December 22, 2016

October, November, and December

In October, we read Anna Quindlen's Miller's Valley. For Lisa S, it was one of her favorite books of the year. While not everyone enjoyed it as much (some thought it was too slow), we had a interesting discussion about it, trying to skirt around a big reveal toward the end of the book that actually let all of us wondering. The relationships between the characters gave us a lot to talk about - sisters who lived on the same piece of property but had almost nothing to do with each other, a couple who may have been living with a secret for years, the burden placed on a daughter by her parents. While it may not be a book everyone will love, it's definitely a book that will give book clubs plenty to talk about.

In November, we read Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies (unless your Linda, who accidentally raced to finish it for our December meeting!). Lisa and Ann both liked the book a lot, the way Groff tells the story of a marriage from both the husband's and the wife's point of view. We agreed that the wife's part almost read like a thriller with secret after secret being unveiled but we also agreed that the book might have been a bit too long, with so much of some of the plays included. Again, this one is certainly not a book everyone in book clubs will enjoy, but since the point of a book club is to find things to discuss about the book, this does make a good choice.

For December, we read The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown. Those who finished the book all liked it a lot, although we all agreed that, for most readers, it's too detailed. If you're interested in rowing as a sport, you may be interested in reading the details of each race and the minutiae of building the shells from wood. For those looking for an interesting human interest story, an underdog success story, and some interesting history of both the U.S. and Germany, this is a book worth reading even if it does mean you might want to skim over a lot of the races.

We all learned a lot about the Nazi propaganda machine as well; while we were aware that Hitler had meant for the games to shine a positive light on Nazi Germany, we weren't as aware of just how much had been done to sanitize what they were doing so that they looked less dangerous to the world.

We got very involved in the stories about the boys in the boat that we got to know well and got a little agitated about how Joe Rantz's father and stepmother treated him. Although Linda had been a month behind, because she had just finished Fates and Furies, she was the one to point out that in both November's and December's books, we had characters whose parents had abandoned them and we spent the rest of the book seeing how that had impacted the character (although, of course, here it was a real person).

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