May 31, 2015

May 2015

Many thanks to poet Dave Lucas for spending time with us!  Very appreciative to be able to share Weather with him both in the literary sense and meteorological.  Thunderstorms rolled in from the lake while we listened to poetry.

Here's what else we discussed:

The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan
The Greek Myths - Robin Waterfield
7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
On Leadship - John Gardner
Drunk Tank Pink - Adam Alter
Fault in Our Stars - John Green
An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
Paper Towns - John Green
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins  (boo!)
Books by Kent Haruf: Benediction, Plainsong, Eventide
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
War and Peace - Tolstoy
Ten Thousand Saints - Eleanor Henderson
The New Testament - Jericho Brown
Weather (VQR Poetry Series) - Dave Lucas

From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch
Thursday, May 8, 2015
The next meeting will be: June 11, 2015


Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Book Shop
King, Stephen. Mr. Mercedes; The Stand
Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Oller, John. American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague …
Rappaport, Helen. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra


Water Diviner

From June Rain reports on Netflix:

* Daimian Lewis (Henry VIII of Wolf Hall) headed the cast in 3 seasons of Life, a series based on the premise that a cop was erroneously convicted and served 12 years of a life term before he was freed—only to return to his job. Very interesting & well done and not a bad actor in the bunch. Watched all episodes
* Midway through 15 seasons of Midsomer Murders; almost completed season 6 of Inspector Morse; all 6 seasons of George Gently. Surprised there’s anyone alive in the U.K. who isn’t in prison or a member of the police force. I’ve seen every conceivable means of offing someone under the Union Jack. I hope they keep making and exporting them.
* 42 episodes of The Killing. Wish there had been more. Murder and mayhem done in the U.S.
* TED talks – Mind-bending, hilarious, enlightening, inspiring – never a waste of time.

From Mary Lou in MD:

Booknotes Laura May 2015

Jane Hamilton, The Book of Ruth (1988). Ruth is not very bright, but she is extremely perceptive. As she narrates the story of her life, she describes her reality with vivid, earthy and surprising similes. Pick a page, any page: “she was so happy . ., she felt like a spring fed cow pond.” Ruth’s mother May is a bitter and verbally abusive woman. She dotes on her math genius son Matt and never misses an opportunity to tell Ruth how stupid she is. Still, Ruth understands a great deal about her family, her neighbors, the minister, and the social dynamic of her tiny town of Honey Creek in northwest Illinois. There are few bright spots in Ruth’s young life – an elderly neighbor with whom she listens to recorded Dickens and Austin novels and her Aunt Sid in St. Louis. There is no doubt that things will end badly, but Ruth’s point of view remains fascinating throughout all the turmoil and tragedy.

Claude Izner, Murder on the Eiffel Tower (2003; English translation 2007). The brand new Eiffel Tower is the centerpiece of the 1889 World Exposition. Much of the action of this murder mystery takes place in and around the tower at the Exposition. The amateur detective and narrator Victor Legris runs a bookstore with his foster father, who happens to be Japanese. A couple of Russians and a couple Americans also figure in the tale. The setting and the historical milieu should have made this novel more engrossing than it was for me. I found Victor comical and tiresome as he chased one improbable theory after another in his attempts to identify the murderer. Maybe the novel lost a lot in translation.

Deborah Crombie, Leave the Grave Green (1995); And Justice There Is None (2002); No Mark upon Her (2011). New Scotland Yard’s Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant (later Inspector) Gemma James need their combined talents to solve the brutal and puzzling homicides that confront them in these novels. The murders are properly mysterious, the plots are cleverly suspenseful, and the subplots of bureaucratic politics and an emerging love affair weave effectively through the tales.

Jane Sanderson, Netherwood (2011). This is the first in a series of novels set in a Yorkshire coal mining town in the early 1900s. The poverty of the mining family of Eve and Arthur Williams contrasts starkly with the opulence of the huge estate of Teddy Hoyland, Earl of Netherwood. The novel begins with the eviction of striking miners from their company-provided cottages in nearby Grangely, where Eve grew up. Teddy takes pride in the fact that his three mines are much better managed and free from labor troubles. Still, they are not as safe as they could be and Arthur’s friend Amos Syles is trying to organize the men. The earl’s wife Clarissa is planning a spectacular celebration of son Toby’s 21st birthday. Toby is frivolous and self-indulgent, in great contrast to his sister Henrietta, who has a very unladylike interest in the business of the mines and the estate. The plots involving the activities of the two families are sufficient to hold the reader’s interest, but the strength of this novel is in the vitality of the characters.

Jane Sanderson, Ravenscliffe (2012). This novel carries forward with the characters from Netherwood and introduces a few new ones. Eve’s friend and housemate Anna Rabinovitz, widow of a Russian Jewish miner from Grangely, encourages Anna to lease a spacious house on the common – Ravenscliffe. The family moves there and Anna reveals her talents as a decorator. The baking business has moved from Eve’s kitchen to the old flour mill, generously rehabbed and outfitted by Teddy Hoyland. Eve, widowed in the first novel, now has a suitor, master gardener for the Netherwood estate, Daniel MacLeod. Eve’s son Seth is a troubled and troublesome teenager, breaking his mother’s heart with his determination to follow his father’s path in the coal mines. Amos Sykes becomes a Labor candidate for parliament and falls in love with Anna. Up at Netherwood Hall, Toby continues his irresponsible ways and annoys his mother by falling in love with a convention-flaunting American. Henrietta continues to push her father toward safety improvements at the mines and eventually becomes interested in the woman’s suffrage movement. The events of the plot provide the impetus for a satisfying degree of character development. Sanderson sustains the high standard she established in her first novel.

Sarah Addison Allen, Garden Spells (2007). In the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, the members of the Waverley family are viewed with some trepidation because of their magical powers. The apple tree in their back garden shows the future of a person who eats its fruit, so Claire Waverley buries them. She is a very gifted caterer who uses the flowers and herbs of her garden for her specialties. She also can devise recipes that will cause a particular emotional reaction in the persons who eat them. Her elderly cousin Evanelle has a strange compulsion to give things to people. Soon the person will need the peculiar item. Evanelle never knows why. Understandably, any town resident who receives a gift from Evanelle is a bit apprehensive. The plot is a basic romance with a gently humorous magical twist. This is a very Southern novel and delightful reading. 


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