Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nevermore: American Quilt, Underground Railroad, My Absolute Darling, A Brief History of Everyone, Girl in a Swing, Valley of the Kings

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began this week with a couple of different readers delving into different books concerning slavery.  First, one reader finished An American Quilt:  Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery by Rachel May.  This volume looks further than the Southern cotton fields to the production of textiles in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States.  May was able to discover the story behind an unfinished quilt from the 1830s—several slave women and their journey from the West Indies to New England.  Our reader was very impressed by the author’s research, and learned so much about slavery in her own home state of Rhode Island.

The next reader continued with The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Reaching #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, this novel recounts the story of Cora, a slave working on a Georgia cotton plantation.  Influenced by Caesar, another slave, she decides to run to the North using the Underground Railroad.  Our reader found this to be a really good book, although depressing in that the conditions endured by the runaways were very difficult.  Of special interest was that there were actually tunnels underground for some stretches of the routes, but that they were mostly symbolic, as they only went a short way.

Another New York Times bestselling novel was popular this week:  My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent.  A fourteen-year-old girl escapes the cruel abuse of her father by running off into the mountain wilderness.  Her survival skills taught by her father prove useful.  Our reader deemed this a wonderful book, and noted that the girl was not just fighting for her life, but for her soul.

Returning to non-fiction, another book club member read  A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford.  This extremely readable work explains the workings of DNA and how humans have evolved over time.  Our reader demonstrated the clarity of the author’s work as she described the building blocks of our genetic code: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine.

Another reader had just begun A Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams.  This older romance about an English bachelor falling in love with a young German promised to be very entertaining.  Our reader noted that she was intrigued by the sheet pasted inside the front cover by a long ago librarian who asked readers to write down their impressions of the book.  Naturally, different readers had very different opinions.

Lastly, an archaeology buff noted that Valley of the Kings: Exploring the Tombs of the Pharaohs by John Romer was an extremely valuable resource for those interested in the lives of ancient Egyptian royalty.  Going from Napoleon’s era to the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carver, this work of non-fiction thoroughly covers the discoveries made and information about the explorers who sought these antiquities.

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