Seniors Book Club April Selection

NightfallThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, April 10 in the second floor Training Room to discuss the novel  Nightfall by Richard B. Wright.

About the book …

From the acclaimed writer of the beloved Clara Callan comes a memorable novel about first loves, love-after-love, and the end of things, set during summer in Quebec City.

James Hillyer, a retired university professor whose life was evocatively described in Wright’s novel October, is now barely existing after the death of his beloved daughter in her forties. On a whim, he tries to locate the woman he fell in love with so many years ago on a summer trip to Quebec and through the magic of the Internet he is able to find her. But Odette’s present existence seems to be haunted by ghosts from her own past, in particular, the tough ex-con Raoul, with his long-standing grievances and the beginnings of dementia. The collision of past and present leads to violence nobody could have predicted and alters the lives of James and Odette forever.

Nightfall skillfully captures the way in which our past is ever-present in our minds as we grow older, casting its spell of lost loves and the innocent joys of youth over the realities of aging and death. The novel is skillfully grounded in observation, propelled by unforgettable characters, and filled with wisdom about young love and old love. Drawing on the author’s profound understanding of the intimate bonds between men and women, Nightfall is classic Richard B. Wright. (Publisher)

Author biography (Wikipedia)

Obituary in Niagara This Week

A Macleans Magazine article

A Globe and Mail book review

A National Post book review

Richard B. Wright about writing (a National Post article)

 

Monday Evening Book Club April Selection

EducatedThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, April 8 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss the memoir Educated by Tara Westover.

About the book…

Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school.

Westover’s mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn’t have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school—ever—and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought.

Author website

Discussion Questions

Video Interviews

CBC’s The Current interview (audio)

A Book Review by Bill Gates

A New York Times Book Review

A Guardian Book Review

Ruby Ridge siege (an event that radicalized Tara’s father)

Monday Evening Book Club March Selection

All things consoled

The Monday Evening Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, March 11 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss the memoir All Things Consoled: A Daughter’s Memoir by Elizabeth Hay.

About the book…

Jean and Gordon Hay were a colourful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvellous sense of humour, was superlatively frugal; nothing got wasted, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying temper, a deep streak of melancholy, and a devotion to flowers, cars, words, and his wife. As old age collides with the tragedy of living too long, these once ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on Lizzie, the so-called difficult child. By looking after them in their final decline, she hopes to prove that she can be a good daughter after all.
In this courageous memoir, written with tough-minded candour, tenderness, and wit, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family’s dynamics–entrenched favouritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the most
unforgettable characters she will ever know, the vivid giants in her life who were her parents.

About Elizabeth Hay (by the author)

An interview with Elizabeth Hay: The guilt and anguish of looking after elderly parents (Macleans)

Elizabeth Hay on back-seat inspiration and Jane Austen’s ghost (CBC)

Review in Quill and Quire

Review: Elizabeth Hay presents a powerful memoir of her parents final years (Artsfile)

Review: Elizabeth Hay brings family drama to life

Elizabeth Hay talks to Shelagh Rogers about All Things Consoled (CBC)

Fiction about complicated families to help you navigate holiday dysfunction (CBC)

 

Seniors Book Club March Selection

Wildwood

The Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 13 in Forsyth Hall on the first floor of the Library to discuss the novel  Wildwood by Elinor Florence.

About the book …

Broke and desperate, single mother Molly Bannister of Phoenix, Arizona, accepts the stern condition laid down in her great-aunt’s will: to spend one year in an abandoned farmhouse deep in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. If she does, she can sell the farm and fund her four-year-old daughter Bridget’s badly needed medical treatments.

With grim determination, Molly teaches herself the basic pioneer skills, chopping firewood and washing her clothes with melted snow. But her greatest perils come from the brutal wilderness itself, from blizzards to grizzly bears. The journal written by her courageous great-aunt, the original homesteader, inspires her to struggle on.

But there’s another obstacle to her success: an idealistic young farmer, Colin McKay, wants to thwart Molly’s strategy to sell her great-aunt’s farm to an oil company. Will Molly be cheated out of her inheritance after all? Will she and Bridget survive the savage winter, and what comes next? Not only their financial future, but their very lives are at stake.

