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A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber
(Mira, $19.95, G) ISBN 0-7783-2144-4
***
If you have read and enjoyed Debbie Macomber before, then you will like this story that is actually the story of three women and their lives that all revolve around a little yarn store and a sock knitting group – hence the name A Good Yarn. I have read many of Macomber's stories and this one reads like the rest; homey, warm, friendly and just the kind of place everyone wants to live. If that is appealing or you read the first story in the series “The Shop on Blossom Street”, then this book will be your cup of tea. If not, you might find the stories to be surface tales with more chick lit than romance.

Lydia Hoffman is the owner of the store and she is involved with the UPS man, Brad. Her story revolves around his angst over being with Lydia or getting back with his ex-wife so that his son Cody can have his mother. Lydia is also responsible for getting people together through her knitting classes. This time, it is a sock knitting class.

Her sister, Margaret, with whom she is close but can't really connect, helps her out at the store. Margaret’s tale involves the difficulties she encounters when her husband gets laid off.

Three women join the sock knitting class and each is featured in consecutive chapters throughout the book. Elise Beaumont is a divorcee who is forced to move in with her daughter and family when she gets swindled in an investment. She is determined to get back on her feet, but her life is complicated when her ex-husband comes back into the picture. He is a professional gambler who chose to bet on life rather than be true to his wife and child. He is back to spend time with his daughter.

Bethanne Hamlin is introduced as a woman who has just learned that her husband of 20 years has been cheating on her and is leaving his family. Bethanne's tale is completely about her struggles with the divorce and trying to find work after being a stay at home mom her whole life. Her teenagers are major characters too, as they also have to deal with a change in their lives. Her daughter Annie rebels and her son Andrew closes up.

Finally we have Courtney Pulanski, a 17-year-old who is forced to move in with her grandmother for her senior year in high school. Her mother died in a car accident and now her father has to go to Brazil for a year with his job. With her older sister in college and her older brother not able to take her in, moving to Seattle with grandma is her only choice. She is depressed and has put on 30 pounds since her mother died. Now she is lonely and overweight with little self-esteem.

These three women and Lydia become friends while they learn to knit socks. This seemed a little weird at first, but fits right in with the tone. The three ladies are so diverse, it seems almost unreal that they would stick this out together, but once their friendships develop, it seems more natural. Their lives begin to intertwine as they try to support each other as they grow and come to know each other. Courtney becomes friends with Bethanne's children and Elise helps Bethanne figure out her calling in life. Lydia tries to support her family and keep her sense of what is right when she and Brad struggle.

These stories are clearly character-driven. There is some romance but it is very low key. The primary emphasis is on learning to like oneself and then finding one's rightful place. Several secondary characters are introduced but there is no real depth to any of them. The story is told from the women's point of view. There is some understanding of their motivations, but even that is generally surface understanding. The feel of the story is light and friendly and warm, a standard of Macomber's.

I did enjoy this story as it is easy to read and the flow is even. But it feels much like many of her other novels with just a different street and names. Fans will like it and should find it enjoyable. A Good Yarn is about life as connected through a sock knitting class, and they even finish more than one pair!

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--Shirley Lyons


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