Book Discussions

The Sherborn Library offers periodic book discussions open to anyone who has read the selected title.  As part of our popular Smartypants Book Bash series,  discussions are frequently facilitated by local academics who teach are area universities.  

Multiple copies of the book are typically available at the Library.  For further information about book discussions, please contact Public Services Librarian Donna Bryant via email, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 508.653.0770.

  September, 2016, Back Bay
 backbay  Six generations of the Pratt clan live in the Back Bay, where murder, greed, betrayal, and lust are all part of the story and where the city of Boston is a character all on its own. Author Will Martin will be on hand to discuss this, his first book and an instant best-seller when published in 1992. (Martin's many subsequent books include The Lincoln Letter, Citizen Washington, and Cape Cod.)
  June, 2016, End-of-Year Wrap-up
  Join book group members for an informal discussion of the books to be read in 2015-16.
 
 
May, 2016, San Remo Drive  POSTPONED
 sanremodrive
Discussion led by Leslie Epstein, the author.
Dr. Epstein is also a Professor of English at Boston University.

Four linked stories take place between 1948 and 1960-- all exploring the arcs of several lives and the changing physical and social landscapes of America in general and Hollywood in particular. Questions of race, religion, art, interpersonal relationships, and personal integrity are posed but not resolved. The characters are similarly complex and fascinating, particularly Richard; his maddening muse, Madeleine; his manipulative mother, Lotte; and his "crazy" brother. This excitable, rebellious, charismatic, and blond adolescent is named Barty, so an otherwise highly realistic work brings constant reminders of another Hollywood icon, Bart Simpson.

  April, 2016, Uncle Tom's Cabin
 uncletomscabin
Discussion led by Dr. Laura Korobkin, Associate Professor at Boston University.
 

Nearly every young author dreams of writing a book that will literally change the world. A few have succeeded, and Harriet Beecher Stowe is such a marvel. Although the American anti-slavery movement had existed at least as long as the nation itself, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized public opinion as nothing had before. The book sold 10,000 copies in its first week and 300,000 in its first year. Its vivid dramatization of slavery’s cruelties so aroused readers that it is said Abraham Lincoln told Stowe her work had been a catalyst for the Civil War.

Today the novel is often labeled condescending, but its characters—Tom, Topsy, Little Eva, Eliza, and the evil Simon Legree—still have the power to move our hearts. Though “Uncle Tom” has become a synonym for a fawning black yes-man, Stowe’s Tom is actually American literature’s first black hero, a man who suffers for refusing to obey his white oppressors. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a living, relevant story, passionate in its vivid depiction of the cruelest forms of injustice and inhumanity—and the courage it takes to fight against them.

  March, 2016, Fahrenheit 451
 fahrenheitimage
Discussion led by John Hudson, pastor of Pilgrim Church.

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

  February 2016, Lady Audley's Secret
 ladyaudleycover
Discussion led by
Dr. Danielle Coriale,
Visting Professor at Harvard University
 

Murder, mystery, mistaken identity, madness, bigamy, adultery: These were the special ingredients that made the sensation novel so delectable to the Victorian palate.. Lady Audley looks like the angel-in-the-house ideal of Victorian womanhood-she is blonde, fragile, and childlike-but her behavior is distinctly villainous. At a time when Victorian women were beginning to rebel against their limited roles as wives and mothers, novels such as Lady Audley's Secret spoke to their secret longings and fantasies. Genteel women readers, slaving away as governesses in other people's families, could share the fantasy of poor Lucy, suddenly made a lady by her marriage to Sir Michael. Part detective story, part domestic drama, Lady Audley's Secret became a runaway bestseller of its era. Nearly a century and a half since it was first published, Lady Audley's Secret has lost none of its ability to disturb and captivate readers.

  January 2016, Ship of Brides
 ship

Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes begins at the end of World War II as women travel to join the men they married in wartime. From Sydney, Australia, four women join other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England via the HMS Victoria, which also carries a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, but the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined.

  December 2015, A Good Man is Hard to Find

 goodman

  In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor pushes the concept of right and wrong/good and evil to the extreme as her characters fight for survival and become enlightened — through death. People are still discussing the contradictory nature of O’Connor’s work and her controversial final chapter.

