We had an interesting discussion of our February book, The Last Painting of Sara DeVos. It is in part a mystery, and a good part of our discussion was following the trail of clues. We all enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading a good story.
Our book choice for March is My Dearest Friend: Letters of John & Abigail Adams by John & Abigail Adams. It is a collection of 289 letters between them, of some 1,160 that have survived. In 1762, John Adams penned a flirtatious note to “Miss Adorable”, the 17-year-old Abigail Smith. In 1801, Abigail wrote to her husband to wish him a safe journey as he headed home to Quincy after serving as president of the nation he helped create.
Their correspondence gives modern Americans a very personal view of our country’s founding. They include comments on the great events of the day – the Battle of Bunker Hill, the vote for independence, the inauguration of Washington as president – as well as discussions of daily life, stories of neighbors and relatives, complaints about the high cost of living and laments over tragedies such as their stillborn daughter and the deaths of their parents. One reviewer says the letters “are fun reading, bubbling with the charm, intelligence and passion of these two, who were both compelling and entertaining writers.”
We invite all to read the book and join us in a discussion on Thursday, March 12, at 2:00 pm.
We had a lively discussion of our November book, The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. Set in 1947, the author uses great fires of history, such as the bombing of Hiroshima, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, the Great Fire of London, and the London Blitz, as metaphors for the effects of WWII on her characters, survivors of the war.
For December, we are reading Stoner by John Williams, a novel published in 1965. It sold only 2000 copies in its initial printing and then went out of print. In the last 5 years it has topped best-seller lists in Europe and has rising sales in the United States, most of that due to word-of-mouth. Part of our discussion will probably give us insight into why this is true.
The main character, Stoner, is the dutiful son of a poor farmer, who discovers the power of literature in college and pursues his calling, laboring to honor the mission of teaching. He relishes teaching students, but his career is stymied by a malevolent head of department; he falls in love and marries, but knows within a month that the relationship is a failure; he adores his daughter but she is turned against him; he is given new life by an affair, but it ends badly. He does have some small victories towards the end of the novel. But Williams said in an interview, “I think he had a very good life. He was doing what he wanted to do, a job in the good and honorable sense of the word.”
We will meet December 12 at 2:00p.m. in the Lounge, where Sue Fish will lead a discussion of the book. All of you are welcome to read the book and join us.
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