Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Nevermore: My Brilliant Friend, The Wonder, Pearl Harbor, Solar, and Time's Up

Reported by Kristin

Our first reader described Elena Ferrante as an author of vivid books about women’s struggles.  The “Neapolitan Novels” is a four book series which follows two women from Naples, Italy through all stages of their lives.  The titles include My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.  Our reader described the books as having much passion and being reminiscent of an opera, even though they are not musically based.

Next up was The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.  With the Irish potato famine barely past, eleven year old Anna O’Donnell is seen as a miracle or a hoax, as she has chosen to live without food for months.  Worldwide visitors, believing or not, came to see Anna.  Our reader found the book extremely moving and worth reading.

 Another reader has been considering the factors leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Books that helped to supplement an extremely well thought out discussion included Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson, Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack by Steve Twomey, and The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings.  Another book club member added that she was reading Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage by Joseph E. Persico.

Returning to fiction, another reader described Solar by Ian McEwan as a situation where you might be having an argument with someone and you believe you are totally in the right, but that after you walk away you discover that you were actually in the wrong.  In such a way you might learn something about your own fallibility.  The protagonist is a Nobel laureate physicist who has spent years trying, and failing, to live up to his own early success.

Lastly, a light, fun read was recommended:  Time’s Up by Janey Mack.  Maisie McGrane is a woman in her early 20’s who has grown up in a large Irish family full of cops and lawyers.  When she is kicked out the police academy, what is she to do with her life?  Become a meter maid of course, with the hopes of proving herself worthy of reinstatement to the academy.  Compared to early Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, this is one crazy read with larger than life characters.

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