 

November 2015, Far from the Madding Crowd

 hardy

Thomas Hardy's classic novel Far from the Madding Crowd tells the story of the beautiful and sometimes impetuous Bathsheba, her many suitors, and the challenges of sheep farming. Boston University professor Anna Henchman leads a discussion of the book on Thursday, November 19, at 7:00 PM.

 

October 2015, Lost Lady

 lostlady

First published in 1923, A Lost Lady is one of Willa Cather’s classic novels about life on the Great Plains. It harks back to Nebraska’s early history and contrasts those days with an unsentimental portrait of the materialistic world that supplanted the frontier. In her subtle portrait of Marian Forrester, whose life unfolds in the midst of this disquieting transition, Cather created one of her most memorable and finely drawn characters.

 

 September 2015, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

 billylynn

Billy Lynn is part of a unit called the Bravo Squad, fighting in Iraq. After a brief but intense fight anointed as "the Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal", Lynn and seven others surviving members return to the U.S. hailed as war heroes. They are sent on a "Victory Tour" by the government and are wooed by Hollywood producers, smitten by Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and share a stage at halftime with Beyonce. Guzzling Jack and Cokes and scuffling with fans, the Bravos are conflicted soldiers.  Ben Fountain, gives us a maddening and believable cast of characters who make us feel what it must be like to go to war. Veering from euphoria to dread to hope, Billy Lynn is a propulsive story that feels real and true.   Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the National Book Award.

 

 June, 2015, Person of Interest

 personofinterest

 Susan Choi’s 2008 novel takes its title from the law enforcement term "person of interest," and includes fictionalized references to Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber. A deadly explosion in a neighboring faculty office forces Midwestern college professor Lee to deal with demons from his past.

 

May, 2015  (No meeting)

 For April: Something a little different!

Dr. Kellie Donovan Condron of Brandeis University will lead two short story discussions in these workshops

designed to help participants get more from their reading.  She will offer guidelines and strategies book groups can implement to improve the level of discourse enjoyed while discussion literature. Thursday April 16th, we will discuss Sir Arthur Conon Doyle's short story:  Scandal in Bohemia. 

 

March 2015, Marcelo in the Real World

 marcelo

Written by Sherborn resident Francisco Stork and the focus of several events throughout the community in March, Marcelo in the Real World combines a coming of age story with romance and legal intrigue. Author and attorney Stork will be on hand for the evening's discussion.

 

February 2015, The Lowland

 lowlandpbk

Set in India and on Rhode Island's shore, this National Book Award Finalist novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, centers on two brothers--Subhash (the serious one) and Udayan (the rebellious one)--bound by together by tragedy. Lahiri packs generations of family history into this sweeping novel.  

 

January 2015, Empty Mansions

 emptymansions_cover__140314185131

 A fairytale in reverse, Empty Mansions is the story of heiress Huguette Clark, a talented woman born to wealth and privilege who closed herself off from the world. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman, in collaboration with Clark's cousin, Paul Clark Newell Jr.

 

December 2014, The Stranger

 strangercamus

 This classic novel by Albert Camus, first published in 1946, tells the story of a senseless murder committed by an apparently immoral young man.  

 

November 2014, Turn of the Screw

 turnofscrew

One on the world’s most famous ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw is considered by scholars to be James’ most puzzling and enigmatic work, sparking a literary controversy lasting decades---are the ghosts real or is the does the governess have “issues…” James keeps the suspense screw turning by gradually removing the cognitive linchpins of the reader’s reality

 

 October 2014, Dracula

 dracula

During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker's 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire. Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound

 

 Summer 2014, Hawaii

 hawaii

In Hawaii, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Michener weaves the classic saga that brought Hawaii's epic history vividly alive to the American public on its initial publication in 1959, and continues to mesmerize even today. Polynesian seafarers lived and flourished in this tropical paradise according to their ancient traditions and beliefs until, in the early nineteenth century, American missionaries arrived, bringing a new creed and a new way of life to a Stone Age society. The impact of the missionaries had only begun to be absorbed when other national groups, with equally different customs, began to migrate in great numbers to the islands. The story of modern Hawaii, and of this novel, is one of how disparate peoples, struggling to keep their identity yet live with one another in harmony, ultimately joined together to build America's strong and vital fiftieth state.

