Friday, 12 December 2014

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Out now
Published by Harper Collins
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

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…

My Review:

What an absolutely gorgeous book this is. I loved it! I have finished it with a warm, fuzzy, festive feeling...and a strong desire to move to Tindledale! My only disappointment is that there isn't another book in the series to read next (I so hope there will be in the future).

The main character is Sybil. She has been jilted at the altar, not only that, but her twin sister is involved. There is a major problem at work where she may have made a big big mistake. Life really isn't going well for her at all. Her one respite and enjoyment is knitting and she seems to have knitted items all over the place.

Things all seem to be too much for Sybil so she decides to escape London and visit her friend who manages a pub in the village of Tindledale. So, along with her dog Basil she packs a bag and leaves in haste. Things start of badly when the car breaks down and she has to get the train. Little does she know just how much the train journey and arrival in Tindledale will change her life.

She arrives in this remote village in vile weather and no idea where she is going. But straight away we start to meet the village folk who are the complete opposite of Londoners, and help her out. As soon as she arrives at her friends pub I felt the warmth of the characters and almost instantly wanted to transport myself there to join her. Her friend is away on a training course so she has to find her own amusement for the weekend. This brings me to my favourite part of the book.......her new friends and the spark it all brings back to her. Perhaps life can come good....

Lawrence runs the local B&B and when she books in he quickly becomes agony aunt and confidante. He has a large warm heart and I could imagine him just taking you under his wing and nursing your broken heart. He has a beautiful soul and I imagine a wicked sense of humour.

Sybil decides to wander round to the local haberdashery store to pick up some wool and needles. This is where she meets Hettie, an elderly lady who owns the shop. She is ageing and frail and the community are worried about her. They click and very quickly Sybil picks up on just how vulnerable Hettie is and wants to help her. It seems that Hettie has quite an exciting past but over the years life hasn't been as kind to her. Her business is failing and her nephew wants her to go into a home. The nasty nephew, and some bailiffs bring the boo, hiss baddies into the story. Sybil warms to Hettie and wants to help her turn things around. They start knitting together and as Sybil makes small changes the shop becomes (very quickly), a gathering place for the community who are roped in to help Hettie get back on her feet, as well as enjoying knitting and nattering!

Hettie has some very sad tales from her past and I felt quite emotional following her story. I wanted to join them, get to know her and make her smile and make life nice for her. Although vulnerable she has a very strong mask and is stoic which makes her even more admirable and likeable. I was desperate for her to be happy.

And I can't not mention the dashing village doctor, Dr Ben. Not only does he sound gorgeous but he is Irish.....perfect in my eyes!!! I have built up a clear image in my mind as to what he looks like. There is a spark between him and Sybil, but will they ever act on it, or get a chance to?

The story is set primarily around Hettie and her shop, and Sybil's quest to get it back on its feet. We also focus on Sybil discovering  what she really wants in life, and finding her feet again. It all felt very exciting and I was totally bought in to it. I actually want to get some knitting needles and wool and learn to knit after reading it. I loved the fresh ideas that Sybil came up with, such as launching an online website and store.

I loved the Japanese tourists who visit Tindledale every Christmas. They find out about the store and place an order which brings everyone together to be able to deliver in time. The reason for the order made me laugh out loud (I won't tell you why and spoil it for you).

There's a mixture of fun, but also emotion and soul searching about the future. I liked the balance and way it was handled. We see Sybil's sister turn up and things become alot clearer around what happened on her wedding day, and what her fiancé was really like. I really enjoyed seeing Sybil come out of her shell and develop the confidence to realise she is a lovely and worthwhile person who has to find out what makes her happy in life. It is something I am also working hard on, so it resonated strongly with me.

After reading this fantastic book I really want to move to Tindledale, or somewhere similar myself. I love the idea of village life and would happily live amongst them. This definitely helped me become so engrossed in this book. It is so well written I found myself totally hooked by the end of the first couple of chapters and found it hard to put down. It is beautifully written with what seems like genuine affection for the characters. I only hope there will be more books so we can visit them all again.

I would definitely urge you to go and pick up a copy, sit back and escape to the beautiful village of Tindledale. A wonderful and uplifting story.

Thank you to Harpercollins who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

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