Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Reads

Full moon and book club on the same night, down at BPYC. A wonderful evening.

In what is almost becoming an annual tradition, members of two of my favourite book clubs got together to talk about their summer reads.

Kaarina recommended  Sussex Drive, by Linda Svendsen, as a superb satire, although the first 100 or so pages are tough slogging. The main characters bare a strong resemblance to the current residents of our own number '24,' although the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Christina is making her way through the Book Babes 2013 reading list: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller,  Trust your Eyes by Linwood Barclay; The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Widow and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson; and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Nicki took time to sing the praises of Terry Fallis' Up and Down and Best Laid Plans and Kaarina quickly seconded the recommendation. But it was Kate Atkinson's Life After Life Nicki had planned to talk about: as the character is born and reborn, the story unfolds that is told from different perspectives. The tip is to "watch the dates" at the chapter headings to keep oriented.

Cynthia was visiting us from White Rock BC. An early, but former member of the Book Babes, her current book club is so serious they assign questions for the book's discussion well in advance. The club was split in their reviews of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, but Cynthia highly recommended this story about a WWII bombardier's struggle to return to 'normal.'

Maureen talked about two different works of historical fiction she'd recently enjoyed. The Conductor, by Sarah Quigley, gives insight into the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich as Nazi troops storm into the Russian capital. The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan is about how the painter Degas changes the life of a destitute dancer when he brings her to life on canvas.

Maj-Lis gave a very tepid review of The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood, acknowledging that it had received high ratings elsewhere,  not all the stories within the story held her interest. Kaarina "loathed" the novel but Maj-Lis "didn't hate it." Others preferred different Atwood novels... Grace weighing in strongly for Alias Grace, not just because it was her namesake but because of the setting, the twists, and the turns.

Grace shared her discovery of Suite francaise in her local library and how the work of Irene Nemirovsky was published posthumously. She enjoyed the story as much as the behind-the-scenes discovery of the long forgotten manuscript, tucked away in an attic. But we were all far more interested in New France, a book Grace recently published with the help of her daughter Elaine.

I shared some recent reads, including Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel; Night Circus, and another strong summer favourite, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

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