Book Club… What we’ve read

Foxboro Jaycees Book Club

#TITLEbyAUTHORRATINGCOMMENTS
151RubybyCynthia BondFive books discussed; no ratings assigned(website: Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage.) Book Club members who read this book thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and interesting story lines. We agreed that the book reminded us of Toni Morrison's style, such as in "Beloved," and some of the magical realism of Isabelle Allende. While some of the behavior seemed bizarre in the novel, such as Ruby's obsession with "ghosts," we loved exploring the reasons and ultimately the themes represented by such behaviors. Dealing with some heavy topics, the novel offered a unique approach and tenderness that we found compelling.
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Five books discussed! (No ratings this time around) On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Book Club members met at Lisa's house where they were served hot apple cobbler with freshly picked apples from The Big Apple, almond spice bread, fruit, crackers and cheese spread, an array of delicious herbal teas, and wine. Happy to reconnect after our summer hiatus, the room was abuzz with conversations about travel, summer activities, family, and books.
150Underground Railroadby Colsom Whitehead Five books discussed; no ratings assigned(From the publisher: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.)
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Five books discussed! (No ratings this time around) On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Book Club members met at Lisa's house where they were served hot apple cobbler with freshly picked apples from The Big Apple, almond spice bread, fruit, crackers and cheese spread, an array of delicious herbal teas, and wine. Happy to reconnect after our summer hiatus, the room was abuzz with conversations about travel, summer activities, family, and books.
149BelgraviabyJulian Fellowes (writer of Downton Abbey):Five books discussed; no ratings assigned(from the website:It’s the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, 15th June 1815. The Duchess of Richmond throws a magnificent ball in Brussels for the Duke of Wellington. The guests include James and Anne Trenchard, who have made their money in trade. Their beautiful daughter Sophia has caught the eye of Edmund Bellasis, the son and heir of one of Britain’s most prominent families. Twenty-five years later, when the two families are settled in the newly developed area of Belgravia, the events of the ball still resonate. Because behind Belgravia’s magnificent doors is a world of secrets, gossip and intrigue…
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Five books discussed! (No ratings this time around) On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Book Club members met at Lisa's house where they were served hot apple cobbler with freshly picked apples from The Big Apple, almond spice bread, fruit, crackers and cheese spread, an array of delicious herbal teas, and wine. Happy to reconnect after our summer hiatus, the room was abuzz with conversations about travel, summer activities, family, and books.
148Gentleman in MoscowbyAmor TowlesFive books discussed; no ratings assigned In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.)
Book club members who read this book had a great deal to discuss. We agreed that at first, the novel appeared to be limited in scope, but the richness of details brought a broad array of characters to life and made it feel as though they were not confined to one place. Additionally, there was great attention to food and lavish style, which made the Count a very likable and funny person. We enjoyed his liaison with the actress and loved that he made his little room something unique and fun.

Those of us who read this book enjoyed it very much and some even said they did not want it to end. As it turns out, one of our Book Club members attended college with the author!! Maybe he'll visit one of our meetings??
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Five books discussed! (No ratings this time around) On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Book Club members met at Lisa's house where they were served hot apple cobbler with freshly picked apples from The Big Apple, almond spice bread, fruit, crackers and cheese spread, an array of delicious herbal teas, and wine. Happy to reconnect after our summer hiatus, the room was abuzz with conversations about travel, summer activities, family, and books.
147News of the World byPaulette JilesFive books discussed; no ratings assignedThose of us who read this book loved it: In 1870, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence. We enjoyed the descriptions of the places the captain visited and the varied receptions he received. We also discussed how in today's world we are inundated with news, so often that we take for granted that information is always within reach. Jiles crafts great details of people hanging on every word Kidd shares, and Kidd is thrilled when he arrives in a community with updated news papers. The ending of the novel is satisfying.
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Five books discussed! (No ratings this time around) On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Book Club members met at Lisa's house where they were served hot apple cobbler with freshly picked apples from The Big Apple, almond spice bread, fruit, crackers and cheese spread, an array of delicious herbal teas, and wine. Happy to reconnect after our summer hiatus, the room was abuzz with conversations about travel, summer activities, family, and books.
146Hillbilly ElegybyJD Vance1 to 3Vance's book gave Book club members a great deal to discuss, especially the vividness of his family. Vance's grandmother was our favorite family member. Mamaw's good values juxtapose the craziness of her personality, and we agreed that she resonates in the book as the most influential relative for Vance. She rescued Vance from a difficult family situation because his mother, despite a nursing career, was a drug addict and married several times. Vance lived with Mamaw and eventually became a Marine and went to college. His descriptions of his life during those challenging teen years reminded us of other books we had read, such as "All Souls" and "Glass Castles." The details reminded us that there are many kids who go to school every day with the weight of the world on their shoulders, with serious fears about where the next meal will come from, if there will be violence in their home that evening, etc. We discussed several passages regarding this topic, including the following: “I remember watching an episode of The West Wing about education in America, which the majority of people rightfully believe is the key to opportunity. In it, the fictional president debates whether he should push school vouchers (giving public money to schoolchildren so that they escape failing public schools) or instead focus exclusively on fixing those same failing schools. That debate is important, of course—for a long time, much of my failing school district qualified for vouchers—but it was striking that in an entire discussion about why poor kids struggled in school, the emphasis rested entirely on public institutions. As a teacher at my old high school told me recently, “They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.”

We admired the strength of Mamaw to help her grandchildren, and we also liked Papaw Vance from the Kentucky Vances from the Hatfield and McCoy feud. (2012 miniseries about the feud - Tom Berenger played a lead Vance.) Despite the best efforts of Mamaw and Papaw to bring their family to a nice area, they could not escape the chaos JD Vance's mother seemed to perpetuate. Vance experienced a great deal of harsh moments with his mother; her inability to overcome her additions to provide stability for her family was so tragic.

We also discussed Vance's depiction of negativity he saw in the poverty that surrounded his community, leading to conversations about the objective manner in which he describes the situations (even though it must have been really painful for him), the role of religion as it applied to to the different family members such as Mamaw and Vance's biological father, and the role of life skills as empowering for people (which led to education today and the need for life skills, such as cooking, sewing, financial literacy, etc.). The following passages from the book inspired these conversations:

“We’ll get fired for tardiness, or for stealing merchandise and selling it on eBay, or for having a customer complain about the smell of alcohol on our breath, or for taking five thirty-minute restroom breaks per shift. We talk about the value of hard work but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: Obama shut down the coal mines, or all the jobs went to the Chinese. These are the lies we tell ourselves to solve the cognitive dissonance—the broken connection between the world we see and the values we preach."

“To this day, being able to “take advantage” of someone is the measure in my mind of having a parent. For me and Lindsay, the fear of imposing stalked our minds, infecting even the food we ate. We recognized instinctively that many of the people we depended on weren’t supposed to play that role in our lives, so much so that it was one of the first things Lindsay thought of when she learned of Papaw’s death. We were conditioned to feel that we couldn’t really depend on people—that, even as children, asking someone for a meal or for help with a broken-down automobile was a luxury that we shouldn’t indulge in too much lest we fully tap the reservoir of goodwill serving as a safety valve in our lives.”

Our conversation turned to television shows, such as "Justified" and "Appalacian documentary," both of which provided portrayals of life as Vance described it. The documentary described the challenges teens face to obtain an education to better their lives.

The ratings varied: On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being "blah" and 1 being "turn off the phone and lock the doors until I finish this book," the book earned a few 1.5's, 2's and one 3. Most of us agreed that the book, while interesting, insightful and seemingly authentic, was much richer in ideas and fodder for discussion, and there were many aspects we had missed until discussed in our group.
145The Red CoatbyDolley Carlson2On Thursday-- May 4-- 2017-- Book Club members enjoyed delicious scones-- tea sandwiches and an array of teas to discuss Dolley Carlson's amazing novel "The Red Coat: A Book of Boston--" a wonderful novel that follows the events started by Irish domestic worker Norah King-- who asks her wealthy employer Caroline Parker for an elegant red coat the Beacon Hill matriarch had marked for the donation bin. The coat-- "last season's--" had belonged to Caroline's daughter Cordelia and was hardly worn-- but to Norah-- the coat would be a serious treasure for her daughter Rosemary-- one of Norah's children; Norah's life is not easy due to her alcoholic and abusive husband and the constant struggle to make ends meet. Despite these struggles-- however-- Norah maintains a sense of class and dignity and thus realizes the contribution this coat would make to keeping her daughter warm as well as proud. It is very difficult for her to ask her employer for such a favor-- but she does it for her daughter. The attention to detail during scene fairly early in the novel sets the stage for the kind of character she is as well as revealing a great deal about her the character of Carline Parker. Carlson's novel portrays realities surrounding financial struggle-- family loss-- class prejudices-- the role of faith-- and changes in societal expectations for women. There was a great deal of change Boston during the 1940s and 50s-- and Carlson provides a slice into many different areas with lots of historical allusions specific to Boston.

Book Club members shared their own personal history and experiences with Boston-- making connections and comparisons with Carlson-- whose grandparents arrived in Boston from Ireland in 1917. Carlson-- whose father was a Boston Police Officer-- lived in the Old Colony Housing Project during the 40s and 50s-- so we talked about other books we have read-- such as "Brooklyn" and "All Souls--" that evoked some connections to themes-- plot or characters. We also enjoyed discussing the rich development of the characters-- loving the contrast between classes and unexpected losses-- such as with Norah and the Parker parents. Both Caroline and Norah illustrate class and dignity despite their socioeconomic differences-- and both strive to embed these values in their children. Norah-- for example-- has so little-- yet she takes pride in finding clothes to dress her children nicely for church. She also ensures that tea is served with attention to detail in her little home. We also noted how frugality was more of a virtue in this book. For example-- when someone got married-- there was a lot of excitement surrounding a borrowed wedding dress with "some alteration" and the specialness of a certain flower or treat versus the excess of weddings today. Additionally-- Norah struggled to make ends meet but ensured that her children looked presentable every time they left the house. This led to conversation about style and what defines "presentable." Clothes and appearances in this novel led to conversations about attire in the workplace and church have changed so drastically over the years. Is this for the better?

