Email: Lisa Joliecoeur
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Email: Lisa Joliecoeur
January 4, 2018: “Small Great Things” by Jodi Piccoult. Host TBA
Last Meeting Update:
On Thursday, December 6, 2017, Book Club members enjoyed apple pie, an array of cheese, mini pickles and crackers, tea, and sweets at hostess Sandy Daniels’ home, warmed on a chilly night with a
toasty fire, to discuss Susan Meissner’s beautifully crafted novel “Fall of Marigolds.”
From the publisher: “September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries … and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers … the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?”–
This book inspired some terrific conversation. Both women are survivors of terrible tragedy and loss, and the story shows their struggle as they endure day in and day out, month after month. We loved how the two historical tragedies were threaded together by the scarf, and we spent some time unraveling how the scarf traveled from Scotland to Ellis Island in 1911 and found its way to Manhattan 100 years later, a journey that came together in letters and lost stories that made it home through a picture in a magazine. We wrestled with Clara’s ethical dilemma and asked, “what would you do?” to each other. We each wrestled with the answer and discussed the impact our decision would have on a vulnerable individual. Clara had learned that Andrew, an immigrant suffering from Scarlet Fever, had lost his wife Lily of only two weeks aboard the ship during the trip to America, and when Clara retrieved some of his belongings, she inadvertently learned that Lily had packed a letter intended for Andrew which explained her betrayal. Since she died on the ship, Clara was torn: should she destroy the letter and spare Andrew or tell him the truth. We were divided because it was unclear if Andrew was going to survive from the Scarlet Fever; some of us thought the truth would set him free of his suffering over the loss and help him move on with his life, something Clara was unable to do because she had lost someone in the Triangle Waistshirt Factory fire six months before, someone she loved. Would the truth had set Andrew free? That was the dilemma. Meissner also included Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn” in which the character Andrew explains that it is about loving someone or something from a distance and then realizing it’s not exactly the same when up close.
We had some fun selecting actors to portray the various characters. For some reason, a couple of us imagine Ethan (the love interest doctor) looking like a young George Clooney while one of us thought he resembled George Costanza! The characters were vivid and likable, and the ending was wrapped up in a way that was satisfying.
On a rating scale of 1-5 with 1 being “close the door and don’t bother me until I have finished,” 2 being “so glad I read it and own it and spent hours of my life reading it,” 3 being “glad I read it,” 4 being “it was okay but not for everyone and wish I had not purchased it,” and 5 being “oye, did I really spend hours of my life on that?”, the book earned 2’s and one 1.5. It was definitely an enjoyable book that generated some really great conversation.
We will be reading “Small Great Things” by Jodi Piccoult for January at Monica’s home in Norton, and Eugenia Kim’s “The Calligrapher’s Daughter” for February (location TBA). Do you have some choices you would like us to consider? Join us at our next meeting to share!! or email Lisajolicoeu@gmail.com for more information about our Book Club!! Bring a friend!! New people are always welcome!!