Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sally Goldenbaum, Death by Cashmere

Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum
Trade paperback
ISBN: 0451225538

What is the book about?
A group of wealthy people who live in Cape Cod and like to knit. The main characters are Nell and Ben, a couple in their sixties, and Izzy, their niece, who owns the Seaside Knitting Studio. Izzy was once a high-powered lawyer at a firm in Boston but gave it up to run the knitting studio. She is a knitting genius and loves creating patterns and making lovely window displays in the store. Nell and Ben do nothing but go to meetings for charitable foundations and buy art. They may be retired now. Anyway, above Izzy's knitting store is an apt. She rents it to her friend Angie, who is found dead. The Seaside Knitters (I think the town is called Seaside) end up solving the case.

What works best about the book?
Setting/atmosphere. The descriptions of yarn and food are quite sumptuous and lovely. Also, there are great descriptions of the beach and the summer. The author has created a community where everyone knows everyone, and they try for the most part to help each other out. The book paints a nice picture of belonging/comfort/beauty.

What doesn't work so well about the book?
The characters are sheltered, clueless rich people who live in a bubble. No one has money problems. No one is ugly. No one is mean. No one is African American. It's a bit creepy in its cluelessness. The fantasy itself--carefree, happy, well-off white people on the seaside--isn't really a dream I can really get into. The other part of the fantasy, however--a world where people are constantly either knitting beautiful things with beautiful yarns and or talking about how pretty the yarns are--worked for me.

In sum
The book is as annoying as it is comforting if you are bothered by the insularity of the community and the characters. If you can let that go, you'll find it all very lovely--but you will probably hate yourself for it later.

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