We very much enjoyed discussing Carlson ability to craft such vivid moments using simple language and understatement. We talked about several scenes-- but one that stood out to us most was the description of police carrying a little girl's pair of shoes from house to house to identify the little girl who had been struck down by a car and the reaction of the parents when they learn of the tragedy. The other scene that evoked such emotion was early in the story when Norah is returning home from work and notices that the shades are drawn in her apartment window as she approaches-- indicating that her husband is in a bad way from his drinking; the reader views the window from Norah's perspective as she trudges home from her hard job to face a grueling situation. The story moves from the parents to the children of Norah and Caroline seamlessly with their passing (in different ways)-- and each gave us so much to discuss! In fact-- we had to cut Book club off at 10 pm-- well past our 9 pm ending time! There was just so much to discuses!!

We so very much enjoyed this book and gave it 2's (on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest). The printed version of the book has a gorgeous cover and includes lots of pictures of Boston; each image has a little blurb about the location. There are great pictures of churches and landmarks-- and on page 392-- there is a picture from Jaycees' very own Bob Gillis!!
144Born a CrimebyTrevor Noah2Despite torrential downpours-- Book Club members met on Thursday-- April 1-- 2017 at the home of Michele Rogers-- who graciously served an array of teas-- crackers and cheese-- fresh fruit-- and creative South African fare to go along with the memoir of Trevor Noah-- whose compelling memoir Born A Crime about growing up during apartheid and "the tumultuous days of freedom that followed"(from the publisher) intrigued us and kept us in conversation for hours!!


From the publisher: "Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion-- Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life-- bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could-- at any moment-- steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule-- Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure-- living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle."



Members very much enjoyed Noah's engaging literary voice as he described his parents and neighborhood with captivating imagery and humor that brought to life his challenging surroundings while also celebrating the deep sense of community he felt amidst the need to hide his existence; the wonderful women in his life-- such as his mother and grandmother; the colorful stories of friends and mischief; and the opportunities that presented themselves through his budding career. Noah shared stories about school-- food-- jail-- and family strife. He is very smart and knows 12 languages-- learned from the many communities he was exposed to. He says on page 56 of the book that “Language-- even more than color-- defines who you are to people.” This chapter is called "Chameleon."


The conversation the 18 essays in the book inspired was great. When rating the book on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest-- the book earned several 2's. Overall-- we were very happy to have read this book and to have engaged in such rich conversation!
Norah King-- who asks her wealthy employer Caroline Parker for an elegant red coat the Beacon Hill matriarch had marked for the donation bin. The coat-- "last season's--" had belonged to Caroline's daughter Cordelia and was hardly worn-- but to Norah-- the coat would be a serious treasure for her daughter Rosemary-- one of Norah's children; Norah's life is not easy due to her alcoholic and abusive husband and the constant struggle to make ends meet. Despite these struggles-- however-- Norah maintains a sense of class and dignity and thus realizes the contribution this coat would make to keeping her daughter warm as well as proud. It is very difficult for her to ask her employer for such a favor-- but she does it for her daughter. The attention to detail during scene fairly early in the novel sets the stage for the kind of character she is as well as revealing a great deal about her the character of Carline Parker. Carlson's novel portrays realities surrounding financial struggle-- family loss-- class prejudices-- the role of faith-- and changes in societal expectations for women. There was a great deal of change Boston during the 1940s and 50s-- and Carlson provides a slice into many different areas with lots of historical allusions specific to Boston.

Book Club members shared their own personal history and experiences with Boston-- making connections and comparisons with Carlson-- whose grandparents arrived in Boston from Ireland in 1917. Carlson-- whose father was a Boston Police Officer-- lived in the Old Colony Housing Project during the 40s and 50s-- so we talked about other books we have read-- such as "Brooklyn" and "All Souls--" that evoked some connections to themes-- plot or characters. We also enjoyed discussing the rich development of the characters-- loving the contrast between classes and unexpected losses-- such as with Norah and the Parker parents. Both Caroline and Norah illustrate class and dignity despite their socioeconomic differences-- and both strive to embed these values in their children. Norah-- for example-- has so little-- yet she takes pride in finding clothes to dress her children nicely for church. She also ensures that tea is served with attention to detail in her little home. We also noted how frugality was more of a virtue in this book. For example-- when someone got married-- there was a lot of excitement surrounding a borrowed wedding dress with "some alteration" and the specialness of a certain flower or treat versus the excess of weddings today. Additionally-- Norah struggled to make ends meet but ensured that her children looked presentable every time they left the house. This led to conversation about style and what defines "presentable." Clothes and appearances in this novel led to conversations about attire in the workplace and church have changed so drastically over the years. Is this for the better?

We very much enjoyed discussing Carlson ability to craft such vivid moments using simple language and understatement. We talked about several scenes-- but one that stood out to us most was the description of police carrying a little girl's pair of shoes from house to house to identify the little girl who had been struck down by a car and the reaction of the parents when they learn of the tragedy. The other scene that evoked such emotion was early in the story when Norah is returning home from work and notices that the shades are drawn in her apartment window as she approaches-- indicating that her husband is in a bad way from his drinking; the reader views the window from Norah's perspective as she trudges home from her hard job to face a grueling situation. The story moves from the parents to the children of Norah and Caroline seamlessly with their passing (in different ways)-- and each gave us so much to discuss! In fact-- we had to cut Book club off at 10 pm-- well past our 9 pm ending time! There was just so much to discuses!!

We so very much enjoyed this book and gave it 2's (on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest). The printed version of the book has a gorgeous cover and includes lots of pictures of Boston; each image has a little blurb about the location. There are great pictures of churches and landmarks-- and on page 392-- there is a picture from Jaycees' very own Bob Gillis!!
143Crooked Letter-- Crooked LetterbyTom Franklin1.5On Thursday evening-- December 1st-- host Cathy greeted Book Club members with hot apple cider - jazzed up if so desired with Butterschnapps!! - Grandma's Coffee Cake-- pecan tarts-- and veggies and dip! What a perfect way to jumpstart conversation about a delicious mystery: Tom Franklin's "Crooked Letter-- Crooked Letter--" a modern drama that flashes back to the late 1970s when Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds could not have differed more: Larry was the son of lower-middle-class white parents while Silas was the son of a poor-- single black mother. The boys were seemingly friends until later in high school when Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie; she was never heard from again. Larry was blamed-- and Silas left the town. The novel is set 20 years later with Larry-- a mechanic-- living by himself-- ostracized by the town for an incident for which he was never charged but always blamed. Silas now returns as a constable-- and their paths cross when a girl disappears-- and Larry appears to be the obvious suspect.

Book Club members enjoyed this book very much because the narrative was carefully crafted-- the characters were very well developed-- and the plot twists were surprising and enjoyable to discover. At first-- the memories appeared disjointed-- but we agreed that they began to make sense as the image of their childhood took shape. We discussed the sympathy we felt for Larry because his father was so emotionally abusive-- which probably led to continued torture at school because of the lack of confidence he must have felt. We noted scenes that were really painful to read: the scene when Larry wears a mask but is then excluded - Franklin did a nice job leading readers to believe it was "his moment--" only to experience disappointment that we too felt; the scene in which Larry and Silas are forced to fight was painful as was the incident with coats; and the scene in which Larry is coerced into insulting a fellow student by some of his peers and the outcome. We discussed the clues: the picture! aha moment! We also discussed the title and racial challenges that impacted the actions of all the characters-- a challenge that definitely impacted the outcome of Larry's life as well as the girl who had disappeared. There is a lot of racism in the novel and fear that drives the characters to behave in certain ways. Considering the abusive nature of Larry's father-- it is ironic that he has a relationship with Alice-- Silas' mother-- and the big reveal toward the end of the novel leaves us in wonder as well. When he makes Larry fight with Silas-- there is a racist undertone to the anger Larry's dad has-- almost as if he is indeed educating Larry or Silas or both about the relationship between black and white people. This led to a discussion of the title. I found an interview with Tom Franklin:
INTERVIEW WITH TOM FRANKLIN:

Could you explain the significance behind the title of your new novel-- CROOKED LETTER-- CROOKED LETTER-- and its setting?

"The title comes from a pneumonic device to teach southern children how to spell Mississippi. M-- I-- crooked letter-- crooked letter-- I-- crooked letter-- crooked letter-- I-- humpback-- humpback-- I. We moved to the crooked letter (slang for Mississippi) in 2001. I just loved it and wondered why no one had used it before. It sounded like an Elmore Leonard novel to me-- and that was a good thing. It also seemed-- or sounded-- like a crime novel.

When I began to try and figure out how the title fit this story-- the story of 32 Jones and Larry Ott-- it occurred to me that-- in some ways-- the book is about how southern children are educated into racism."

