Lifespan Book Club

The Book Club meets the last Monday of each month at Trinity Presbyterian Church.  The new list of books we are reading will be posted soon.  In the meantime, take a look at the selections we read and discussed in 2015.

BOOK CLUB 2015

Meets at 12:00 noon –   Trinity Presbyterian Church

3003 Howell Mill Rd, NW Atlanta, GA 30327

January 26– (please note that this is our annual pot luck luncheon) I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9th, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York.  At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel peace Prize.

 

Reviewer______Meg Taylor

February 23- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

This novel is essentially a love story between a 68-year old retired Maj. Ernest Pettigrew and a 58-year old Pakistani shop keeper Mrs. Ali, brought together by their loneliness and love of literature. Yes, it doesn’t sound very exciting, and yet it is an absolutely charming story. Set in modern England , it encompasses  many facets of British life- clashes and frictions between generations, social classes, religions and cultures – all portrayed from the POV of an aging, conservative and very proper man, who because of his late love, finds himself compelled to face many issues he preferred to avoid or overlook in the past.

Reviewer____________Judy Kiely_____________________________

March 30- Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline

On the coast of Maine lives a wealthy ninety one year old woman named Vivian Daly.  In her attic are trunks that reveal the secrets of her turbulent past.

It is the year 2011, and nearby in the same town of Spruce Harbor, lives a seventeen -year-old girl named Molly Ayer who has bounced from foster home to foster home, and now  is in a situation involving petty theft that will require some kind of community service.

Told in beautifully evocative prose, the story unfolds in alternative perspectives, revealing what has happened to each of them, and how the parallel lines of their lives now converge to spotlight the similarities between them.

From Vivian’s early childhood in Ireland, to New York City, comes her passage on the Orphan trains in 1929. A journey that will take her to Minnesota, from one home to another, never really knowing what home feels like as she is treated like a slave and seldom has enough of anything, much less affection or love.

Reviewer________________Hennie Rodts___________________________

April 27- The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Amazing in every way, Sue Monk Kidd manages to excel in storytelling, character, and an inspiring if sorrowful message in her latest, “The Invention of Wings”.

Wings is based loosely on the real-life story of Sarah Grimke, a Southern aristocrat whose father is a bigshot judge on South Carolina’s Supreme Court, where Sarah wants to be eventually. She is given a slave called Handful for her 11th birthday, which strikes the little firebrand as something ridiculous.  How can someone OWN another person? She doesn’t want the “gift” but she’s forced to accept.

From there, the story is set in motion and follows the two women as they struggle for a common goal: freedom.  Handful, naturally, struggles for her freedom from bondage, and Sarah for her freedom from the misogynist oppression of pre-suffrage era sexism. She’s taught how to needlepoint and play piano, but she escapes her constrained existence by getting into her father’s forbidden library and dreaming of great things like abolition work.

Reviewer __________________Suzie Poole__________________________

June 1st – (this meeting is a week later because of Memorial Day)

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.  The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew, rowing for Adolf Hitler, in the Olympic  games in Berlin, 1936.

The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team.  They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together – a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate story of nine working- class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant.

Reviewer____________Frank Gleason______________________________

June 29- Potpourri of your Favorite Books

Come prepared to tell about your favorite books.  Just remember, you only have a few minutes to tell us why we MUST read your favorites.

July 27- The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The Fever Tree is a page-turner of the very first order.

Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and immigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land, she becomes entangled with two very different men, one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness.

But this is a ruthless world of avarice and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation. Removed from civilization and disillusioned by her isolation, France must choose between passion and integrity, a decision that has devastating consequences.

The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how – just when we need it most – fear can blind us to the truth.

Reviewer______________________Mimi Roberts_____________________

August 31Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a  curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life-sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition-its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Reviewer______________________Cele Covatta_____________________

September 28- The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round House by Louise Erdrich  turns a  dire reality into a powerful human story in her novel, in which a Native American woman is raped somewhere in the vicinity of a sacred round house, and seeking justice becomes almost as devastating as the crime.

 

October 26- Fever by Mary Beth Keane

A bold, mesmerizing novel about the woman known as “ Typhoid Mary,” the first known healthy carrier of typhoid fever in the burgeoning metropolis of early twentieth century New York.

Mary Mallon was a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant woman who bravely came to America alone, fought hard to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic service ladder, and discovered in herself an uncanny and coveted talent for cooking. Working in the kitchen of the upper class, she left a trail of disease in her wake, until one enterprising and ruthless “medical engineer” [proposed the inconceivable notion of the “asymptomatic carrier”-and from then on Mary Mallon was a hunted woman.

In order to keep New York’s citizens safe from Mallon, the Department of Health sent her to North Brother Island where she was kept in isolation from 1907-1910. She was released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary – spoiled by her status and income and genuinely passionate about cooking – most domestic and factory jobs were heinous. She defied the edict.

Bringing early twentieth-century New York alive – the neighborhoods, the bars, the park being carved out of upper Manhattan, the emerging skyscrapers, the boat traffic- Fever is as fiercely compelling as Typhoid Mary herself, an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the hands of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes an extraordinary dramatic, vexing, sympathetic uncompromising, and unforgettable heroine.

 

November 30-    Z   A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Before F. Scott Fitzgerald was a literary darling, before he even begun to imagine The Great Gatsby or Benjamin Button, he was a young WWI army lieutenant who fell hard for a spirited Southern belle named Zelda Sayre. The life he and Zelda would lead together in New York, Long Island, Paris, Hollywood and the French Riviera made them legends in their own time.

Set amidst the glamour of the Jazz Age and The Lost generation’s vivid world abroad, Z vividly brings Zelda and Scott’s romantic tumultuous, extraordinary journey to life.

December – No Meeting

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