Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 2010 Book Club Meeting

Summary: The Petrakis family lives in the small Greek seaside village of Plaka. Just off the coast is the tiny island of Spinalonga, where the nation's leper colony once was located—a place that has haunted four generations of Petrakis women. There's Eleni, ripped from her husband and two young daughters and sent to Spinalonga in 1939, and her daughters Maria, finding joy in the everyday as she dutifully cares for her father, and Anna, a wild child hungry for passion and a life anywhere but Plaka. And finally there's Alexis, Eleni's great-granddaughter, visiting modern-day Greece to unlock her family's past.

A richly enchanting novel of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Mediterranean during World War II, The Island is an enthralling story of dreams and desires, of secrets desperately hidden, and of leprosy's touch on an unforgettable family. -- Harper

For our March meeting, we read THE ISLAND by Victoria Hislop. I haven't written my review yet, but I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. In fact, all of our members really liked the book, even the ones that weren't too thrilled to be reading a book about a leper colony.

We did end up talking about the book for a little while, but it wasn't one of our most in-depth discussions. Having said that, we did cover everything I thought there was to cover; and we actually addressed most of the discussion questions before we even looked at them. I found it interesting that we all agreed that the historical aspect/story was terrific; however, we thought the first few chapters and the last few pages (the parts that took place during the present) were kind of lacking. I don't know if lacking is the correct word, but one member even went so far as to question if those parts were necessary for the novel. I think we all agreed that the ending was kind of wrapped up too quickly and didn't really add anything to our enjoyment of the novel.

Next month, we will be reading (or in the case of me, re-reading)
SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman. As many of you know, I absolutely loved this book -- here's my raving review; and I can't wait to hear what my friends think about it. I had a feeling when I first read CEECEE that it wasn't going to be a popular pick for book clubs...

And now for the really exciting part! Beth Hoffman has agreed to call into our meeting via speakerphone! I can barely stand it. I have considered Beth to be a long-time twitter friend, and the thought of having her join us is almost too good to be true. Our book club used hasn't had a lot of authors join us recently so I know we are all looking forward to our April meeting.

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. -- Pamela Dorman Books/Viking


bermudaonion said...

You will love talking to Beth Hoffman, but be prepared with a box of tissues! She wears her heart on her sleeve and will make you cry (they're good tears, though).

Anonymous said...

Julie, thanks for sharing your book club meeting experience. I love reading about other book clubs. I haven't read The Island yet, but I do have it. Maybe this year. How wonderful to get to talk with Beth Hoffman. I truly enjoyed her book and I think that author call-ins certainly add to the book club discussion.

Jo-Jo said...

How awesome that you will be reading Saving CeeCee with your group! I've been passing this one around to my members and we all just love it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I haven't read Cee Cee yet, but I intend to very soon. I love southern, atmospheric novels. I can't wait to see how the call-n from Beth goes. Our book club has never done something like that, but I think it would really add to the understanding of the book.

Misa said...

I've heard great things about this book! Love the cover.

holdenj said...

I completely enjoyed Ceecee as well! How fun to have Beth call your bookgroup! Can't wait for next month's report.

Bonnie said...

My book club just read this, it was a re-read for me as well. Everyone liked it and it was a great feel good book and CeeCee is such a wonderful character. You're in for a treat talking with Beth! I met her at a book signing and she felt like an old friend. She is a wonderful storyteller and is so enchanting!