About the author…

Elinor Florence grew up on a Saskatchewan grain farm, a former World War Two training airfield near North Battleford.

After earning her English degree at the University of Saskatchewan, she studied journalism at Carleton University. She launched her career at her hometown newspaper The Battlefords Advertiser-Post, followed by The Western Producer in Saskatoon, The Red Deer Advocate in Alberta, The Winnipeg Sun in Manitoba, and The Province in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Weary of city life, Elinor and her husband moved their young family to the mountain resort town of Invermere, British Columbia. For the next eight years, she was a regular writer for Reader’s Digest.

She returned to her newspaper roots when she purchased a fledgling local newspaper, The Columbia Valley Pioneer, and turned it into an award-winning community staple.

Elinor sold the newspaper in 2010 to pursue her lifelong goal of writing fiction. Her first historical novel Bird’s Eye View was published by Dundurn Press of Toronto in October 2014.

She continues to interview veterans and blog about our proud history at Wartime Wednesdays. In 2016 many of her original interviews appeared in a book of non-fiction titled: My Favourite Veterans: True Stories From World War Two’s Hometown Heroes.

Her new novel Wildwood was released in February 2018. It tells the story of a single mother from the big city who inherits an abandoned off-the-grid farmhouse north of Peace River, Alberta, and must learn the pioneer arts in order to survive.

Married with three grown daughters, Elinor loves village life, historical research, old houses, and antiques. (Author’s website)

Background to Wildwood: Information and photos from the author’s website

Interview: Exploring Elinor Florence’s picturesque Invermere writing paradise

You’re literally surviving: Woman strives to live off-grid in northern Alberta (CBC article and video)

Review: An escape into the untamed north

Paper Dreams Blog review of Wildwood

Canada’s last homesteaders (National Post)

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club February Selection

And after the fireThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, February 13 in the second floor Training Room to discuss the novel  And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer.

About the book …

Susanna has the perfect New York City life: a great job, a loving husband and a beautiful apartment. But when a random act of violence tears it apart, she’s left to pick up the pieces alone. Just as she begins to feel whole again, her beloved Uncle Henry commits suicide—leaving behind a cryptic note that alludes to his haunting WWII experience as an Allied soldier in Germany . . . and something he took from the devastated country before returning home.

The daughter of the king’s Jewish banker, Sara is among the elite of Enlightenment-era Berlin. Beautiful, intelligent and a gifted pianist, she hones her musical talents under Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach. They share a special bond, but while her life is just beginning, his is coming to an end. On his deathbed, Wilhelm bequeaths Sara the score of one of his father’s cantatas. Sara is stunned to see its violently anti-Semitic lyrics. Why did her beloved want her to have this horrifying document?

Weaving together the stories of Susanna and Sara, Lauren Belfer creates a majestic narrative that spans lifetimes and continents, encompassing both the best and the worst of the human spirit. The cantata’s troubled, riveting journey reveals that the two women have more in common than the score, and what Susanna learns may be the thing that can, finally, allow her to heal and move on.

About the author …

Lauren Belfer was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up in Buffalo, where she attended the Buffalo Seminary. At Swarthmore College, she majored in Medieval Studies. After graduating, she worked as a file clerk at an art gallery, a paralegal, an assistant photo editor at a newspaper, a fact checker at magazines, and as a researcher and associate producer on documentary films. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University.

Lauren decided to become a writer when she was six years old. By the time she was in high school, her literary work was receiving rejection letters from all the best publications. Her first published short story was rejected forty-two times before it found an editor who loved it. Her second published story was rejected only twenty-seven times.

Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages.

Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Her third novel, And After the Fire, received a 2016 National Jewish Book Award.

Belfer’s fiction has also been published in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and Henfield Prize Stories. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere.

She lives in New York City.

A Conversation with Lauren Belfer

An interview with the author (Laurenbelfer.com)

Reading Group guide

Awards and reviews

Real People and Places in And After the Fire

Music from the novel

Was J.S. Bach anti-Semitic? A CBC Radio/Sunday edition interview

A Literary Couple grapple with Bach and his God (NYTimes article)

History of Anti-Semitism (Wikipedia)