Monday Evening Book Club October Selection

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The Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, October 22 in the second floor Training Room to discuss My Brilliant Friend, a novel by Elena Ferrante.

About the book

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. (Publisher)

About the author

Ferrante is the pseudonymous author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of AbandonmentTroubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With My Brilliant Friend – the first of four Neopolitan novels – she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction. The other three novels in the Neopolitan series are The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.

Based on published interviews, Ferrante claims to have been born in 1943 in Naples, Italy.

Seniors Book Club October Selection

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The Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, October 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss Of This Earth: A Mennonite Forest in the Boreal Forest, a memoir by Rudy Wiebe.

About the book

In Of This Earth, Rudy Wiebe gives vivid life again to the vanished world of Speedwell, Saskatchewan, an isolated, poplar-forested, mostly Mennonite community – and Rudy’s first home. Too young to do heavy work, Rudy witnessed a way of life that was soon to disappear. And we experience with him the hard labour of clearing the stony, silty bushland; the digging out of precious wells one bucket of dirt at a time; sorrow at the death of a beloved sister; the disorienting searches for grazing cattle in the vast wilderness sloughs and the sweet discovery of the power of reading.

Rare personal photographs (reproduced throughout the book) and the fragile memories of those who are left give shape to the story of Mennonite immigrants building a life in Canada, the growth and decline of the small Speedwell community, the sway of religion, and a young boy’s growing love of the extreme beauty of the aspen forests – as well as how all these elements came to inform his destiny as a writer. (Publisher)

About Rudy Wiebe (Publisher)

Where the truth lies: Author Rudy Wiebe on what’s important (Edmonton Journal)

Why Rudy Wiebe will never write a funny novel (Q&A on CBC)

A history of Russian Mennonite immigration to Canada 

Mennonites and their beliefs

Seniors Book Club September Selection

Last NeanderthalThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, September 12 in the second floor Training Room to discuss The Last Neanderthal, a novel by Claire Cameron.

About the book…

40,000 years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. After a crushingly hard winter, their numbers are low, but Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the annual meeting place and find her a mate. But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling of unknown origin. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter storms, Girl realizes she has one final chance to save her people, even if it means sacrificing part of herself. In the modern day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby comes. Linked across the ages by the shared experience of early motherhood, both stories examine the often taboo corners of women’s lives. Haunting, suspenseful, and profoundly moving, THE LAST NEANDERTHAL asks us to reconsider all we think we know about what it means to be human.

Claire Cameron’s website

Author biography

Claire Cameron “On Writing”

Claire Cameron’s essay: Neanderthals were women, too.

Reading Group Guide (includes discussion questions)

A Quill & Quire book review

A National Post book review

The Next Chapter interview with Claire Cameron

Interviews on Youtube

Neanderthal article in Wikipedia

Neanderthals 101 / National Geographic video

National Post article about Neanderthal research

About Neanderthal/human interbreeding

Monday Evening Book Club September Selection

GoldfinchThe Monday Evening Drop-In Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, September 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss The Goldfinch, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Donna Tartt.

About the book…

The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. (Publisher)

About Donna Tartt

A New York Times interview

An Irish Independent interview

Discussion Questions

A Vanity Fair book review

A Guardian book review

The Goldfinch movie information

The Goldfinch (painting by Carel Fabritius)

The Tragic true story of The Goldfinch

Video interview with Charlie Rose

Other YouTube video interviews

 

 

Seniors Book Club June Selection

Women in the castleThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Thursday, June 14 (date change!) in the Training Room to discuss The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck.

About the book …

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined–an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding. Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war–each with their own unique share of challenges. (Publisher)

About the author …

Jessica Shattuck lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, MA.

Her fiction has appeared in The New YorkerGlamourOpen City, and The Tampa Review among other publications.

Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York TimesMother JonesWiredThe Believer Magazine, and The Boston Globe.

Her novel, The Women in the Castle is a New York Times Bestseller, and The Hazards of Good Breeding was 
a New York Times Notable Book, a Boston Globe best book of the year, and a finalist for the 2003 PEN/Winship Award. (author website)

Author website

An Indie Next Q&A with Jessica Shattuck

An NPR interview with Jessica Shattuck

An audio interview with the author

The Book on Youtube

Publisher’s Reading Guide

A New York Journal of Books review

A Washington Independent Review of Books review

A Huffington Post article by Jessica Shattuck “On the Anniversary of Kristallnacht”

The July 20, 1944, Plot to Assassinate Adolf Hitler

German Resistance to Hitler