Ratings: High Marks for Franklin's novel - 1.5-- 2's and 2.5. We also had a great time discussing some of other favorite crime fiction.
142BrooklynbyColm Tóibín’sSee SummaryOn Thursday-- November 3-- 2016-- Book Club met at the home of Patricia Kelley for amazing NY inspired treats - Reuben sandwiches-- cheesecake-- cannoli and of course an array of teas!!- to discuss Brooklyn-- Colm Tóibín’s New York Times bestselling novel about a young Irish immigrant in Brooklyn in the early 1950s.
"Committed to a quiet life in little Enniscorthy-- Ireland-- the industrious young Eilis Lacey reluctantly finds herself swept up in an unplanned adventure to America-- engineered by the family priest and her glamorous-- "ready for life" sister-- Rose. Eilis's determination to embrace the spirit of the journey despite her trepidation--especially on behalf of Rose-- who has sacrificed her own chance of leaving--makes a bittersweet center for Brooklyn. Colm Tóibín's spare portrayal of this contemplative girl is achingly lovely-- and every sentence rings with truth. Readers will find themselves swept across the Atlantic with Eilis to a boarding house in Brooklyn where she painstakingly adapts to a new life-- reinventing herself and her surroundings in the letters she writes home. Just as she begins to settle in with the help of a new love-- tragedy calls her home to Enniscorthy-- and her separate lives suddenly and painfully merge into one. Tóibín's haunted heroine glows on the page-- unforgettably and lovingly rendered-- and her story reflects the lives of so many others exiled from home." (Book Review by Daphne Durham).

Although the book is a movie-- none of us had seen it but were excited to learn that it is available on film because we very much enjoyed the story and characters. We discussed how the narrative varied in that we often did not feel as connected to the main character as we would have liked but noted that the disconnect contributed perhaps to her lack of control of her own life: in Ireland-- her vivacious and beautiful sister Rose arranged for Eilis to go to America-- and Eilis quietly accepts these life altering decisions. We discussed why Rose may have sent her sister rather than herself. Eilis again appears to accept her fate later in the novel with her beau and again with her family back in Ireland. Book members made many great connections to other examples of stories about characters who hide their emotions and even led to the sharing of personal experiences with similar situations. Other characters intrigued us: Eilis' mother-- whose neediness burdened her daughters: Tony-- whose love did not seem enough at times for Eilis; the priest-- whose excessive patience-- kindness and generosity warranted discussion;and Eilis' employer in Ireland whose stoicism and harshness seemed unfair at times. We also found the ending to be a cliffhanger-- so we definitely enjoyed discussing our different interpretations about what happens to our main character! There were so many aspects of this novel we enjoyed discussing! The ratings ranged: (1 is the highest while 5 is the lowest) several 2.5's-- two 1.5's-- several 2's and one 1 and one 3.5.
141Station 11byEmily St. John MandelEmily St. John Mandel's - On Thursday-- October 6th-- Book Club had a spectacular evening at the home of Laureen House during which we enjoyed great conversation about Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven" while also having a baby book shower for Stephanie-- complete with a delicious array of freshly brewed teas-- veggies and dip-- and cupcakes with pink and white frosting! (she's expecting a girl!) We also enjoyed reminiscing over some of our favorite titles-- including "The Giving Tree--" "Harold and the Purple Crayon--" "Green Eggs and Ham--" some Eric Carle titles with great illustrations before engaging in rich conversations about one summer reading title we had postponed until this month as well as Mandel's 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award winning science fiction set in the Great Lakes region after a fictional swine flu pandemic-- known as the 'George Flu--' has devastated the world. The novel focuses on the ability of the humans to find meaning through art and literature twenty years after the epidemic.


"Station Eleven" Discussion: Mandel's novel evoked some great conversation. Several of us mentioned that the thought of reading a post-apocalyptic novel was not exciting at first-- but we agreed that this was different. The novel did not have the uncomfortable chaos that ensues after whatever disaster might occur. This novel begins with an actor named Arthur dying onstage during King Lear-- followed by a quickly spreading plague that wipes out 99% of the population. Twenty years later-- the reader encounters several characters who all had some connection to Arthur-- and through a focus on them with flashbacks-- we learn how they have managed to survive-- what they value-- and that they are on the cusp of a new beginning. We discussed so many topics-- including the quiet horror of loneliness and isolation-- lack of conversation-- presence of disorder-- lack of electricity-- the need to focus on what is important. Main character Kirstin has a curious collection of items: we wondered what items we might value. The lack of electricity and electronic devices is highlighted by rich descriptions of stars in the sky-- forests and road-- and at one point-- one of the characters-- Jeevan-- goes through the subway system before the plague and refers to "zombies" who are addicted to the electronic devices-- a detail that becomes significant later in the story when there is no access to electricity or power and thus nothing to distract people. We compared the themes of this novel to some other works: "The Stand--" "Fahrenheit 451--" "The Day After--" and "77 Days in September." Interestingly-- we were not sure who was supposed to be the main character because there were so many well developed characters who provided unique perspectives to the story and who seemed equally important. One image we discussed was how quietly everything just kind of shut down immediately after the plague had hit the world. For example-- there were just a few newscasts-- then just one-- then the newscasters said goodbye-- that this was the last newscast. We found that "shutting down" of things to be quietly frightening and gave us a chance to reflect on what things we value holding onto and what we would miss. Memories of being able to flip a switch and have electricity-- among other things-- were elusive to many people in the story-- and of course completely unfathomable to the young children born so many years after the electricity had shut down. This gave us a great deal to talk about in terms of our world today in which children can't image a rotary phone-- having a handful of television shows-- for example.


Summer Reading List Catching Up:
Herman Koch's "The Dinner" - Last month-- several who had read it loved it and encouraged anyone who enjoys a psychological thriller to read it! We continued the conversation about the novel this month. Several members read it after hearing such positive reviews from other members. Basic Plot: Two brothers and their wives dine at a restaurant to discuss a incident involving their children. First person narrator Paul Lohman reveals his instability as the truth unravels for the reader. Many topics we discussed included mental illness-- family-- politics-- crime as well as the narrative style and the haunting plot.


Everyone is invited to consider some potential titles for future meetings! What would you like to put on your reading list? 🙂
140When Heaven and Earth Changed PlacesbyLe Ly HyslipOn Thursday evening-- June 9th-- the Book Club was welcomed by hostess Dawn with tea-- fruit and snacks to discuss Le Ly Hayslip's "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places--" a "1989 memoir about [Hayslip's] childhood during the Vietnam War-- her escape to the United States-- and her return 16 years later"(Amazon).

Book Club members engaged in great conversations about other books about war that we have read recently-- such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Rain--" which was the book that inspired our selection of this book. We discussed the differences in narrative styles and how that influenced our reading and understanding of this stories. We all agreed that Hayslip has a pleasant storytelling style that captivated the reader. She creates some suspense with her return to Vietnam after 20 years in the United States-- expressing fear that she would be arrested.
Group members agreed that there was a great deal to learn from this book. Hayslip-- who lived in a rural Vietnamese village-- described how villagers were caught in the middle of what was a struggle between power factions of Vietnamese (North and South as well as terror of Viet Cong while viewing US as yet another enemy). Hayslip's family participated in underground activities but found themselves victimized by their own people because of the paranoia and distrust. The Book Group discussed how this reminded us of Malala's plight in her story.


Hayslip also describes how the rural farmers were so attached to their land. This was seen in burying money-- respecting the burial place of ancestors on the land with shrines-- and an unwillingness to leave despite the dangers. A connection to the land represented a deep connection to their own culture.

The Book Club group talked about a range of additional topics: the role of women and the presence of violence in the book; role of religion; and role of duty and honor. War posed such a disruption to all the important values; there were some really painful parts in the book-- and we agreed that the sad case of Hayslip's aunt illustrated the hardships of loss as a result of the war-- violence and loss.

The book was made into a movie with Tommy Lee Jones called "Heaven and Earth."

Most of us rated the book a 2 on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest while one person gave it a 2.5. We enjoyed the conversation very much and continued past our 9 pm curfew!
139Slaughterhouse-FivebyKurt Vonnegut2On a cold rainy Thursday evening-- May 5th-- the Book Club enjoyed the deliciously inviting and warm living room of Stephanie O. who-- along with her two cats-- welcomed everyone with a fire-- an array of teas and beverages-- an array of cracker treats and fresh fruit. The group discussed Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slaughterhouse-Five": The publisher posted the following description of the novel on Amazon: "Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim-- a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity-- we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life-- concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden...[the novel] fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination-- humanity-- and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works-- but the book's basis in rock-hard-- tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor."


Book Club members engaged in great conversations about "Slaughterhouse-Five--" including what we learned about Kurt Vonnegut's life. Many of us knew very little about him prior to reading the novel-- so we shared what we learned about him: After leaving Cornell-- he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and was captured with other American soldiers in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. They were sent to a factory that produced malt syrup for pregnant women. During the raid of Dresden-- he and the other soldiers were locked in a meat locker well below ground and surfaced to find that the city had been bombed. He returned home from war eventually-- married-- had a career and home on Cape Cod.


The Book Club members discussed how captivating the first chapter of the novel was because it contained so many autobiographical pieces of information-- especially Vonnegut's true struggle to write about WWII. Chapter 2 becomes the war story but through the third person story of Billy Pilgrim-- who like Vonnegut-- finds himself trapped in the same circumstances in Dresden Vonnegut had experienced. Billy-- however-- appears to be time traveller-- an quality that connects him to an alien race-- Tralfamadorians-- who comment on the inevitability of a war due to the nature of humanity. Book Club members discussed questions revolving around whether the aliens were a figment of Billy's imagination or literally present in the story; we discussed the role of women; we discussed the streaming narrative style that lends to the lack of continuity of time. One of the important themes in the novel intrigued us: the meaninglessness of life and death in the novel. The aliens explain that the past is never gone; therefore-- the little moments of life and death are meaningless. "So it goes" is repeated after each reference to death to reiterate this point. Book Club members engaged in conversations about the effects of war and fate versus free will. We also concluded that we were surprised that the book did not have a horrifying story to explain war; rather-- the little stories captured the horrors of the war-- such as the story about tasting the sweetness of the malt while a POW in the malt factory with a secret spoon; the suffering of the horses during the escape from Dresden; the English teacher killed for stealing a teapot; and the performance of Cinderella at the POW camp. We also discussed Billy's relationship with his family-- his career as an optometrist-- and ability to tell the story without the glamorization of war. Most of us rated the book a 2 on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest while a couple gave it a 2.5. We enjoyed the conversation very much.
138FrankensteinbyMary Shelley2 to 4On Thursday-- 4/7-- the Book Club enjoyed a delicious fruit tart-- an array of crackers and toppers-- and delicious warm tea with honey in a room warmed by a fire at the home of gracious hostess Sandy Daniels to discuss Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein." There were several parts of the novel that intrigued us and led to conversations: the opening letters-- for example - what was the purpose? how did they tie to the ending? what did Walton really see? This led to conversations about who really sees the monster and if the monster could really exist; could it be the alter personality of Victor? That led to careful analysis of how that could have been plausible. We really enjoyed going through the book and finding interesting passages. We examined the language of the monster's story and saw several parallels to Adam in the Bible. We compared the novel to different films we had seen-- including the popular "Young Frankenstein." Although we enjoyed discussing many of the topics surrounding the book-- several members found the writing-- while beautiful at parts-- was a bit choppy; some parts were hard to follow; there was some areas that were not "page turners." As a result-- the book ratings from 2-4-- with 1 being the highest-- 5 the lowest.


