Tuesday, January 10, 2017

THE WONDER, BY EMMA DONOGHUE

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: 

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13th, 2017, AT 2:00 P.M.

A village in 1850s Ireland is mystified by what appears to be a miracle--a little girl seems to be thriving after months without food. An English nurse and an international journalist try to get to the root of why the child may actually be the victim of murder in this psychological thriller. (NovelistPlus)

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/* Starred Review */ An English nurse confronts Irish history and entrenched prejudices—some of them hers—in this stinging latest from Donoghue  (Frog Music, 2014, etc.).Lib Wright has survived the Crimean War and a failed marriage by the time she's summoned to central Ireland to watch over 11-year-old Anna O'Donnell, whose parents claim she has eaten no food in four months. The girl's physician, Dr. McBrearty, and a committee of local bigwigs have hired Lib and a nun to provide round-the-clock surveillance. Lib quickly realizes that Dr. McBrearty, at least, is weirdly anxious to prove the girl's fast is no hoax, even if he deplores loose talk of a miracle. An advocate of the scientific nursing principles preached by Florence Nightingale, Lib has nothing but contempt for such an absurd idea. Yet she is charmed by Anna, as whip-smart as she is pious, and alarmed when the girl's surprisingly robust health begins to falter shortly after the nurses' watch begins. Clearly someone has been feeding Anna until now, but it's also clear she believes she has eaten nothing. Lib's solution of this riddle says nothing good about provincial Irish society in the mid-19th century, seen through her eyes as sexist, abusive, and riddled with ridiculous superstitions. Irish Times correspondent William Byrne counters with a scathing analysis of the recent potato famine, angrily instructing this blinkered Englishwoman in her nation's culpability for mass starvation as well as the centuries of repression that have made the Irish a defensive, backward people. Nonetheless, nothing can excuse the wall of denial Lib slams into as she desperately tries to get Anna's parents and the committee even to acknowledge how sick the child is. The story's resolution seems like pure wish fulfillment, but vivid, tender scenes between Lib and Anna, coupled with the pleasing romance that springs up between feisty Lib and the appreciative Byrne, will incline most readers to grant Donoghue  her tentative happy ending. Her contemporary thriller Room (2010) made the author an international bestseller, but this gripping tale offers a welcome reminder that her historical fiction is equally fine.(Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2016)

 

 

Monday, December 5, 2016

VINEGAR GIRL, BY ANNE TYLER

Vinegar Girl: the Taming of the Shrew Retold, by Anne Tyler

Book discussion date and time: Monday, January 9, 2017, at 2:00 P.M. 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thirteen Ways of Looking, by Colum McCann

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME:
 MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2016, AT 1:00 P.M. 




Four unforgettable stories by the author of Let the Great World Spin, and winner of The National Book Award.  In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life’s work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In “Sh’khol,” a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In “Treaty,” an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year’s Eve.  
 

Monday, September 26, 2016

THE INVENTION OF WINGS, BY SUE MONK KIDD

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2016, AT 2:00 P.M.

Sarah Grimké was an actual early abolitionist and feminist whose upbringing in a slaveholding Southern family made her voice particularly controversial. Kidd re-imagines Sarah's life in tandem with that of a slave in the Grimké household. In 1803, 11-year-old Sarah receives a slave as her birthday present from her wealthy Charleston parents. Called Hetty by the whites, Handful is just what her name implies--sharp tongued and spirited. Precocious Sarah is horrified at the idea of owning a slave but is given no choice by her mother, a conventional Southern woman of her time who is not evil but accepts slavery (and the dehumanizing cruelties that go along with it) as a God-given right.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE ODD WOMAN AND THE CITY, BY VIVIAN GORNICK

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME:
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 AT 2:00 P.M.

"A contentious, deeply moving ode to friendship, love, and urban life in the spirit of Fierce Attachments A memoir of self-discovery and the dilemma of connection in our time, The Odd Woman and the City explores the rhythms, chance encounters, and ever-changing friendships of urban life that forge the sensibility of a fiercely independent woman who has lived out her conflicts, not her fantasies, in a city (New York) that has done the same. Running steadily through the book is Vivian Gornick's exchange of more than twenty years with Leonard, a gay man who is sophisticated about his own unhappiness, whose friendship has "shed more light on the mysterious nature of ordinary human relations than has any other intimacy" she has known. The exchange between Gornick and Leonard acts as a Greek chorus to the main action of the narrator's continual engagement on the street with grocers, derelicts, and doormen; people on the bus, cross-dressers on the corner, and acquaintances by the handful. In Leonard she sees herself reflected plain; out on the street she makes sense of what she sees. Written as a narrative collage that includes meditative pieces on the making of a modern feminist, the role of the flaneur in urban literature, and the evolution of friendship over the past two centuries, The Odd Woman and the City beautifully bookends Gornick's acclaimed Fierce Attachments, in which we first encountered her rich relationship with the ultimate metropolis"-- Provided by publisher.  

 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

AS CLOSE TO US AS BREATHING, BY ELIZABETH POLINER

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: 
TUESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2016, AT 11:00 A.M.
In 1948, a small stretch of the Woodmont, Connecticut shoreline, affectionately named “Bagel
Beach,” has long been the summer destination for Jewish families. Here, sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec assemble at their beloved family cottage, with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. During the week, freedom reigns. But when a terrible accident occurs on the sisters’ watch , a summer of hope and self-discovery transforms into a lifetime of atonement and loss.