Thursday, January 17, 2008

April’s Book Club

So this Friday evening, April 25th, we will be discussing The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

February’s Book Club

On Friday, February 29th, we will be discussing Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera (see post below). And we did decide what we’d be discussing in March, but do you think I remember?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Son of a Witch

I’m listening to an audiobook of Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch, sort of a sequel to Wicked (which I haven’t read yet), on which the musical is based. He himself narrates it. I can’t recommend him as a narrator, but I’ll excuse him because I love his writing.

This starts where Wicked ends, apparently—when the witch dies. (In case you haven’t read or seen Wicked, it’s a riff on The Wizard of Oz.) Full of unexpected twists in language, character, and plot, this adult novel blends satisfyingly complex vocabulary and cultural references with the commonest of street talk. It also blends Maguire’s wild inventions with not-very-veiled references to current events.

I also loved the other book of his that I’ve read—Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. He reimagines the story of Cinderella, placing the characters in 17th-century Holland, and turning everything upside down.

Book Club, January 2008

I keep forgetting to post the book club meetings here. Well, the next one is tomorrow night (Friday, January 11). We’ll be discussing The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a book that makes me feel as if I were in school again—in a good way.

In case you’ve forgotten how it works (if you’re like me), we alternate every month between classics* and current books. We decide two months ahead of time which book we’ll read, to make it easier for the librarian to get copies for us. We decide at each meeting what the date will be for the next meeting (always on a Friday night, except for the Christmas party, which is on a Saturday night in December) and where we’ll meet. In December, the meeting and book discussion are replaced by the Christmas party, and in the summer we slow down, meeting only once in July/August.

For information on book club and where it is this time, please call the library at 482-8806.

The book we’ll discuss next time (which we decided last time—confusing, isn’t it?) is Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez (1985).

*We’ve expanded the category of “classics” to include biography and nonfiction, when we feel like it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I've Come Late to the Philippa Gregory Show

I thought I’d made a new discovery in The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction about Henry VIII’s fourth and fifth wives. Unlike some other efforts I can think of, this is not just a costumed veneer to disguise steamy sex (or a jockstrap ripper, as my mother said once), but what seems like an honest attempt to make history come alive (okay, with some incidental steamy sex).

Of course now that I look at the cover (I listened to it, so I didn’t get the full physical impact of the book), it does look more like a romance than anything else; I can see why I've skipped over this author before, completely unaware.

It turns out that Ms. Gregory is practically an industry already (, and The Boleyn Inheritance is just the latest in a long line of novels about English history. A reliable source in the book club says that it’s not even her best. I’ll let you know when I read another one. And apparently a movie based on an earlier novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, is coming out in February.

It used to be that all I knew about Henry’s wives was “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” Whether this book is on target or not (and it seems as though she intends it to be), I’ve got more of an interest in Anne of Cleves and Kathryn Howard, and an urge to read more.