marrying well.’ – Cathryn Michon, author of The Grrl Genius Guide to Life.”

That this author had the nerve to compare this book to anything that Jane Austen wrote is pure insanity and tragically, patently, blatantly false. It’s an insult to any reader with brains. Claire LaZebnik ≠ Jane Austen! This book can be more accurately described as being nothing more than a written version of the predictable Hollywood Rom-Com. If Rom-Coms are your favorite kind of movie to watch, then this will be the perfect book for you. It was not the perfect book for me.

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