137RainbyRichard Elliot3 or 4On Thursday-- 2/3-- the Book Club enjoyed a Tastefully Simple Almond Pound Cake with raspberry jam and whipped cream-- crackers and a brie spread-- some fruit and delicious warm tea with honey while discussing a range of topics related to Richard Elliot's "Rain" as well as other books. Richard Elliot graduated from Foxboro High in 1962 and joined the Navy as a route to college via the GI Bill. Richard's memoir (a disclaimer refers to the book as fiction but inspired by true events) details his experience in boot camp and then in Vietnam. Our conversations revolved around the amount of detail he included (some of us thought there was too much of the day to day-- especially in that first chapter which was very long) as well as the people who impacted his life-- such as his friend Snowball. We enjoyed the story about his friend Snowball and being Snowball's best man at his wedding-- and we grasped the depth of his loss. We were left with many questions about Richard's life after the story ended because we felt he left the ending unresolved about certain points. Dawn is going to see if Richard would be willing to meet us at the library and answer our questions!

We talked about other books about war: "Things They Carried--" "Killer Angels--" "Born on the Fourth of July" among others.
Although we enjoyed discussing many of the topics surrounding the book-- ultimately we found the book a bit choppy and incomplete. As a result-- the book received several ratings of 3 and 4.

136SHORT STORIESbyVarious On Thursday evening-- January 7-- 2016-- Book Club members convened at the home of Sandy Daniels and enjoyed by the warm fire an assortment of tea-- crackers and cheese-- shrimp cocktail and warm apples coated in cinnamon and honey and while discussing five Short Stories from “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry."



1. “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” Raymond Carver-- 1980: We enjoyed exploring the two couples in this story. We thought the narrator subtly portrayed Mel to be on the cusp of a bully-- ironic since he is a cardiologist and criticizes his wife's assertion that she knew what love was because she had been in a relation with an abusive first husband. The language that went back and forth between them was really interesting-- but the subtle observations of the narrator offered even more insight because he was sarcastic and used a lot of understatement to show the reader how obnoxious Mel was. In "A.J. Fikry--" Fikry tells his daughter Maya that this story was his favorite but "cannot begin to say why." In the chapter-- Ismay sells the book to pay for Fikry's treatments-- Maya stays at the hospital to be with Fikry rather than go to an event-- and Amy stays by his side-- using humor to comfort him even though he cannot talk. We think that the chapter illustrated the power of love - sometimes it's elusive and not understandable-- but we know it's there. We rated this story a "2" on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the best.

2. “A Perfect Day for Banana-fish” by J D Salinger--1948. We all agreed that this complex story was hard to understand and quite dark. Fikry references this story as a great example of storytelling to Maya when she is struggling to revise a story for a competition. While we thought the story was a strange story to suggest for such an occasion-- we did find the storytelling of it creative. We discussed the effects of WWII on young men such as Seymour-- the main character-- and the quiet suffering he experienced. We also noted that the people around him were in a great deal of danger-- yet he did not hurt them. We also noted the excessive materialism of Muriel and even of the young girl. Most of us gave this story a 3 but did enjoy reading a Salinger short story since we ended up discussing "Catcher in the Rye." 3. “Ironhead”-- Aimee Bender-- 2005. This quirky story really had us thinking: a couple of pumpkin heads have a child with an iron head?? Our ratings ranged from 1.5 to 4-- but the conversation was really interesting. We considered that the child was an outsider-- that the parents were possibly outsiders or different in some manner-- leading us to consider race-- disability-- etc. and examine how others treated them. This story appeared in Fikry at the beginning of the chapter during which Fikry's mother visited and Fikry experienced early signs of his illness. 4. “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”-- 1865-- Mark Twain. While we all enjoyed the humor and satire of Twain-- we did not find a whole lot to discuss and rated the story mostly 3's and 4's. Fikry referenced this story in the chapter when the fake author showed up. There was a lot of humor and sarcasm: "the frog fails to live up to his expectations."

5. “The Bookseller” - Roald Dahl-- 1986. This was totally our favorite story and earned almost all 1's! We loved the characters-- the understated conversation between the two characters-- and the ending. We loved how they used the information learned about their victims from their obituaries to connect them to books. This was what Fikry said made the story his favorite: books connect to people. This led to some great conversations about how Fikry learned about the people who came into his store and forged relationships with books-- such as ordering books to appeal to the cops and such.

We did discuss some of the other stories-- as well-- and loved the experience of reading the stories referenced in the novel. Would we consider reading a collection of short stories in the future? We thought the idea sounded appealing!



Happy Reading!

135The Girl on the TrainbyPaula Hawkins2.5On Thursday evening-- December 3rd-- Book Club members were treated to a variety of deliciously flavored teas-- fresh fruit and angel cake-- courtesy of hostess Dawn Hadley-- while engaging in a lively discussion of British author Paula Hawkins' "Girl on the Train" -- a psychological thriller with a unique narrative from the perspectives of three different women - Rachel-- Megan and Anna - that moved back and forth over the span of about a year to show the interaction of characters prior to the event that connected them but also encompassed one character's fragmented memories as she-- as well as the reader-- strives to solve a mystery.

Book Club members all agreed that initially-- the back and forth movement through time was a bit disconcerting and took some focus and extra energy. After several chapters-- however-- it becomes clear that the format for that was important to helping the reader understand the psychological confusion for one character as well as the feelings of distrust and frustration of others. The book covered many topics that we found fascinating and worthy of some spirited discussion: alcoholism-- adultery-- therapy-- and relationships. We agreed that the writer created a rhythm with the "clickety clack" of the train on the train tracks that helped the reader visualize commuting and the intricate details one would notice on the day to day activity of taking the same route via train or car to work every day. Laureen reminded us that when we read "Boys in the Boat" almost a year ago-- she noted that there was a similar rhythmic pattern from the description of the rowing-- a rhythm that gives the reader a fluidity in understanding what the characters see and endure as part of their daily routine. This led to some spirited conversation as we sought to reflect upon the observations of that book club summary because at the time-- Laureen's insights were not so readily appreciated: many of us found the intricate details of rowing to be a bit monotonous while others found it lender some fluidity to the book in the same manner as the train tracks in this novel.

While most of us were surprised by the ending-- one definitely solved the mystery early in the novel and another had strong suspicions. The rest of us agreed that we were feverishly turning pages to get to the end because we were captivated by the story-- and we engaged in some great conversations about the range of characters in the story. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the absolute best and 5 being the worst-- the book averaged a 2.5.
134The NightengalebyKristen Hannah1On Thursday evening-- Book Club members indulged in seasonal fare of homemade apple crisp and flavored teas-- courtesy of hostess Stephanie O'Neill-- while engaging in a lively discussion of Kristen Hannah's "The Nightengale--" a beautifully crafted novel primarily set in a small village of Carriveau that follows two sisters who become entwined in the French Resistance during WWII. The story is told from a modern day narrator-- one of the sisters-- whose tale documents how one sister-- Vianne-- says goodbye to her husband-- Antoine-- as he heads for the Front while she is forced to take an enemy into her house-- ultimately making decisions that affect the lives of many. Her sister Isabelle-- a rebellious eighteen-year-old who while thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war-- falls in love with the compelling and mysterious Gäetan. Ultimately-- Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance-- never looking back or giving a thought to the thrilling but dangerous consequences. The father of the two sisters is an intriguing character whose involvement in the lives of his daughters offers some surprising twists.

Book Club members all agreed that initially-- the book appeared to be yet another WWII story. However-- the role of women in the war was explored-- so the information was new for many of us and opened a lot of great discussion questions when we convened Thursday evening. Hannah's story spotlights how civilians were impacted by the war-- how families were divided-- how Nazi oppression of Jewish citizens invaded the mentality of the all citizens of the small village-- those who were Jewish and those who were not. Vianne's home was billeted by one German soldier whose kindness and humanity revealed just how difficult it was for people on both sides of this terrible war and then a second who showed the opposite regard for humanity. The novel revealed how German ideas snuck into the village and how unsuspecting villagers became paranoid of their neighbors and friends. In one scene-- for example-- Vianne's Jewish friend Rachel and her young daughter Sarah must wear a yellow star. Vianne's daughter Sophie offers to wear one too:

“These yellow stars--” Rachel said-- opening her fist-- revealing the ugly little flower of ragged fabric-- with its black marking. “We have to wear them on our clothes at all times now.”

Sarah frowned. “But … why?”

“We’re Jews--” Rachel said. “And we’re proud of that. You have to remember how proud we are of it-- even if people—”

“Nazis--” Vianne said more sharply than intended.

“Nazis--” Rachel added-- “want to make us feel … bad about it.”

“Will people make fun of me?” Sarah asked-- her eyes widening.

“I will wear one-- too--” Sophie said.

Sarah looked pathetically hopeful at that.

