Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 2008 Book Club Meeting and May Selection

Summary: Wisconsin, 1961. Evelyn “Button” Peters is nine the summer Winnalee and her fiery-spirited older sister, Freeda, blow into her small town–and from the moment she sees them, Button knows this will be a summer unlike any other. Much to her mother’s dismay, Button is fascinated by the Malone sisters, especially Winnalee, a feisty scrap of a thing who carries around a shiny silver urn containing her mother’s ashes and a tome she calls “The Book of Bright Ideas.” It is here, Winnalee tells Button, that she records everything she learns: her answers to the mysteries of life. But sometimes those mysteries conceal a truth better left buried. And when a devastating secret is suddenly revealed, dividing loyalties and uprooting lives, no one–from Winnalee and her sister to Button and her family–will ever be the same. - bantam dell

Last night, the Preschool Moms Book Club met to discuss THE BOOK OF BRIGHT IDEAS by Sandra Kring. We all agreed that it was a wonderful book, and we had so much to talk about. It says something about the quality of the book that we actually discussed it rather than venturing off on other subjects. We started out using the reader's guide to get the discussion flowing; however, we found there was still more that we wanted to talk about.

Our entire book club found that, by the end of the book, we loved almost all of the main characters. I can't tell you how unusual that is for us! We actually spent a lot of time discussing the personalities and traits of the characters and how they changed throughout the book. I don't want to give anything away, but our discussion kept coming back to the themes of redemption and friendship. There were just so many other issues that we touched on including self confidence, mother-daughter relationships, mothering skills, and "bright ideas."

I loved Ms. Kring's writing style, and I have much appreciation for how she set up the story. Her first person narrative, by a nine year old girl, seemed very real to me as did many of the characters. Even though there were some sad parts of this book, there was also a great deal of humor woven in. While we were a little upset in how the book ended (because we wanted what we thought was best for the characters, not because it was a bad ending), I found Ms. Kring's overall messages very uplifting. I strongly recommend thinking about THE BOOK OF BRIGHT IDEAS for a future book club selection.

Our May selection is MATRIMONY by Joshua Henkin. I am just thrilled (and very nervous) that Mr. Henkin will actually be meeting with my book club to discuss his book. I have heard wonderful things about this book and can't wait to read it.

Summary: From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get out–out from under his parents’ influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.

When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carter’s mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthy–wealthier, even, than Julian himself.

Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is–Julian and Carter agree–dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.

But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair that–spurred on by family tragedy–will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next ten years. Then Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, and he throws everyone’s life into turmoil: Julian’s, Mia’s, his own.

Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than they’d expected? Can love endure the passing of time?

In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone–to do it when you’re young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age. -- random house


Anonymous said...

I loved this book - it was so sweet. The characters and friendships were genuine and innocent and I loved them all for different reasons. Your review was great - good book club selection.

Julie said...

Matrimony sounds really good. I added it to my Amazon wish list.

Anonymous said...

I'd considered Matrimony before. I'll look forward to your review.

LisaMM said...

I'll be reading this book for an online book club soon at Every Day I Write the Book Blog.. there might be some copies left if others are interested in receiving it: