Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, tells about the reign of Henry VIII up through his marriage to Anne Boleyn.   Thomas Cromwell is Henry's fixer - he is the go between for Anne and Henry, and takes Henry's claims of a "false" marriage to Catherine to court.  But the book is told from Thomas' point of view, in the present tense.  It begins with Thomas as a young teenager. 

The book begins:
 "So now get up."
   Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; ....

There was much discussion on Good Reads about this use of pronouns to refer to Thomas.  You don't find out his name until after he has crawled off to his sister's house.  What do you think of this usage?  Do you feel close to Thomas, in his head so to speak? Or, are you alienated by the consistent use of pronouns to refer to Thomas?

One suggestion I have is, if you are not familiar with Thomas Cromwell in English history, read a bit about him in Wikipedia or BBC History.  Here is an interview with Hilary Mantel about Thomas Cromwell.

Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last Policeman Discussion #2

January is rapidly fading.  Here are some things to think about in The Last Policeman.

Many of the people Hank meets and/or interviews tell him how they are handling the news of Maia's coming.  Some go "bucket list", leaving their jobs and going off to do what "they'd always wanted to do".  Others keep on with their work, like Dr. Fenton, the pathologist, who says, "This is what I've always wanted to do." (part one, chapter 5)

Which person are you?  Would you stay with your job, your family, your community?  Or would you go do something you've always wanted to do?

What about the children?  Sophia Littlejohn keeps delivering babies. And there are more babies being born all the time.  And the Concord School District has stayed open. (part one, chapter 4)  If you had a child, what would you do?  Would you be able to control your feelings for the sake of the child?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Last Policeman nominated for Edgar award for Best Paperback Original

Each Spring, Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar® Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre.

Our book this month, The Last Policeman, has been nominated for the Edgar Award in the Best Paperback Original category.  This honor is very deserved and puts Winters in company with previous winners Lisa Scottoline and Harlan Colben. 

Last year's winner was The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett.  It is also a cross-over novel from a science fiction writer.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Last Policeman Discussion #1

Different people in the book react differently to the asteroid.  Det. Palace wants to continue to investigate deaths - not assume they are all suicides.  Henry Zell keeps actuarial tables.  Others go "bucket list" - trying to fulfill their lifelong desires.

What do you think you would do?  How would you handle the uncertainty of not knowing if you will be in the area hit by the asteroid? 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman has been billed as a "pre-apocolyptic" by reviewers.

"Postapocalyptic novels are a dime a dozen, but how many good preapocalyptic novels can you name?" (Booklist, vol 108, number 21).

"In a pre-apocalyptic world, one detective still keeps watch--but to what end?" (Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2012)

With six months to go before the Earth is destroyed by asteroid 2011GV1, most of the police force and the general populace have given up.  The most common call out for the police is for suicides.  On the other hand, detective Hank Palace still believes in the cause of justice.  He is called to investigate the apparent suicide of insurance agent Peter Zell.  Hank does not believe it is suicide, but cannot convince his colleagues that the death bears further investigation.

The book poses the ultimate question: what would you do if you knew the world was ending in six months? 

The Last Policeman is the first in a planned trilogy.  Good Reads reviews

Copies of the book are available at the library.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Girls in White Dresses" Discussion #6

Where do you imagine Isabella, Mary and Lauren will be in five years? 

Did you enjoy reading the book?  What other books have you read that are similar?

Suggested Reading:

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This concludes Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close.  In January, we will discuss The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Girls in White Dresses" Discussion #5

From "Flushing Willard" 

When they were younger, Lauren and her friends talked about boys constantly.  They told each other every detail and dissected each sentence.  Bus as the years went by and they moved into separate apartments, it changed.  These weren't just random boys they were going to date and then break up with.  These were boys they might end up marrying.

What were Lauren's reservations about dating Mark?  What did Willard the goldfish's death mean to her?
Why is Lauren ready to call the turtle Mark gives her Rudy, when she wouldn't use that name for Willard the goldfish?

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Girls in White Dresses" Discussion #4

Throughout the book, questions of identity pop up.  How are the girls questioning their identity, their place in life?  Who seems to have created the strongest sense of self by the end of the book? 

from Jesus is Coming, near the end.

"I'm not changing my name back," Beth told them.  "I thought about it, but I'm going to stay Beth White."  Isabella didn't think this was a wise decision.

"Why wouldn't she go back to Beth Bauer?" she asked Lauren.  "She doesn't have any kids.  It's so weird."

"I don't know," Lauren said.  "Maybe she's afraid no one will remember who she is."

"Maybe," Isabella said.  The thought left her uneasy.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  There will be new posts beginning Monday, Nov 26.  Feel free to comment on any posts so far over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Girls in White Dresses" Discussion #3

The Peahens

Several of the characters keep some pretty big secrets, such as the way Abby keeps her friends away from her hippy parents.  How does keeping her family background a secret affect Abby's life? When her friends finally meet her family, are they as horrified as Abby thinks?  If they had met during the girls' college years, would their reaction have been different?

"The neighbors are neglecting their exotic birds."  "The peacock bleated and bobbed around the pen, and the peahens followed.  One of the peahens was slower than the other one, and she limped as she tried to keep up."

What is the metaphor of the peahen?  Why is Abby so upset about the injured peahen?

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