Rachel reached out for her daughter’s hand and held it. “No-- baby. This is one thing you and your best friend can’t do together.”

Vianne saw Sarah’s fear and embarrassment and confusion. She was trying her best to be a good girl-- to smile and be strong even as tears glazed her eyes. “Oui--” she said at last.

It was the saddest sound Vianne had heard in nearly three years of sorrow.

The ending of the novel was intriguing because we did not know initially which sister was framing the story from a modern day perspective-- which kept us guessing about the outcome of the novel. We were surprised by the ending and found it very well done. We all enjoyed this novel very much. One person rated the book a “2” while the rest of us gave it a “1--” the highest rating.


See you soon and happy reading!

Dawn

133The Storied Life of A.J. FikrybyGabrielle Zevin1.75We welcomed two new book club members: Matilda and Joe Lanzel! Welcome!

We had a wonderfully inspirational meeting on the warm and humid evening of Thursday 9/3 at Lisa's Mansfield home which was comfortably air conditioned. Fresh fruit-- an array of cheeses and crackers-- freshly made coffee cake-- veggies and hummus-- and a selection of teas rounded out the fare enjoyed by all amidst bubbly conversation because this was the first meeting since June. We were all very energized to get back into the book club groove with Gabrielle Zevin's best seller "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry--" a "likable literary love story about selling books and finding love--" according to Kirkus Reviews.

The Book Club members chattered about the book incessantly: characters-- setting-- literary references at the beginning of each chapter-- plot details-- etc. The character transformations were most compelling-- and we often found ourselves poring through the books to find relevant passages to advance our conversations. Dawn described Maya's arrival as a "relationship catalyst" to initiate Fikry's transformation-- and Sandy the Sleuth was unstoppable: why did Fikry pick up the book from pile of discarded books? Sandy found the passage when no one else had the answer. Good job-- Sandy! The book was rich with literary allusions and piqued our interest in short stories referenced at the beginning of each chapter.


We gave the book high ratings. Out of a score of 1-5 with 1 being the best-- the book earned one 2.5-- one 1.5-- one 1.75-- and the rest 2.0's
132Sycamore RowbyJohn Grisham3.5Warm greetings-- Book Club Members!


We had a wonderfully inspirational meeting on the warm and humid evening of Thursday 6/11 at Stephanie O'Neill's lovely home which was comfortably air conditioned. Stephanie made a delicious fresh fruit bowl with strawberries-- blueberries and raspberries from Ward's Farm which she served with fresh whipped cream and an array of tea!

The group discussed John Grisham's "Sycamore Row--" a sequel to "A Time to Kill." Here is a brief overview from the publisher: "John Grisham takes you back to where it all began. One of the most popular novels of our time-- A Time to Kill established John Grisham as the master of the legal thriller. Now we return to Ford County as Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial that exposes a tortured history of racial tension.

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree-- Hubbard leaves a new-- handwritten will. It is an act that drags his adult children-- his black maid-- and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens-- just three years earlier. The second will raises many more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?"

We selected the book a few months ago at the suggestion of one member-- so many members at the meeting admitted to not realizing "Sycamore Row" was a sequel to "A Time to Kill" while others had not read Grisham before. Therefore-- the first part of the conversation was about the original novel and Grisham's decision to write a sequel twenty years later but set only three years after the original action of the first novel. This led to discussions about the film and the topic of the first book. Overall-- we discussed the characters-- the significance of several references making connections to the first novel and whether that was needed or not-- which characters we liked and why. We discussed the significance of the setting as contributing to racism-- and we also discussed the plausibility (and even relevance) of a major scene at the end. Although we did not find Grisham's work to be deeply literary in contrast to several other books we've read-- the novel certainly forced us to consider serious issues. For example-- we pondered the current standings of our wills and how alterations could (or should) be made. We considered how to determine who should be the recipient of our belongings and how and why those decisions might be affected by significant events in our lives. The main character Seth makes a decision about his will-- but rather than get a new one-- he sets a whole chain of events in place that creates a great deal of difficulty for many characters: did he have the right to do that? why didn't he do it the traditional way? should that matter? These were all great questions we considered as a result of reading the novel.

The Book Club Group decided NOT to meet in July and August because the dates conflict with July Fourth week-- Thursday night concerts and vacation plans-- so we decided that we will meet in September. We will plan to meet Thursday-- September 3rd with Gabrielle Zevin's "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." We also suggested something for summer reading that we could discuss if people have read it in September: "The Ups and Downs of Being Dead--" an optional fun read by M.R. Cornelius that Sandy Daniels assured we should all enjoy this summer. We plan to read Harper Lee's new book for October. Additional titles we discussed for summer reading include "Tender Bar" and "Game of Thrones"(Lisa is determined to read)!


e gave "Sycamore Row" a 3.5 overall because we were glad we read it-- glad we could get the paper back cheaply or that it was readily available at the library-- and happy that for some of us-- we had finally read a Grisham novel while others were glad to revisit the characters in "A Time to Kill."

Thank you to Stephanie for hosting this week's meeting and to everyone who has kindly opened her house for our book club meetings! We look forward to reconvening on September 3rd!!
131All The Light We Cannot SeebyAnthony Doerr2Warm greetings! Although only a few book club members made the May meeting-- we had a warm and thoughtful discussion of Pulitzer Prize-winning "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr-- an " imaginative and intricate novel” which is “written in short-- elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology--" according to the Pulitzer Prize judging panel of journalists. Host Sandy Daniels served Red Rose tea-- crackers and cheese-- fresh fruit and a delicious pastry to which we could not say no! Thank you-- Sandy!! The novel follows the story of Marie-- a French girl who goes blind at the age of six and who flees with her father to Saint-Malo when the Germans occupy Paris. Her story becomes entwined with that of German orphan Werner-- a whiz kid with radios who becomes an expert tracker of the Resistance-- and who ends up-- too-- in Saint-Malo. There are some wonderful and interesting characters-- including Marie's father and eccentric uncle-- Werner's sister and foster mother-- and several German characters who influence Werner's life in many ways. Although the novel begins during WWII-- Doerr does make several modern connections with sections about different time periods in the characters' lives. We covered in our discussion the intricate narrative structure-- beautifully crafted short chapters which switched focus of the main characters as well as the time periods; Doerr does this cleverly but clearly-- bringing us to the culminating-- exciting part of the novel where we found ourselves turning pages eagerly to see what happens next. Doerr's characters paint pictures of people on both side of the conflict in Paris during the Nazi occupation-- reminding us how hard it is to be on any side during war when human lives are involved. Even the German characters-- some soldiers-- some not-- surprisingly reveal universal human qualities that evoked some sense of understanding from the reader. Conversation led to locations-- then places we had traveled. One book club member is going to Italy this summer-- so another shared all sorts of pictures and great information about her visits there! We all gave the book a 2 (out of a 1-5 scale rating with 1 being the highest).
130Breakfast at Tiffany'sbyTruman Capote2In addition to the short story-- we also read a play this month because one of our book club members will be an assistant producer for a live version of the play at the end of this month in Canton! "The Dixie Swim Club--" a short play-- follows five Southern women whose friendship-- spawned while all were members of the college swim team-- spans 53 years of annual visits in August to a cottage on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The play focuses on four of these meetings over 33 of the years and introduces readers/viewers to five fantastic and spunky characters: Sheree-- Dinah-- Lexie-- Vernadette-- and Jeri Neal. We thoroughly enjoyed submerging ourselves in the lives of these women and exploring their relationships with each other-- with their significant others-- and with their children. It was fun to identify characteristics of the women in ourselves and in people around us-- but mostly-- we loved their interactions and support of one another-- despite unpredictable events. We gave this book a 2 out of 5 (1 being the highest)-- and we hope to see the play at the end of the month! Anyone interested in joining us for the play? Check out The Milton Players!
129Dixie Swim Club
byby Jessie Jones-- Nicholas Hope-- and Jamie Wooten2The Jaycees Book Club met on Thursday evening at the House of Laureen where book guests were treated to hot tea-- an array of crackers and cheese-- fresh strawberries-- veggies and hummus-- and the warm environment that spurred two hours of lively and enthusiastic discourse about Truman Capote's classic novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and American Southern play "The Dixie Swim Club" by Jessie Jones-- Nicholas Hope-- and Jamie Wooten.

Capote's classic text-- set in 1943-1944 in Manhattan's Upper East Side-- introduces us to an astutely observant unnamed narrator/writer whose fascination of neighbor Holly Golightly underscores his positive depiction of a woman with ambiguous morals-- a complex background-- and a unique ability to capture the attention of men of all ages. The book group drew many parallels to F. Scott Fitzgerald's female characters-- and while critical of some of Holly's behavior-- attitudes and language-- which was uncharacteristic of women in the 1040's-- we also found ourselves sympathetic and intrigued. We thoroughly enjoyed the way Capote depicts his characters and loved his style-- and while the story is only 80 pages-- we found ourselves unpacking more and more details that we simply loved! Our conversations also led us to discuss other Capote stories we have read as well as the film version of "Breakfast at Tiffany's--" which several of us had never seen. We gave this book a high rating!
128The Red TentbyAnita Diamont1On Thursday-- March 5th-- Book Club members congregated around a table of great snacks and hot beverages amidst a wood stove warmed room to discuss a range of topics surrounding Anita Diamant's amazing novel "The Red Tent--" Diamant's skillfully interwoven "biblical tale with events and characters of her own invention" (Library Journal). In her amazing first novel-- Diamant "re-creates the life of Dinah-- daughter of Leah and Jacob-- from her birth and happy childhood in Mesopotamia through her years in Canaan and death in Egypt." Although the novel was written ten years ago-- Book Club members chose to read the book because a television miniseries has been produced and will be available on dvd this month. We started the meeting by watching a short video clip trailer of the movie and considered how the actresses portraying the main characters reflected the image we had of those characters from reading the book. Book Club members enjoyed Dinah's first person depiction of her life and especially liked the way the story was structured in three parts. Sandy shared some information she had found from an interview with the author in which Diamant shared her inspiration for the story as well as interesting aspects of her life. To satisfy our interest in the biblical depiction of Dinah's story-- Lisa pulled a bible off the shelf and read Genesis 34 to the group. Hearing the short tale with so few details made it even more impressive that Diamant created such an intricately woven story rich with characters and action. Patricia shared some fresh titles and summaries for future book title consideration-- and The Red Tent received the highest rating of 1 from all members.
127Boys on the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsbyDaniel James Brown
126Orange Is the New BlackbyPiper Kerman
125The Kitchen HousebyKathleen Gissom1.5The Book Club met at the Houses' house (hehe) on Thursday evening-- November 6th to discuss Kathleen Grissom's riveting debut novel "The Kitchen House--" which won several awards. We enjoyed delicious molasses cake baked by Patricia (the recipe is in the novel!!)-- tea-- hummus and crackers.