 

 June 2014,   A Room of One's Own

 roomonesownwoolf

"A Room of One's Own" is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published in 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled "Women and Fiction", and hence the essay, are considered non-fiction. The essay is generally seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy. 

 

 aviatorbenjamin

May 2014,  The Aviator's Wife 

Melanie Benjamin’s 2013 novel is a fictionalized account of the life of Anne Morrow, first introduced as the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico—but perhaps most famous at the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the first to fly solo across the Atlantic. Covering a broad swath of 20th century history from the Depression era through the mid-sixties, the novel keeps its focus on one woman and the challenges she faces in asserting her own identity while also being “the aviator’s wife.”

 

 neverletmego

April 2014,    Never Let Me Go  

Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day) experiments with dystopian science fiction in this 2005 novel. Over the course of four separate “acts,” the narrator Kathy tells the story of students who meet at an unusual English boarding school. At Hailsham teachers are called “guardians” and students focus on creating art. The larger purpose the school—and of the students themselves—is only slowly revealed.

 

 snowchild

March 2014,   Snow Child 

On a bleak Alaska homestead in 1920, a childless couple begins to grow apart. Together they build the figure of a child out of snow. The snow child blows away, but a real girl appears in its place. Is this a fairytale, or the answer to dreams? Nothing is quite what it seems to be in Eowyn Ivey’s haunting and magical 2012 novel.

During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker's 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

 

 call

February 2014,   The Call 

When his son goes into a coma following a hunting accident, small-town Vermont veterinarian David Appleton is distraught and obsessed with vengeance. He pours his frustrations into short statements and summaries—the kind you might find in a medical professional’s journal, giving this novel an unusual structure along with doses of poignancy and humor. The Call(2011) is the newest book by Yannick Murphy, author of Stories in Another Language and The See of Trees.

 

 areyoumymother

January 2014,   Are You My Mother?

In this 2012 memoir, Alison Bechdel delves further into family history (first seen in Fun Home) and “examines her own and her mother's lives, interwoven like M.C. Escher's infinite staircase.” The creator of the long-running cartoon Dykes to Watch Out For, Bechdel here crafts a book that is equal parts autobiography and graphic novel. Both poignant and hilarious what one reviewer calls “a complex, almost dizzying tour de force of storytelling.”

 
 badgirls

December 2013,   Bad Girls
Rebecca Griffin only ever wanted one thing: to be a good wife and mother. Now, it’s the 90’s and Rebecca has everything she ever dreamed of. But she suspects her husband is having an affair and fears her daughter, Dana, is going bad; hurtling dangerously out of reach toward a self-destructive calamity. Then Rebecca learns of the mysterious death of a distant cousin long ago at the prison bordering the small, idyllic New England town where she lives.

 

caneriver 

November 2013,   Cane River 
Lalita Tademy's riveting family saga chronicles four generations of women born into slavery along the Cane River in Louisiana. It is also a tale about the blurring of racial boundaries: great-grandmother Elisabeth notices an unmistakable "bleaching of the line" as first her daughter Suzette, then her granddaughter Philomene, and finally her great-granddaughter Emily choose (or are forcibly persuaded) to bear the illegitimate offspring of the area's white French planters. In many cases these children are loved by their fathers, and their paternity is widely acknowledged. However, neither state law nor local custom allows them to inherit wealth or property, a fact that gives Cane River much of its narrative drive.

 

 hepburn

October 2013:  Katharine Hepburn
Leaming starts this biography not with Hepburn's birth and early life but with her mother Kathy (known later as Kate). Kathy's mother, Carrie, was forced to take charge of her three girls after the suicide of her husband, Fred. Carrie's courage, strength, and fervid desire for her daughters to be educated led Kathy to become a leader in the early women's movement. These role models together helped shape the woman we know as Katharine Hepburn. Leaming hypothesizes, however, that Hepburn was also driven by the shadow of suicide, which took her brother Tom as well. This is less a gossipy, glitzy celebrity bio and more an exploration of the New England social mores that shaped this living legend.

