Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 2008 Book Club Meeting and August Selection

Summary: A deeply felt first novel of family, choices, and coming to terms with the past.

On a stifling Christmas Eve in 1967 the lives of the McDonald children-Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith-changed forever. Their mother, Rosemarie, told them she was running out to buy some lights for the tree. She never came back. The children were left with their father, and a gnawing question: why had their mother abandoned them?

Over the years, the four siblings have become practiced in concealing their pain, remaining close into adulthood, and forming their own families. But long-closed wounds are reopened when a chance encounter brings James face-to-face with Rosemarie after nearly forty years. Secrets that each sibling has locked away come to light as they struggle to come to terms with their mother's reappearance, while at the same time their beloved father is progressing into dementia. Veitch's family portrait reveals the joys and sorrows, the complexity and ambiguity of family life, and poignantly probes what it means to love and what it means to leave. -- Plume

The Preschool Moms Book Club met last night to discuss WITHOUT A BACKWARDS GLANCE by Kate Veitch. I thought it was a terrific discussion! There were definitely some different views on whether the book was enjoyable or not; however, I think we all thought that it was a well written and intriguing story. We talked for almost a half hour before we even got to the discussion questions because everyone had something to say about this book (in my opinion, that's a sign of a good discussion book.) One thing we all agreed on (remember that we are all moms with young kids) is that we couldn't forgive (or even understand) the mother for leaving her kids. But putting that aside, we spent a lot of time talking about the effects of the mother's abandonment on her four children.

I think we ended up spending the most time discussing the nature versus nurture part of personalities -- for some reason, our conversation kept coming back to this debate. This topic was part of our discussion even before we got to Question 2 in the reading guide. (Question 2 in the guide asked, "To what extent were the personalities of the children shaped by their mother's departure and absence? Do you think they would have had similar personalities and traits if she hadn't gone?") Most of the children showed signs of their "problems" even before their mother left them. It really made me wonder if they would have had their issues even if their mother had been present in their lives -- maybe their issues were exacerbated because she left, but I'm not really sure. I wonder how different (and maybe worse) their lives would have been if their mother had stayed and ended up possibly resenting her life (or suffering from some sort of depression.) Another popular discussion was the issue of birth order on peoples' behaviors and personalities. Of course, this led to personal stories about each of us with our own siblings as well as stories about our children.

I had a feeling when I read the summary of the book that it would make a good book club pick; and I'm happy to say that it most definitely was a great discussion book! We talked about so many interesting issues, especially the ones about family dynamics. While we did spend a lot of time talking about this book, I honestly think we could have kept on talking all night just analyzing the characters and the story! I highly recommend WITHOUT A BACKWARDS GLANCE for one of your future book club meetings.

Our August selection is SWEET LOVE by Sarah Strohmeyer. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book, and I can't wait to read it. I'm planning on taking it with me to the beach since it looks like a perfect summer read! I am so grateful to Falise from 24/8 Book Club and Dutton for providing us with copies of this book!

Summary: An irresistibly delicious novel about the power of love...and dessert.

Like other well-meaning mothers, Julie Mueller’s believed she did the right thing when she secretly ended her teenage daughter’s crush on Michael Slayton, a wild older neighborhood heartthrob with a penchant for Shakespeare and the pedigree of trailer trash.

Twenty years later, Betty Mueller has come to realize that was a big mistake. Her daughter Julie – divorced and raising a teenage daughter alone – is a workaholic obsessed with her career. And Michael, the one man who could make her happy, is the one man to whom she won’t speak.

Now dying and determined to make amends, Betty stages her last great feat of motherhood by reuniting the couple in a dessert class where she hopes the sweetness of a chocolate almond Torta Caprese will erase the bitterness of a wretched misunderstanding.

“Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said thy edge should blunter be than appetite,” Shakespeare once pleaded—though it will require more than poetry and passion fruit for Julie and Michael to renew their love.

It will, in fact, require the sweetest sacrifice of all. -- Dutton Adult


Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing what your book club thought of the book. Very interesting

Sarah Strohmeyer said...

I'm so glad to hear you're reading SWEET LOVE....I'll be happy to facilitate the discussion in any way, Julie, especially since this book is so near and dear to my heart! (

Julie said...

I wonder since you read Comfort Foods how similar and different you will find it to Sweet Love. You'll have to let us know.