February 16, 2016

January and February: A Man Called Ove and A Duet of Sherlock Holmes Novellas

Our February book was Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove, as recommended by Ann. What a great book for discussion. A unique writing style where certain phrases kept repeating throughout the book, a unique character who was not at all someone to like in the beginning and who you came to love as you read on. Very few of us had finished the book which made for a short, disappointing discussion as those of us who had read the book didn't want to spoil it for those who had not finished the book.

It is above all a book about how circumstances can crush a soul but also about the transformative power of love. Those of us who had read the book. Those of us who had read the book love the relationships Ove had with those around him, particularly with the women in his life.

This book was and excellent book club selection but a good reminder that if not enough people read the book before book club meets, it's really hard to talk about some books.

Going forward, those of us who have read the books are just going to spoiler the hell out of the books for those of you who haven't gotten finished yet but might want to finish yet. Sorry. But it's not nearly as much funny to discuss the book when you have to worry that you're going to ruin it for someone.

This month we enjoyed having a special guest, Nancy's daughter Maggie who belongs to a Sherlock Holmes book club and is something of an Sherlock expert. We also had a quiz. Yep, a quiz. Lisa had done some research and watched a television show on PBS about the impact of the Sherlock Holmes books and put together a quiz. It made for a lot of fun as everyone learned something about the impact of the books on forensic science and Maggie could contribute a lot to giving us more details about the answers. Linda was the winner of a loaf of coffee cake bread. Extra points were given for having read the books. Heads up, guys; you never know when we'll have another quiz...and another prize!

Some had read one or the other of the books, some both, some none but we were still able to have a lively discussion about Conan Doyle's characters, writing, and the history of the books. We agreed that the character of Watson serves as the "every man," all of the readers, in that we are always behind Holmes in solving the case. We talked about whether or not Holmes might now be concluded to have Asperger's Syndrome (as further evidenced by both the latest BBC adaptation, "Sherlock" and NBC's "Elementary").

Everyone was impressed by the fact that a man who had very little medical background was able to write stories that included investigative skills that are still considered the best method, skills that police forces had never considered when the books were written. We also talked about the way Conan Doyle wrote about women...and how Watson was lost once women came into the picture.

These were definitely stories out of our comfort zone but they made for fun discussion and, given the amount of background information to be found, make good book club selections.