Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nevermore: Clock Dance, Lilac Girls, Salt Lane, Before We Were Yours, Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy, Treasure Island

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began with a touching novel, Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. Willa Drake is a middle aged woman looking back over the decades of her life, from her mother’s disappearance in 1967 to decisions as a college student in 1977 and on to 2017 as she watches her family continue to evolve. Our reader said that she found this to be a strong, wonderful book, and that Tyler writes in such a way that you feel all the emotions of all the characters.

Another reader had picked up the bestseller Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, a novel based on a true story about medical experimentation on young women during Nazi Germany. Opinions on the novel were mixed, with the current reader finding it distasteful even as she skipped to the last chapter to decide whether or not it was worth finishing. (She decided it wasn’t.) Another reader agreed that she did not like the characters, but another thought that it was very well-written.

Salt Lane by William Shaw was appreciated as having a good plot and interesting characters. Alexandra Cupidi has gone from the London police department to being a sergeant in the Kent countryside. Bodies buried in the salt marshes, or “lanes,” begin appearing and Alexandra must investigate. While this is the first in a series based around the policewoman, some characters from the stand-alone novel The Birdwatcher do appear.

Two storylines intertwine in Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, one of a young woman prosecutor born into modern day privilege and one of a young girl wrenched from her family in 1939. Based on a true story of a corrupt Memphis adoption agency, this novel kept our reader riveted to the pages. The characters were vivid and believable, coming to life in alternating time periods to create a memorable story.

Stepping into non-fiction, Pulitizer Prize-winning author and historian Walter A. MacDougall made an appearance at the table with The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest. Describing the idealism that United States citizens have often displayed since our earliest days, MacDougall attempts to define how our relatively young country has been different from other world countries. One example given by our reader was that the U.S. did not try to colonize other territories until the 1890s when the leaders tried to control Cuba, which then led to claiming a stake to the Philippines and more. After World War I, the U.S. attempted to return to an isolationist stance, but was forced back into the world arena by World War II. Our reader did an excellent job thoroughly explaining the complexities of history presented by the author.

Finally, another book club member decided to read the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. She had never read it, but was fascinated to learn that the story was originally presented as a serial in the children’s magazine Young Folks in 1881 and 1882. The adventure novel captivated our reader, who even though she had to look up some of the old fashioned vocabulary used, found it very interesting.

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