Friday, March 13, 2009

March 2009 Book Club Meeting

Summary: Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it. -- Harper

Last night, The Preschool Moms Book Club met to discuss THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein. I absolutely loved this book (you can read my review) and everyone in our group agreed. It was a definite favorite! And I wasn't alone with my tears at the end of the book -- most of us admitted that we shed a few tears.

We all adored Enzo, especially those in the group with dogs; and I think we all appreciated how the author was able to make Enzo so insightful and wise while also keeping his dog traits. We also agreed that the comparisons between living your life and driving in the rain were brilliant. I think every one of us mentioned someone special in our lives with whom we want to share this book. That's a pretty strong endorsement for this novel coming from eight women!

Next month, we will be reading THE TEN YEAR NAP by Meg Wolitzer. The reviews for this book are all over the map, and one member actually read it last night (I'm not sure it was her favorite book but she does think there is a lot to discuss.) I think it's a wonderful pick because so many of us gave up our careers to stay at home with our children. I'm betting that not all of us are going to love this pick, but I have no doubt that our conversation should be interesting.

Summary: From the bestselling author of The Wife and The Position, a feverishly smart novel about female ambition, money, class, motherhood, and marriage-and what happens in one community when a group of educated women chooses not to work.

For a group of four New York friends, the past decade has been largely defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated and reared to believe that they would conquer the world, they then left jobs as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and film scouts to stay home with their babies. What was meant to be a temporary leave of absence has lasted a decade. Now, at age forty, with the halcyon days of young motherhood behind them and without professions to define them, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen face a life that is not what they were brought up to expect but seems to be the one they have chosen.

But when Amy gets to know a charismatic and successful working mother of three who appears to have fulfilled the classic women's dream of having it all-work, love, family-without having to give anything up, a lifetime's worth of concerns, both practical and existential, opens up. As Amy's obsession with this woman's bustling life grows, it forces the four friends to confront the choices they've made in opting out of their careers-until a series of startling events shatters the peace and, for some of them, changes the landscape entirely.

Written in Meg Wolitzer's inimitable, glittering style, The Ten-Year Nap is wickedly observant, knowing, provocative, surprising, and always entertaining, as it explores the lives of these women with candor, wit, and generosity. -- Penguin


Julie said...

Good luck. I could not STAND this book when I read it last year. I finished it just to finish it. I didn't find any of the characters likable.

bermudaonion said...

I'm really looking forward to reading THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN.

Amy said...

Yikes! Julie's comment scares me a little as I have this book in my TBR pile! :)

Alyce said...

From the description I think The Ten Year Nap looks really good. I can relate to giving up a career to stay at home and be a mom. I look forward to reading your review.

Oh, and I really liked The Art of Racing in the Rain too.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

This was one of my favorite books from 2008. I read this not too long after I'd lost my dog to old age and it really hit home for me. I'm glad you liked it.