The novel is set in post-Civil War Virginia. The following summary is from the author's website: "In 1790-- Lavinia-- a seven-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past-- arrives on a tobacco plantation where she is put to work as an indentured servant with the kitchen house slaves. Though she becomes deeply bonded to her new family-- Lavinia is also slowly accepted into the world of the big house-- where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. As time passes she finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds and when loyalties are brought into question-- dangerous truths are laid bare and lives are at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense-- exploring the meaning of family-- where love and loyalty prevail."

The members of the book club enjoyed the book immensely (the rating for the book is a 1.5) and discussed a range of topics related to the book. One of the best parts-- they asserted-- was that the story was told from two different perspectives-- one from the point of view of Lavinia and the other from Belle-- the slave who becomes a mother figure. Their stories provide opposing views of shared experiences-- both tragic and inspiring-- Discussions revolved around slavery-- politics-- optimism and faith-- food-- and humanity. The novel covered some of the same issues found in Toni Morrison's "Beloved--" especially about the challenge for male slaves who struggled to protect their families.

Patricia made the molasses cake based on the recipe found at the end of the the novel where there are also some interview questions with the author-- so the conversation also revolved around Grissom's background information. We learned that Grissom purchased a plantation home in Virginia-- and that became the inspiration for the story. She is currently working on another novel.
124Orphan trainbyChristina Baker-Kleine1Thanks goes out to Lisa for not only hosting-- but for providing the following write up of the meeting:

Warm Greetings!

Book Club members had a lively discussion about "The Orphan Train" this past Thursday evening while enjoying a delicious array of cheese-- fruit and crackers-- Teavana peach flavored tea-- veggies and dip-- and freshly baked pumpkin pie squares!

Participants enjoyed Christina Baker Kline's narrative style-- which blended two delicious stories of young women displaced: one is a current day foster girl about to "age out " and one is an Irish immigrant who in the late 1920's found herself alone in NY after a tragedy which sent her to the Midwest on an "orphan train." At the end of the novel-- there are some questions and answers-- so after discussing the characters-- the plot-- and the narrative style-- we found ourselves discussing incidents in history that left children in such situations. It was a great discussion-- and we all rated the book the highest rating: 1.

