September 18, 2013

August and September Meetings

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple was our August selection and a hit with everyone. Often when a book is one the whole group likes, there ends up not being much to talk about but we found plenty to discuss with this one: the kind of mother Bernadette was (surprisingly good, although she was utterly incapable in so many other ways), the way the book was written, what we thought had happened to Bernadette, and what we thought about the other characters (loved Bee, mixed opinions on Franklin). Talking about Galer Street School got us going on education in general and we shared some of our own history when it came to discussing Bernadette's having a trailer in her backyard. Quite a few of us had grown up with trailers we could hang out in to find some privacy. Did we end up liking Bernadette? We weren't too sure but we certainly found her to be an interesting person who was much maligned by people who thought they were better parents. And we all hate those people!

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel was our September selection for our multigenerational meeting. Unfortunately, with illnesses, new grandbabies, and other commitments, we were a small group - but still multigenerational! Lisa's parents, who weren't able to attend, shared their thoughts by email and Diana's mom was able to join us. Both she and Cheryl expressed how surprised they were to find out how famous the astronauts were not having been that aware of them or their families at the time of the Mercury and Apollo missions.  Lisa's Dad had been aware of the public image of squeaky-clean heroes and their doting wives but chalks that up now to naivete at the time. We all felt that it was too difficult to keep track of who was who and that our interest in the wives that came later definitely fell off. Lisa's mom didn't care for the way the book was written at all but did think that some of that had to do with reading it on the Kindle. Her dad did feel that there was too much detail about the houses, the neighborhoods, the clothing, the stores, saying that he was far more interested in reading about their feelings and emotions regarding their husbands' careers. We talked about interaction between the women, the men's reactions to their space flights, and the women's reactions to the deaths of their husbands. While we agreed that it took a certain kind of man to meet both the physical and mental aspects of the job, we were disappointed to find out that only a couple of the astronauts turned out to be good husbands and real heroes.