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)

 

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)

 

Seniors Book Club January Selection

Mr. Dickens and His Carol - Silva, SamanthaThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 9 in Forsyth Hall on the main floor to discuss the novel  Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva.

About the book …

Samantha Silva’s fiction debut offers a take on how Charles Dickens came to write his famous holiday story, A Christmas Carol. Dickens has just excitedly finished his latest installment of Martin Chuzzlewit and welcomed his sixth child when his publishers inform him that Chuzzlewit isn’t selling and he needs to write a Christmas story or lose money from his advance. Dickens is adamantly opposed, but with family depending on him, he accepts the challenge. Beset by demands from everyone he encounters, he struggles to write the story. Finally, he’s captivated by an unexpected muse and his holiday spirit comes back, inspiring the much-loved and enduring classic. (Library Journal)

About the author…

Samantha Silva is an author and screenwriter based in Idaho. Mr. Dickens and His Carol is her debut novel. Over her career she’s sold film projects to Paramount, Universal, New Line Cinema and TNT. A film adaptation of her short story, The Big Burn, won the 1 Potato Short Screenplay Competition at the Sun Valley Film Festival in 2017. Silva will direct, her first time at the helm. 

Silva graduated from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where she studied in Bologna, Italy and Washington, D.C. She’s lived in London three times, briefly in Rome, is an avid Italophile, and a forever Dickens devotee.

The Man Who Invented Christmas: A timeline of Charles Dickens life

Dickens’ London

An interview with Samantha Silva (Los Angeles Public Library)

Conversation with Samantha Silva (International Press Agency)

Book review (Washington Independent Review of Books)

Mr. Dickens and His Carol: The Ghosts of Dickens and Grenfell

 

Seniors Book Club November Selection

ForgivenessThe Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, November 14 in the second floor Training Room to discuss this year’s winner of Canada Reads, the memoir Forgiveness : a gift from my grandparents by Mark Sakamoto.

About the book …

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean traded his quiet yet troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada for the ravages of war overseas. On the other side of the country, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their pleasant life in Vancouver starting to fade away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ralph found himself one of the many Canadians captured by the Japanese in December 1941. He would live out his war in a prison camp, enduring beatings, starvation, electric feet and a journey on a hell ship to Japan, watching his friends and countrymen die all around him. Mitsue and her family were ordered out of their home and were packed off to a work farm in rural Alberta, leaving many of their possessions behind. By the end of the war, Ralph was broken but had survived. The Sakamotos lost everything when the community centre housing their possessions was burned to the ground, and the $25 compensation from the government meant they had no choice but to start again.

Forgiveness intertwines the compelling stories of Ralph MacLean and the Sakamotos as the war rips their lives and their humanity out of their grasp. But somehow, despite facing such enormous transgressions against them, the two families learned to forgive. Without the depth of their forgiveness, this book’s author, Mark Sakamoto, would never have existed.

Author website

Author biography

Forgiveness on Canada Reads

A Maclean’s interview

A CBC Books interview

A National Post book review

A Ripple Effects Blog book review

A CBC Q Radio interview with Mark Sakamoto and Joy Kogawa

Mark Sakamoto about “Where I Write”

“Why Mark Sakamoto’s father got emotional reading his son’s memoir”

Architect Raymond Moriyama on Internment

Mark Sakamoto on YouTube

A Globe and Mail article by Mark Sakamoto