123Fault in Our StarsbyJohn Green2
122And the Mountains EchoedbyKhaled Hosseini2On Thursday-- August 7th-- the Jaycee Book Club was treated to tantalizing Teavana teas (both hot and cold!)-- tasty treats-- and thought provoking conversation about Khaled Hosseini's "And the Mountains Echoed" at host Pam Warren's abode in Franklin! The modern day story follows the struggles of three generations of an Afghan family and extended relations/friends who endure economic-- political and physical hardship-- and the reader journeys with the characters to Kabul-- Paris-- Greece-- and America. Our conversations revolved around the clever narrative style in which Hosseini weaves stories using varied styles-- including letters. Additionally-- the many tales and characters inspired conversations about medicine-- hope-- aging-- love-- materialism-- duty-- sacrifice-- and so much more! The group enjoyed the novel immensely and awarded high marks on the rating scale: all "2".
121The Gold FinchbyDonna Tartt2Warm greetings! The Jaycees Book Club enjoyed an upbeat and enthusiastic discussion of Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch--" currently still a NYT bestseller! Hostess Dawn Hadley served delicious fruit salad and a variety of teas and soft drinks. Thank you-- Dawn! The Book Club enjoyed the novel and gave it a "Very Good" rating of 2 on a 5 point scale with 1 being the highest. "The Goldfinch" follows narrator Theo Decker as he experiences loss and hardship-- beginning in New York at the age of 13 and continuing for about 15 years as he encounters vivid and exciting obstacles-- characters and places. In addition to parsing parts of the book we enjoyed-- simply wanted to discuss-- or which needed some clarification-- we talked about a range of topics related to the book: art-- which actors might play some of the characters-- places mentioned in the book-- similar books-- and so many other topics!
120House RulesbyJodi Picoult3
119The InterestingsbyMeg Wolitzer
118The Language of Flowersby1We had a wonderful meeting regarding The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Thanks goes out to Lisa for being a wonderful host-- flower theme and all. Lisa also had a collection of books for us to peruse and borrow should we like. Thanks for that offer-- Lisa. The discussion bloomed on it's own accord. We had no trouble discussing the many aspects of the book. We seemed to like the voice of the female narrator as she guided us back and forth-- in a smooth rhythm-- between the present and the past. A past none of had personally experienced-- but could well understand and sympathize with due to the details from the author. We discussed how real to life the characters were-- from Victoria to Mother Ruby. How interesting and perfectly crafted were the conversations of flowers between our two lovers. The author weaved the story of human characteristics and the unspoken language of the flowers beautifully through out the book. We would recommend this book from the young adult to experienced reader. We rated the book a solid 1.
117InfernobyDan BrownSandy and Guy were excellent hosts! Not only did they have snacks for us-- but it was done with Italian flare-- dishes straight from Italy. They had for our viewing pleasure-- pictures from their Italy vacation. Guy was nice enough to put together a show of pictures of the places and sightings that were mentioned in the book. Thank you Sandy and Guy for the wonderful evening. We had a very nice discussion!
116I am MalalabyMalala Yousafzai2
115Life After LifebyKate Atkinson2
114Light in the RuinsbyChris Bohjalian2
113Defending JacobbyWilliam Landay
112The RoombyEmma Donoghue1.5We all enjoyed the book.
111Man in the WoodsbyScott Spencer4 Unfortunately this book will not make our top ten list-- we rated it a 4. But it is now discussed and we can move on to another read.
110The Hunger GamesbySuzanne Collins1.75We did talk about how The Hunger Games reminded us modern day reality shows like Survivor. We also talked about how having the skills to survive are not always as important as being able to create a story that people will want to watch. We compared that concept to reality shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars---contestants are not only skilled in their craft but also popular with their viewers. We also talked about how the greed and abundance of food-- and costumes and the production of the Hunger Games reflected our current popular culture.
109The takingbyJames David Landis???
108Cutting for StonebyAbraham Verghese2.5A little slow during the middle but great last section - I wasn't sure if I liked this until the end.
107Count of Monte CristobyAlexadre Dumas3.5Good basic story but a little long in the middle Good basic story but a little long in the middle Good basic story but a little long in the middle Good basic story but a little long in the middle
106Look AgainbyLisa Scottaline2.7We discussed the book Look Again by Lisa Scottoline. Monica actually had the pleasure of meeting the author in person not long ago. The subject for the book was definitely new and intriguing. What would you do if your child's face was on a flyer for missing children? Parts of the book we felt went a little too far into the "far fetched" category-- such as the collection of the DNA. But we all thought it was well written and moved at a quick pace. Overall we rated the book at 2.7
105Drinking Closer to HomebyJessica Anya Blau3.5
104The SparrowbyMary Doria Russell1.33
103The Forgotten GardenbyKate Morten2.375We all agreed that the timing of Hugh telling Nell about the family secret certainly was not appropriate. The night was for a celebration-- not for divulging secrets kept for almost 20 years. Nell's reaction was a strong one-- maybe a little too strong-- as it changed the course of her life. Hugh and Lil-- made the decision to keep Nell-- at first for admirable reasons-- then circumstances changed-- turning their decision into a selfish one. Eliza was discussed-- from her writings of Children stories to her love affair. Speaking of love affairs-- we did touch on the different love stories weaved through out the novel.
102Her Fearful SymmetrybyAudrey Niffenegger2.5
101Sarah's KeybyTatiana de Rosnay2.66The last meeting was very small-- thanks for KB and Monica for holding down the fort. Monica thanks for hosting this very small meeting. The book-- Sarah's Key-- was rated a 2.66. Thanks to those who could not attend but sent in their rating.
100The Last Leaf: Voices of History's Last-Known SurvivorsbyStuart Lutz2.75It seemed as though all were in agreement that they were glad that they read the book-- The Last Leaf. The nature of the book was so very different than what we have read. Some agreed that they liked the Technical parts the least of all-- and most agreed that they liked how the book started with the Confederates. One person mentioned that they could see themselves picking this book up again reading it. Some members even Googled the events to learn a little bit more. There were those that were interested to know if there were people that didn't want to be interviewed. There was good discussion on what would the events in history be that the author would select of events of our lifetime-- last survivor of the 9/11 Towers or maybe the last person associated with the Challenger. We rated the book a 2.75.
99"The Wave"byTodd Strasser3.5We discussed briefly The Wave and decided it was great for the audience for which it was written-- that Tween group. Although it was written for them we still found it to be interesting. Based on an actual event the High School experiment was contagious and soon turn toward the tendency for violence.
98The HelpbyKathryn Stockett1.5We also had a great discussion on The Help. Everything ranging from the roles of the Mothers in the book to the just desserts given to Holly. This was a look into a life that none of us actually had to live through. We hoped that we would have had Skeeter's point of view on things. We discussed how Mae Mobley would grow up-- now that she didn't have her Abeline there to guide her. We agreed that the courage of the Help was incredible-- to write their stories and let them be published. Essentially showing the strong character that these women had to posses. Of course the topic of Racism came up-- how we see it in our lives today-- here in the Northeast as to compare to other areas of the country.
97Specimen DaysbyMichael CunnighamWe had a good evening last night at the home of Nancy Williams. Thank you for hosting Nancy. In her usual tradition she tried to have snacks related to the story-- happily missing from the menu was the goat head soup and boiled cabbage. Although-- being Irish-- I do like the boiled cabbage. Walt Whitman was what tied the three sections of the novel Specimen Days together. Albeit sometimes irritating-- then other times puzzling to the characters as well as the readers-- Michael Cunningham put to good use the poet's prose. Overall we found the section endings to be pessimistic and incomplete. There seemed to be too many unanswered questions. Cunningham weaves the characters from one section to another-- along with locations within New York City and of course the porcelain bowl. It was said that this book is one of the reasons that members were glad to be part of the book club-- they were reading selections that they normally wouldn't.
96The Girl with the Dragon TattoobySteig Larsson1WOW! That is one word I have for this book-- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This book has it all-- mystery-- love-- sex-- intrigue-- international business-- dysfunctional families-- family values-- secrets-- valuable friendships-- murder-- rape-- incest..... too many to go on. Yes-- we did cover just about all of it too in our discussions. Like how the Vangers put the fun in dysfunctional. How Martin was sick-- very sick. Was Mikael right to not publish the story? What about our leading lady-- Lisbeth Salander? Just as she starts to feel as if she is fitting into society-- life throws her another punch! (BTW Beverley we missed you) I can't wait to read the second story-- The Girl Who Played with Fire. Although I am sure it will come up in discussion somewhere down the line we will not be reading it as a Book Club selection. We have decided to stay with our guidelines and not to read more than one book from the same Author.
95The Leisure Seekerbyby Michael Zadoorian2.1We discussed quite a bit-- things along the line of art imitating life-- the responsibilities to your spouse as you age-- relationships between aging parents and children-- to name a few. We found the book to be a nice change from things we would normally read. It gave us all a different perspective of getting older.
94An Unquiet MindbyKay Redfield Jamison4Sandy graciously hosted this meeting. Thanks again Sandy for taking it over at the last minute! She-- not to be outdone by Nancy and Joe-- dressed and played the part of a Therapist and each person got their own therapy session. Kidding-- I have no idea what she was wearing I wasn't there. The book-- "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison-- is a memoir delving into the experiences of a woman with maniac depression. The discussion on this did flow very well-- was bountiful-- and it was described as a "Therapy Session". The book was rated as a 4.
93Cleopatra's DaughterbyMichele Moran2.5What a great meeting we had. Special thanks go out to our hosts Nancy and Joe. I say special thanks because they went above and beyond the usual efforts for hosting a meeting. They had posted proclamations-- created a menu from the book-- and even dressed in togas. At one point Nancy was feeding grapes to Joe. 🙂 We have way too much fun at book club! Of course we discussed the book-- and discussion went very well. Although Joe really wanted to explore the avenue of what could have happened if there was further revolt against Octavian/Augustus. We rated the book a 2.5.
92HomecomingbyBernard Schlinik4This was another book which brought out one of the great aspects of reading with a book club; while each of us found the book a rather slow and sometimes frustrating read-- it still inspired a lengthy-- lively-- and interesting discussion. We talked about the nature and mutability of personal identity; about communication and secrets within families; about the differences in social norms and expectations across ethnic cultures and during peacetime versus war; and about hot rocks. After all of this-- we rated the book a solid 4; we didn’t love it-- didn’t hate it-- but were satisfied to have read it after borrowing it from the library or purchasing it used. Several folks noted that Schlink’s ‘The Reader’ was an easier read and a good movie which explored several of the same major themes.
91The Shadow of the WindbyCarlos Ruiz Zafon1.25The book was definitely a favorite of the club-- The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was rated a 1.25 by the group. Sometimes I think that the prepared questions can stifle the free flowing conversations that we had. Conversation was a little choppy-- but still interesting. The twists and turns-- how one person was intertwined into another kept you reading and wanting more. We all shared a laugh from the promise of the prostitute to the elderly man.....funny how that came about in the end.
90A Christmas PromisebyAnne Perry3.625
89The Picture of Dorian Gray ratingbyOscar Wilde2.3
88The River WifebyJonis Agee
87The Accountbyby Alex Mueck
86Three JunesbyJulia Glass3.5We had a great conversation about what to do with our own remains when the time comes. LOL Three Junes has a way of making you look at your own life. Each one of us rated the book a 3.5. Sandy's snacks were awesome including a delicious 1--2--3--4 cake and also chips with home made salsa
85Fight ClubbyChuck Palahniuk4.5
84The Killer's WifebyBill Floyd1.75Our last meeting was intimate and filled with good discussion. I think we are finally getting the hang of things-- we had some insightful discussion even without a list of questions. We all agreed that we enjoyed the premise of the book-- the life of the wife and family of the killer. How it impacts them and how they deal with that impact. What about the victims? Although this is explored in other writings-- the author still included this aspect-- but with a twist that is completely unexpected. For those of you that haven't had the chance yet to read this book-- keep it on your list of books to read.
83The ShackbyWilliam P Young2.57The ride was long and winding from Mansfield to Nancy's house. The last turn had the sign for "The Shack" letting us know we were on the right road. As we approached the Shack-- we noticed that the winter seemed to have vanished from surrounding area. There were flowers growing-- as if it were a beautiful spring evening. A warm glow emanated from the windows-- welcoming us in. We entered to be greeted by our hosts-- Nancy and Joe. Our senses were assaulted by the delicious aroma of fresh baked bread and pies. We were warmly greeted and given refreshments to replenish from our journey and settle into the long conversation ahead of us. There were "greens" for dipping-- brownies and ice cream-- religious hero decks of cards-- lady bugs and religious candles. This was the right place for us all-- the right place for the good discussion. See what you all missed out on?! Now I am not going to delve into the discussion-- let's just say it was full of questions-- comments-- learning about each other and some new input.
82The Story of Edgar SawtellebyDavid Wroblewski
81The Great GatsbybyF. Scott Fitzgerald
80Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff-- Christ's Childhood PalbyChristopher Moore.1.583We wrapped up our year with our last meeting on December 17th at KB's humble abode. She was a wonderful host-- cider-- tea-- fish and loaves. It took some of us a while to make the connection to the book that we were discussing; Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff. Christ's Childhood Pal-- by Christopher Moore. Those of us that read the book seemed to really enjoy the wit and satire of Christopher Moore. I started the discussion by reading a few of my favorite lines from the book. Others joined in with theirs.
79Secret HistorybyDonna Tartt.3.5
78Thirteenth TalebyDiane Setterfield.2
776th LamentationbyWilliam Brodrick2Sandy-- Guy and KB all enjoyed the book. KB and Sandy enjoyed the twists and turns the book took and the history and issues it presented (Holocaust). The story kept your attention and the characters were compelling.
76Three Cups Of TeabyGreg Mortenson-- David Oliver Relin2.28
75The Golden CompassbyPhillip Pullman2.25
74The Last LecturebyRandy Pausch2Not terribly new ideas-- but maybe a different format from which we are accustomed. The title is a little misleading-- as he isn't lecturing us-- he is sharing with us his ideas-- trials-- failures-- successes-- life and family. Randy has opened more than his heart to us-- he has allowed us to see life in a different way-- not to mention the preparation for death. This book is one example of how he is taking advantage of the gift of life-- the gift of time-- before he leaves this world. I think that he says it best ""Whatever news we get about the sancs-- I'm not going to die when we hear it. I won't die the next day-- or the day after that-- or the day after that. So today-- right now-- well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I am enjoying it." I thought about that-- and about Jai's smile. I knew then. That's the way the rest of my life would need to be lived."
73Last Town On EarthbyThomas Mullen2.083One of the first questions asked for the Last Town on Earth generated a quote that went something like this: "the gauze mask was full of holes-- much like the plans they had were full of holes". Very profound. And rightly so-- a quick response came to it. "Are you kidding-- or are you really serious. How do you come up with things like that. I couldn't have ever come up with something symbolic like that" Let the discussion start. We had a very good discussion-- that covered a range of topics. One interesting enough was-- which character are you most like-- " I'm Flora - organized- run the general store - flirt with the men- dead in the end."
72The NamesakebyBy Jhumpa Lahiri2.357
71The Princess Of BurundibyKjell Eriksson4Many are questioning why this was the winner of the Swedish Crime Academy Award for Best Crime Novel. This is how our meeting started out on the 19th. Apparently-- the Swedish don't understand real crime-- have had various nationalities of Mobs-- sick-- ahum-- creative minds that produce edge of your seat crime novels and of course the opportunities to donate time to the general public-- which in turn drives one to create in one's mind the perfect crimes to do away with what is bothering you.
70Dark TidebyStephen Puleo2.5We had a great meeting last week-- thank you Kathy for hosting. The molasses cookies and shoo fly pie were great! Only outdone by the Lunar Eclipse. One of my favorite parts of the discussion was what surprised us the most or the most interesting thing that we learned. "molasses was moving at 35 miles an hour" "family members were literally pulled out of the drowning molasses" "He saved her because he saw her hand sticking out above the molasses as he was floating by" "The threat of foreign terrorism in 1915" "Italians were the most lynched ethnic group other than Blacks in American history" "the prejudice against the Italians" "they could actually get away with building a holding tank in that location" We had some fun talking about if something like that were to exist today. Do you think the kids would be collecting the molasses? The paint inside the tank probably had lead in it. The rodent/pest population due to the leakage. If they can build a bio-chemical laboratory in Boston-- why wouldn't they be able to build a molasses holding tank?
69Eat-- Pray-- LovebyElizabeth Gilbert3.21Two of the biggest questions that came up-- was-- "Have you attained personal financial success?" And "Have you attained personal religious success?". You can imagine that the conversations included much about-- how does one measure success-- how does society measure success-- what is success. We also explored the possibility of how the journey of self discovery could have been different had the main character been male vs. female. If memory serves me right-- we even discussed if she was a little bit crazy. I think that we figured out that the answer was no more than the rest of us. 🙂
68The Christmas TrainbyDavid Baldacci3.6All agreed that it was a nice quick read-- left you feeling good and considered to be the winter equivalent to a beach book.
67Water For ElephantsbySara Gruen2.08
66RetributionbyJilliane Hoffman1.4Some of us had to "shut the door to my office" to make sure we got to finish the book. We didn't want to be interrupted. This was a book that grabbed you from the beginning and was structured a bit like "Law and Order". We all agreed that we "felt someone was intruding on my book" when the killer's voice becomes the narrator. There is a sequel to the book that many were interested in reading-- "Last Witness". The rating that we gave to the book was a 1.4.
65Bel CantobyAnn Patchett2.75
64LabyrinthbyKate Mosse2.9
63Wild PitchbyMike Lupica3
62Cold Sassy TreebyOlive Ann Burns1.8"The recommendation to read it was good-- almost redeeming Jen for her recommendation of "4 Blondes." But-- nothing can make up for recommending "4 Blondes" ... "Reading this book left me wanting to know more. What happens next in Will's life? Does he get Lightfoot after all? Does he work in the store or strike out on his own? Luckily there is a sequel-- "Leaving Cold Sassy." I can't wait to start reading that."
61Lord Of The FliesbyWilliam Golding2.5
60The Catcher In The RyebyJ.D. Salinger5
59Shutter IslandbyDennis Lehane2We all agreed we liked the twists that the story took-- the writing style-- the foreshadowing (how do you get so much in?) and the ending
58The Emperor's ChildrenbyClaire Messud4
57The Memory Keeper's DaughterbyKim Edwards3
56Christmas BoxbyRichard Paul Evans3.4
55Christmas JarsbyJason Wright2.5They both are easy read Christmas stories that can warm the heart-- or be considered "Christmas fluff" that is an easy read. We all seemed to agree that we have heard the message that both these books tell many times in our lives. We should count ourblessings that we know how to not only receive the message but also be able tobe the messenger.
54Poisonwood BiblebyBy Barbara Kingsolver2I would have to agree with the rating. This was my second time reading the book and still enjoyed it thoroughly. I have to admit it was a little hard to get going but I think that the events and thoughts that are provoked as the story moves on is well worth it.
53House Of Sand And FogbyAndre Dubus III3.75We had some great discussion and new insights-- even though this wasn't one of the favorites of the club. Joshi-- thanks for recommending this book - too bad you weren't there to discuss-- get reading 🙂
52FlyboysbyJames Bradley1.5One of the members is quoted as saying from reading this book they came away with a "profound increase of knowledge". We even had a book club member send in her thoughts on the book and rating-- even though she was unable to attend the meeting. I for one am glad that we read this book. It is something that I probably would never have chosen myself-- yet I thoroughly enjoyed it!
51FreakanomicsbySteven D. Levitt And Stephen J. Dubner3.5Again-- not among the favorites of the club but the conversations and discussions were definitely interesting. Jen thanks for recommending this one. I probably would never have tried reading it-- glad that I did.
50Memoirs Of A GeishabyArthur Golden
49The Piano TunerbyDaniel Mason3.5
48Kite RunnerbyKhaled Hosseini2
47Lying AwakebyMark Salzman3
46Farenheit 451byRay Bradbury4
45My Sister's KeeperbyJodi Picoult1
44Light On SnowbyAnita Shreve3
43The Lion-- The Witch And The WardrobebyC.S. Lewis2.5
42The Tender BarbyJ.R. Moehringer (Which We Also Forgot To Rate)3
41Absolute PowerbyDavid Baldacci3.5
40Uncle Tom's CabinbyHarriet Beecher Stowe2
39Maximum BobbyElmore Leonard4.07
38Marley & Me: Life And Love With The World's Worst DogbyJohn Grogan3
37Nana: My Grandmother-- Anne GillisbyRobert Gillis3Tom: When reading about Nana's death... I had a real hard time... You captured the moment and put us all in your shoes where I was truly hurting for you. It brought back a flood of memories of my mother and grandmother and my being there at the end... The honesty of what your grandmother was really like. Not the apple pie and cheek squeezing type-- but the hard working-- Scarlet Letter wearing and straight shooting matriarch. That was refreshing (although depressing at times.) I think most people would have glossed over the faults... Laureen: I just want you to know that I cried on the way to work today. I cried from just outside of Sharon-- into Boston. You are a wonderful grandson!!!! You have done her a great service during her life and beyond.
36And Then There Were NonebyAgatha Christie4
35How I Became StupidbyMartin Page2
34The Secret Life Of BeesbySue Monk Kidd2.5
33To Kill A MockingbirdbyHarper Lee2
32Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxybyDouglas Adams2 or 5Group pretty much split down the line by Gender on this-- Men loved it-- Women not so much (except one female that went to the other side - traitor)
31Ball FourbyJim Bouton4
30Memory Of RunningbyRon Mclarty3
29The Good EarthbyPearl Buck2
28The Five People You Meet In HeavenbyMitch Albom2
27Four BlondesbyCandace Bushnell6Kind of pissed that I wasted part of my life reading it
26Gideon's GiftbyKaren Kingsbury2Cute-- fluffy read
25The Rule Of FourbyIan Caldwell + Dustin Thomason4
24StiffbyMary Roach2
23A Tree Grows In BrooklynbyBetty Smith3
22The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night TimebyMark Haddon2
21Devil In The White CitybyErik Larson2Historical information was even more interesting than the serial killer
20MiddlesexbyJeffrey Eugenides3
19Silas MarnerbyGeorge Eliot3
18BlindnessbyJose Saramago2
17The Fourth HandbyJohn Irving4Not the same level as Cider House Rules or Owen Meaning.
16WickedbyGregory Maguire3
15Yokota Officers ClubbySarah Bird4
14A Time To KillbyJohn Grisham1.5
13Post MortembyPatricia Cornwell2.5
12Snow Falling On CedarsbyDavid Guterson2.5
11Cold MountainbyCharles Frazier3
10Life Of PibyYann Martel2
9The Da Vinci CodebyDan Brown2
8Drowning RuthbyChristina Schwarz3.5
7Gone For GoodbyHarlan Coben2
6The Lovely BonesbyAlice Sebold1.6
5Pride And PrejudicebyJane Austen3
4IntensitybyDean Koontz2
3A Confederacy Of DuncesbyJohn Kennedy Toole2 or 5Group either loved or hated it
2A Bend In The RoadbyNicholas Sparks3
11st To DiebyJames Patterson3Great mystery writer. "This was my first mystery and it made me want to read more of them"
152The Girl in Cabin 10byRuth Ware2On Thursday, November 2, 2017, Book Club members enjoyed apple cake, pumpkin spice bread, wine, tea, and crunchy treats courtesy of Kathy B. at Lisa's house to discuss the Ruth Ware's psychological thriller "The Girl in Cabin 10." From the publisher, "When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream career opportunity. But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard – only to discover that no-one has been reported missing from the boat. How do you stop a killer, when no-one believes they exist?"