 

 badgirls

September 2013,   Author appearance 
Sherborn resident and author, Deborah Doucette joined the book group for a reading of her new novel "Bad Girls." Deborah Doucette began her writing career as a free-lance journalist subsequently becoming involved in the issue of grandparents raising grandchildren. She is the author of the non-fiction book Raising Our Children’s Children: Room In The Heart, which has been updated for re-release in Spring 2014. Deborah is a blogger for the Huffington Post, an artist, and mother of four. She lives in a small town west of Boston with her red standard poodle Fiamma (Italian for flame) surrounded by her art and joyfully enjoying the comings and goings of her twin grandbabies. She is working on a new novel.

 

 favoritebook

May 2013,   Your Favorite Book
This month, members should  bring a book of his or her choice.  Participants should bring a few reviews of the book, some information about the author (previous work, awards, experiences that influenced the book).   A description of the basic plot would also be helpful, as well as the reader's thoughts about why or why not it might be a good choice for the book group.  

 

 heartisalonelyhunter

April 2013:  The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation after the publication of this novel. At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

 

allquiet 

March 2013:  All Quiet on the Western Front
Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.

 

oscarlucinda 

February 2013,   Oscar and Lucinda
This sweeping novel, is a romance, but a romance of the sort that could only take place in nineteenth-century Australia. For only on that sprawling continent--a haven for misfits of both the animal and human kingdoms--could a nervous Anglican minister who gambles on the instructions of the Divine become allied with a teenaged heiress who buys a glassworks to help liberate her sex. And only the prodigious imagination of Peter Carey could implicate Oscar and Lucinda in a narrative of love and commerce, religion and colonialism,that culminates in a half-mad expedition to transport a glass church across the Outback.

 

 worldapart

January 2013:  A World Apart
Journalist Rathbone offers a broad yet intimate portrait of life behind bars for women prisoners in MCI Framingham. She spent four and a half years investigating the prison, fighting legal battles for fuller access, and enduring frustration when she was limited to meeting women only in the visiting room. Rathbone offers a historical perspective on the century-old prison and prison reform but is most effective in conveying the personal stories of a few women, who, like most women in prison, were convicted on drug-related charges. Denise, a former stripper, worries about losing time with her young son, who is in the custody of her mentally unstable husband; Julie, the daughter of a policeman and a former heroin addict, is serving time for robbery and is using her youth and sexual appeal to get favors from the guards; and Charlene hungrily devours longer visits with her daughter obtained through the Girl Scouts Behind Bars program. The women speak of the shockingly few programs for education and training, surreptitious sexual relationships with guards, and the agonizing tedium of doing time.

 

childrensstory  

December 2012,   The Children's Story

The story takes place in an unnamed school classroom, in the aftermath of a war with an unnamed country. It is implied that America has been defeated and occupied. The story opens with the previous teacher leaving the classroom, having been removed from her position and replaced with an agent of the foreign power. The new teacher has been trained in propaganda techniques, and is responsible for re-educating the children to be supportive of their occupiers.  A timeless cautionary tale.

 

   farewelltoarms

October 2012,   Farewell to Arms
Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield—weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.

 

 soundfuryfaulkner

June 2012,  The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

 
 rainbefore

May 2012,  The Rain Before it Falls    
The story of two cousins' friendship is keyed to a hatred that is handed down from mother to daughter across generations, as in a Greek tragedy. Evacuated from London to her aunt and uncle's Shropshire farm, Rosamond bonds with her older cousin, Beatrix, who is emotionally abused by her mother. Beatrix grows up to abuse her daughter Thea, with repercussions that reach the next generation. All of this is narrated in retrospect by an elderly Rosamond into a tape recorder: she is recording the family's history for Imogene, Beatrix's granddaughter, who is blind, and whom Rosamond hasn't seen in 20 years. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Rosamond's fundamental flaw and limit is her decency, a quality Coe weaves beautifully into the Shropshire and London settings—along with violence. Through relatively narrow lives on a narrow isle, Coe articulates a fierce, emotional current whose sweep catches the reader and doesn't let go until the very end.

