The book group was back in January 2016 to discuss Ru by Kim Thuy, a short novel about life in Vietnam during and following the war and about immigrating to Canada. The book is written in a lovely poetic style; the most common comment at the meeting was that each page should be read slowly and savoured.
February’s book was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a novel set in France and Germany during World War II. A few of us had a bit of difficulty at the beginning with the brevity of the chapters and quick changes in time and place, but that difficulty was quickly overcome, and all of us agreed that the novel was beautifully and imaginatively written, with wonderfully complex characters and a horrifying depiction of war and Nazi Germany.
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman was our March book. (We were going for all the light we could get during the long Canadian winter.) The novel, set in Australia in a region between the Pacific and Indian oceans, is a complicated story of loss, longing, and the catastrophic consequences of one impulsive decision. Most of us liked this book as well, but perhaps not quite as much as All the Light We Cannot See.
In April, we discussed The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a quirky novel set in an opulent apartment building in Paris. The characters are intriguing and evolve in interesting ways. The dual narrators’ observations are wise and thought-provoking. We enjoyed this novel and agreed that it deserved another read, just for the wisdom of the observations.
May’s book was The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. This non-fiction book about the Chicago World’s Fair reads like a novel. The characters are compelling. (The psychopath is compelling in a gruesome sort of way.) All of us found the story behind the fair to be fascinating and far more interesting than we had expected.
For June, we decided to discuss a classic: The Awakening by Kate Chopin, a novel set in Louisiana. When first published in 1899, the novel shocked and scandalized many readers. For us, it was interesting to discuss why, as well as to consider what has changed for women and what has not. A few of us were frustrated with the passivity of the main character, but most of us enjoyed the novel and came away from the discussion with a deeper appreciation for both the writing and the story.
In July, we met to choose books (and activities) for the upcoming year. Our August book will be The Outlander by Gil Adamson. We’re also hoping we can decide on a name for our little group.
Stay tuned …