Book Club members engaged in a wide range of topics related to the story. Some parts of the ending were predictable, we agreed, but we did note that one part of the story, such as whose body was thrown overboard, was surprising in an Agatha Christie - like manner. We also enjoyed discussing how the narrator unfolded the story to us and debated how she compared to the narrator in "The Girl on the Train." Ware's narrator Laura ("Lo") in "Cabin 10" is a journalist, so her prying manner made sense, but her reliability becomes questionable with all the drinking and medication. However, we also became annoyed with the other characters who dismissed her because of her drinking and medication, needed for anxiety, which was heightened by a burglar at the beginning of the story before she embarks on the cruise and the tight quarters on the ship that made us all feel quite claustophobic. We agreed that we all hated the mud bath/wrap because Ware created all the paranoia so well and that we could feel Lo's anxiety in that tight cabin below deck while she was wrapped and semi-conscious. We could relate to Lo's frustration with some of the other journalists because she does appear desperate to be noticed in the travel journalist world and therefore put up with dismissive behavior by others, especially one woman in particular and some of the men. It was due to Ware's character development and writing style that we could connect to Lo's struggle and agreed that the novel was a page turner, especially for many of us who do not often reach for mysteries. Additionally, the conversation turned to experiences with cruises and travel and other stories about them, which was a lot of fun.

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 mostly 2's, a 2.5, and a 1.5. It was definitely an enjoyable book that generated some really great conversation.

We also rated books from our summer reading which we did not rate last month because only a few people had read each, but we decided to rate them to encourage more people to read (or not!): "Gentleman in Moscow" received rave reviews of multiple 1's and one 2 from those who had read it, including comments that it was a commitment to read because of its length and depth but that we did not want it to end; "News of the World" received all 2's and agreement that it was a quick, enjoyable read with a satisfying ending; "Ruby" earned 1 and 1.5 as magical realism and a cross between "Beloved" and 'House of Spirits"; and "Belgravia" earned 2.5's as light and enjoyable, like reading "Downton Abbey" but without actually hearing the delicious British accents and seeing the gorgeous setting and beautiful characters, clothing and food.

We will be reading "Fall of Marigolds" for December at Sandy Daniels' home in Foxboro and "Small Great Things" by Jodi Piccoult for January at Monica's home in Norton!
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