First, I need to tell you about Romance Sparks Joy. It was born earlier this year in response to yet another slate of predominantly white and straight RITA awards finalists. Courtney Milan initially came up with the idea of an online romance book club that focused on underrepresented authors. She passed it on to a group of readers, reviewers and librarians who have worked hard this year to have a monthly book club on twitter, including author chats. If you are a twitter denizen, you can follow them @sparkjoyromance. They are a truly lovely group. In light of the current implosion at Romance Writers of America, I am going to be doing what I was already unintentionally doing and focusing on reading under-represented authors. And I hope there will be more Romance Sparks Joy Book Clubs next year, because the two I participated in this year were fun.
The read for August was Shira Glassman’s novella Knit One Girl Two. The book centers on two Jewish women who are artists. Clara is a yarn dyer and she sells sock kits to subscribers. She is looking for inspiration for her next dye lot when she is captivated by a series of paintings of Florida landscapes. She leaves her card at the gallery not at all certain that the gallery staff are sold on her claims to be a fellow artist.
The artist, Danielle, does contact her and they meet to discuss a collaboration. Clara is smitten before they meet. When they actually do meet, I fell a little in love with Danielle myself.
Danielle stuck out her right hand with all the force of a weapon, but with a grin that disarmed it. “Hi, I’m Danielle Solomon, and I fucking support representational art. How are you?”
“I’m Clara, and I have a mermaid poster in my bedroom!” Clara quipped. Well, okay, there were two mermaids in the picture and they were making out, but still.
I am not particularity talented when it comes to art, but I wanted to hang out with Clara and Danielle. They are Jewish in different ways, queer in different ways, and artists in different ways, but spark fire (or joy) when they are together. I was inspired for days to knit after I finished Knit One Girl Two. As I feel with most novellas, I wanted more time with the story and the characters. The romance between Clara and Danielle is so sweet I could have basked in it for another couple of hundred pages. Glassman’s writing is sharp and witty while also capturing that sweet awkwardness when two people are attracted but aren’t sure it’s reciprocal.