Seniors Book Club June Selection

LongbournThe Seniors Book Club will meet Wednesday, June 10th at 2 pm in the second floor Training Room. This month we’re discussing Longbourn by Jo Baker – an acclaimed British novel that re-imagines Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants of the Bennet household.

The servants at Longbourn estate–only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen’s classic–take centre stage in Jo Baker’s lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn’t in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

A Reader’s Guide by LitLovers.com

Jo Baker on Longbourn and Pride and Prejudice (Youtube video)

An NPR interview with Jo Baker

A Writing.ie interview with Jo Baker

Discussion questions by Random House

A Guardian book review

A New York Times book review

“Longbourn” book club hosting tips from The Social

Jo Baker on Writing (Youtube video)

Monday Evening Book Club April Selection

ConfabulistThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet April 13 at 7 pm in Forsyth Hall. We will discuss the novel The Confabulist by Steven Galloway, one of last fall’s StarFest authors. As some of you were at the event we should have an interesting conversation, enriched by your impressions.

Booklist review:

Confabulation is the invention of imaginary memories to compensate for memory loss. It’s not lying because the confabulist is not aware the memories are false. This fascinating novel is narrated by Martin Strauss, who confesses to two things: he is the man who killed Harry Houdini (twice), and he suffers from a degenerative condition that affects his brain’s ability to store memories. Strauss tells a fascinating story about the unknown Houdini: stage magician—sure, we all know that—but also a secret spy for the U.S. Treasury Department, advisor to the American military, confidant of a Russian spy, faker of his own death. Strauss’ story so cleverly mixes historical fact with fiction that it is virtually impossible to separate the two (and, remember, Strauss believes it’s all true). Author Galloway will often take a real event, such as Houdini’s escape from a prison transport in Moscow, and layer on fictional elements, but it’s done so seamlessly that it’d be easy to think the whole episode really happened (as Strauss, in fact, does). The book’s title itself could easily apply either to Strauss (for obvious reasons) or to Houdini himself, whose escape-artist persona, even his name, was an embellishment of the real man. A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that).

Author biography

Author interview

Youtube video of interview

Reviews

Discussion Questions

Harry Houdini on Wikipedia

Spiritualism

Seniors Book Club November Selection

ConfabulistThe Seniors Book Club will meet Wednesday, November 12 at 2 pm in the second floor Training Room. We will discuss the novel The Confabulist by Steven Galloway, one of our recent StarFest  authors. As many of you were at the event we should have an interesting conversation, enriched by your impressions.

Booklist review:

Confabulation is the invention of imaginary memories to compensate for memory loss. It’s not lying because the confabulist is not aware the memories are false. This fascinating novel is narrated by Martin Strauss, who confesses to two things: he is the man who killed Harry Houdini (twice), and he suffers from a degenerative condition that affects his brain’s ability to store memories. Strauss tells a fascinating story about the unknown Houdini: stage magician—sure, we all know that—but also a secret spy for the U.S. Treasury Department, advisor to the American military, confidant of a Russian spy, faker of his own death. Strauss’ story so cleverly mixes historical fact with fiction that it is virtually impossible to separate the two (and, remember, Strauss believes it’s all true). Author Galloway will often take a real event, such as Houdini’s escape from a prison transport in Moscow, and layer on fictional elements, but it’s done so seamlessly that it’d be easy to think the whole episode really happened (as Strauss, in fact, does). The book’s title itself could easily apply either to Strauss (for obvious reasons) or to Houdini himself, whose escape-artist persona, even his name, was an embellishment of the real man. A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that).

Monday Evening Book Club November Selection

Life after lifeThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet November 10th at 7 pm in Forsyth Hall to discuss the intriguing historical novel Life after life by British author Kate Atkinson.

Summary:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its destiny? And if she can–will she?

Kate Atkinson’s homepage

Reading Guide

Discussion questions

New York Times review

Youtube video of an author interview

Chatelaine Q & A with Kate Atkinson

Senior Book Club May Selection

Life after lifeThe Seniors Book Club will meet on May 14th at 2 pm in the Training Room to discuss Life after life by Kate Atkinson, a British novel that was frequently named as one of the best books of 2013.

About the book:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath.
On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant—this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions . (From the publisher.)

Author Biography

A Goodreads interview with Kate Atkinson

A Video interview with Kate Atkinson

Book Reviews

Discussion Questions