Friday, January 27, 2012

January 2012 Book Club Meeting

Next month, we will be reading IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson. I have been wanting to read this one ever since BEA so I'm looking forward to it. Having said that, I'm a little worried about some of the reviews out there, but for the most part, they seem to be generally positive.

Summary: Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels,
In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror. -- Crown

I reviewed IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson a few days ago, and I have to say that this book will not be going down as one of my favorite reads of 2012. However, I was curious to see how my friends would feel about this book. Maybe I would be in the minority since I'm not a big fan of historical books?

So we met this week to discuss this book and I'm still not sure how everyone felt about it. I don't think anyone absolutely loved it and no one admitted that they hated it. So I guess I have to say that we all had a pretty similar reaction to it. It was an interesting read, but at the same time, it was a rather dry in certain spots.

I'm not sure that this book was the ideal discussion book for me group. Of course, we had no problem talking for 3+ hours, but it certainly wasn't about this book for the entire time. In fact, looking back, I don't think we spend all that much time talking about the characters or their actions. As is often the case when none of us are enthusiastic about the book, our conversation turned to more relevant topics including our schools and politics. And yes, we did keep things civilized (in case you were wondering.)

Next month, we will be reading THE TIGER'S WIFE by Tea Obrecht. February is actually my month to host book club so THE TIGER'S WIFE was my selection. I have read so many incredible things about this novel and the author, and I hope it lives up to my expectations. I admit I'm a bit worried because the initial feedback from my friends hasn't been overly positive. Not totally negative either, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at least a few of us will love it.

Summary: In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife. -- Random House


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'll be interested to hear about The Tiger's Wife!

bermudaonion said...

My book club acts like that no matter what book we read and sometimes it frustrates me! I'll be anxious to see what you think of The Tiger's Wife - I met the author and thought she was wonderful!

Serena said...

Tiger's Wife sounds like it could generate conversation...Sorry Garden of Beasts didn't work out as a discussion book for your club

Sandy Nawrot said...

Sometimes it is good to inspire hate or love, but the in-between stuff is maddening. I would have been happy to jump in and spew some criticism just to rile them up. I did not likey.

Brenda's Arizona said...

And here I sit, having to admit I love "In the Garden of Beasts". Enough so that I sought Erik Larson's other books and read them. Something about his research caught me. Did anyone feel badly for Dodd being out of his element?

Marion said...

I really liked this book, it was horrifying to be sure but it was also very well written and informative. I certainly sympathised with Dodd and the dreadful position he found himself in, I think his whole family was unsuited for the roles they found themselves in quite frankly but Dodd in particular was very badly manipulated by those who had different values and slightly different agendas.