All discussions will be held in the Crozet Library, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. New members are always welcome!
Monday, Jan. 4, 2010: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. “This epistolary novel, based on Mary Ann Shaffer’s painstaking, lifelong research, is a homage to booklovers and a nostalgic portrayal of an era. As her quirky, loveable characters cite the works of Shakespeare, Austen, and the Brontës, Shaffer subtly weaves those writers’ themes into her own narrative. However, it is the tragic stories of life under Nazi occupation that animate the novel and give it its urgency; furthermore, the novel explores the darker side of human nature without becoming maudlin. The Rocky Mountain News criticized the novel’s lighthearted tone and characterizations, but most critics agreed that, with its humor and optimism, Guernsey “affirms the power of books to nourish people during hard times.” (Washington Post) Bookmarks Magazine
Feb. 1: A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines
In a small Cajun community in 1940s Louisiana, a young black man is about to go to the electric chair for murder. A white shopkeeper had died during a robbery gone bad; though the young man on trial had not been armed and had not pulled the trigger, in that time and place, there could be no doubt of the verdict or the penalty. Populated by strong, unforgettable characters. Amazon.com
Mar. 1: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (author) and Alison Anderson (translator)
Renée Michel has been the concierge at an apartment building in Paris for 27 years. Uneducated, widowed, ugly, short and plump, she looks like any other French apartment-house janitor, but Mme. Michel is by no means what she seems. A “proletarian autodidact,” she has broad cultural appetites—for the writings of Marx and Kant, the novels of Tolstoy, the films of Ozu and Wenders. She ponders philosophical questions and holds scathing opinions about some of the wealthy tenants of the apartments she maintains, but she is careful to keep her intelligence concealed, having learned from her sister’s experience the dangers of using her mind in defiance of her class. Similarly, 12-year-old Paloma Josse, daughter of one of the well-connected tenant families, shields her erudition, philosophical inclinations, criticism—and also her dreams of suicide. But when a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu, moves in, everything changes for both females. He detects their intelligence and invites them into his cultured life. With its refined taste and political perspective, this is an elegant, light-spirited and very European adult fable. Kirkus Reviews.