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2005-06-02 15:39:44 (UTC)

A Few Bits of Family News and A Book Review, Of Sorts

Some news from John's family:

His mother is having knee surgery in about two weeks for a
meniscal tear. She's 80 years old so there is some worry
about complications. She's also never had any kind of
surgery before so she may be unprepared for the severity of
the pain or the length of recuperation.

The other piece of news is that John's sister's second
husband's son's girlfriend just had a baby boy. As my
sister-in-law's two children are now both in their 30's,
have never married and seem to have any no interest in ever
marrying or having children, this child may be the only one
my sister-in-law can call a grandchild.

I've begun reading Australian Anne Bartlett's first novel
called "Knitting". I found it by accident when I searched
for new knitting books on the library's website. The
reviews on it were mixed--some people thought it was
wonderful and others, not so wonderful. I haven't finished
it yet, but so far I like it. It's in the vein of writing
like Louise Erdrich's and Carol Shields but doesn't have the
images their books do.

An review reads as follows:

****Sandra Fildes is a woman who knows what she wants.
Brilliant, high-achieving, confident Sandra is an expert in
her field, the historical study of textiles. When Sandra's
husband Jack passes away after a long illness, though,
Sandra finds herself at a loss about how to fill her days
--- and her life --- on her own.

Martha McKenzie may be Sandra's polar opposite. About the
only the thing the two women have in common is the loss of
their husbands; Martha's husband passed away shortly after
their marriage many years ago, when Martha was just a
teenager. Now Martha leads a quiet, unassuming life,
cleaning a local church, living in a small flat, and filling
her hours by practicing her art. Martha is a knitter, but
not just an ordinary "knit a baby blanket for a friend"
knitter; Martha is a true artist, with an intuitive eye for
color, a daring and inventive sense of design, and the
skills of a master.

Through shared conversations, the two form a plan to mount
an exhibition of historically accurate knitted garments,
accompanied by text discussing the importance of women's
domestic work through the ages. "It's something to
celebrate," says Sandra, "clothes made in love and service,
something women have always done."

Sandra, a merely competent knitter at best, commissions
Martha to do all the knitting for the exhibit. Martha, a
perfectionist with a history of mental instability, finds
the task almost impossible. When Sandra realizes that her
incessant pressure brings Martha to the verge of a nervous
breakdown, she must reevaluate her whole approach to
relationships, including her idealized relationship with her
late husband.

Although the title of Anne Bartlett's debut novel is
KNITTING, knitting is merely one theme in this small, quiet
novel. The healing power of women's friendship, the
sustaining quality of meaningful work, the gradual process
of healing after grief --- all are explored against the
backdrop of a simple story about two women forming an
unlikely friendship. ***

I can identify with Martha as she's sort of strange and I
can see how I might have turned out a bit like her if I
hadn't re-married. I'll write more about this book after I
finish it.