Kate Jacobs’a realistic
fiction, The Friday Night Knitting Club
, is the first novel in a series that follows the main characters as their lives – and their knitting projects – progress. The book follows main character Georgia Walker and her biracial daughter Dakota. Georgia runs a successful yarn store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; she and Dakota begin the Friday Night Knitting Club both to bring people into the shop and to serve as a kind of support group and place to unwind after a long week in the city. The book follows the many members of the knitting club through their hectic and highly relatable day-to-day lives, with a particular focus on Georgia and her relationship with Dakota.
Other characters of the series include the high-spirited widow Anita, who is in her seventies; TV producer Lucie; Darwin, a doctoral student struggling to pin down a topic for her thesis; Peri, who works part-time at the yarn shop; and KC, an editor with thoughts to change her career – and the trajectory of her life as a whole.
Georgia's own conflicts during the book begin when she stumbles upon her former best friend Cat Phillips, whom she hasn't seen in years and did not expect to meet again. This rekindling becomes even more strange and twisted when Jamie, Dakota's long-lost father with whom Georgia hasn't had a relationship for all of Dakota's childhood, shows up wanting to play a much more significant role in his daughter's life.
Meanwhile, Darwin, the doctoral student, is struggling in a long-distance relationship with her husband, who is completing a residency far away from New York. She wonders about starting a family, and how her and her husband's careers are getting in the way of their chance to settle down and have children. Peri, who is working part-time at the yarn shop while she finishes law school, is beginning to wonder if she might enjoy her life more if she quit school to start her own line of designer felted purses. Lucie, the television producer, finds herself pregnant, unexpectedly, and has to think about how to suddenly balance a fast-paced career and a family. Anita, whose husband has been dead for many years, develops feelings for the man working in the deli next door to the yarn store. Cat, Georgia's long-lost best friend, is struggling to find her own identity after an ugly separation from her husband and having spent years as a high-society housewife without a job. Young Dakota, who is coming of age among all these women, is constantly under their scrutiny, but also grows from their constant support.
There are many complications in the nature of the bond between these women. Darwin, for instance, has come to the knitting club because she is wondering about the possibly patriarchal nature of knitting, and why it is a hobby enjoyed almost entirely by women. Readers also learn that Jamie, the estranged father of twelve-year-old Dakota, is a handsome, successful architect, who seduced Georgia and then promptly broke her heart when the couple became pregnant. Though Jamie didn't bother to pay child support for the early years of Dakota's life, he still maintains a bit of a pull on Georgia; when he returns to stake his claim as a father after twelve years away, Georgia has a hard time maintaining her emotional balance.
Though all these troubles linger in the novel, the serious conflict begins when Georgia falls seriously ill, and the fate of the yarn store, the knitting club, and Dakota's security all come into question. The women of the Friday Night Knitting Club quickly rally around Georgia to help her care for the store and Dakota, who finds herself suddenly in fear that she won't have a mother. The women promise Georgia that no matter what happens with her health, they will continue the legacy of the yarn store, which brought them together as fast friends and which Georgia spent her life and all of her money building from the ground up.
Overall, the book offers a balanced and realistic portrait of the lives of many different women in New York and the value and power of female friendship. Kate Jacobs wrote The Friday Night Knitting Club
in 2008, and followed the book with two sequels – Knit Two
and Knit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club Book
. She has also written Comfort Food
, a novel in a style similar to her first series about a cooking television show personality and her complicated career, romantic life, and experience raising her two teenaged daughters.