 

 nemesisroth

April  2012:   Nemesis
The fourth in the great and undiminished Roth’s recent cycle of short novels follows Everyman (2006), Indignation (2008), and The Humbug (2009), and as exceptional as those novels are, this latest in the series far exceeds its predecessors in both emotion and intellect. In general terms, the novel is a staggering visit to a time and place when a monumental health crisis dominated the way people led their day-to-day lives. Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s (a common setting for this author) experienced, as the war in Europe was looking better for the Allies, a scare as deadly as warfare. The city has been hit by an epidemic of polio. Of course, at that time, how the disease spread and its cure were unknown. The city is in a panic, with residents so suspicious of other individuals and ethnic groups that emotions quickly escalate into hostility and even rage. Our hero, and he proves truly heroic, is Bucky Canter, playground director in the Jewish neighborhood of Newark. As the summer progresses, Bucky sees more and more of his teenage charges succumb to the disease. When an opportunity presents itself to leave the city for work in a Catskills summer camp, Bucky is torn between personal safety and personal duty. What happens is heartbreaking, but the joy of having met Bucky redeems any residual sadness.

 
 senseofanending

March 2012:   Sense of an Ending 
The story follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

 

nightfall   

February  2012,   By Nightfall 
Peter Harris, a dispirited Soho gallery owner in his midforties, arrives home to find his wife in the shower and marvels at how lithe she looks through the steam, then realizes that he’s admiring her much younger brother. Called the Mistake, or Mizzy, he’s a lost soul, a junkie and moocher as sexy as he is manipulative. Mizzy appears just as Peter, brooding, romantic, and self-deprecating, is grappling with his failings as a father and an art dealer.  Even if this mad infatuation stems from Peter’s deep grief for his brilliant and fearless gay brother, who died of AIDS. In his most concentrated novel, a bittersweet paean to human creativity and its particularly showy flourishing in hothouse Manhattan, virtuoso and Pulitzer winner Cunningham entwines eroticism with aesthetics to orchestrate a resonant crisis of the soul, drawing inspiration from Henry James and Thomas Mann as well as meditative painter Agnes Martin and provocateur artist Damien Hirst. The result is an exquisite, slyly witty, warmly philosophical, and urbanely eviscerating tale of the mysteries of beauty and desire, art and delusion, age and love.

 

balzac 

January 2012,   Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Two hapless city boys are exiled to a remote mountain village for re-education during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution. There the two friends meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, the two friends find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.

 

 welshgirlho

December, 2011,    Welsh Girl 
Esther, a WWII-era Welsh barmaid, finds her father provincial; she daydreams that she'll elope to London with her secret sweetheart, an English soldier. In short order, Esther is raped by her boyfriend, and her Welsh village is turned into a dumping ground for German prisoners. Meanwhile, Karsten, a German POW who is mortified that he'd ordered his men to surrender, believes that only by escaping can he find redemption. As Esther begins to question her own allegiances, Karsten comes into her orbit. What makes this first novel are the beautifully realized characters, who learn that life is a jumble of difficult compromises best confronted with eyes wide open.

 

 greatworld

November 2011,    Let the Great World Spin
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

 

 infidel

October 2011:   Infidel
Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries. In her twenties, she escaped a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim immigrant women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Even though she is under constant threat -- demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from her family and clan -- she refuses to be silenced.

 


powerofone

September 2011:   Power of One
In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.

 

 olive

June 2011:   Olive Kitteridge
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

 
 loveinthetime

May 2011,  Love in the time of Cholera
Nobel Prize-winning author Garcia Marquez’ evocation of unrequited passion so strong that it binds three people's lives together for more than fifty years. Florentino waits more than half a century to declare his love to Fermina, whom he lost to Dr. Juvenal Urbino so many years before. The author has created a vividly absorbing fictional world, as lush and dazzling as a dream and as real and immediate as our own deepest longings.

 
 bellcanto

April 2011:  Bel Canto
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers. --Harpers Collins Publishers

 
 raptureofcanaan

March 2011,  Rapture of Canaan
At the Church of Fire and Brimstone and Gods Almighty Baptizing Wind, Grandpa Herman makes the rules for everyone, and everyone obeys, or else. Try as she might, Ninah hasn't succeeded in resisting temptation her prayer partner, James and finds herself pregnant. She fears the wrath of Grandpa Herman, the congregation and of God Himself. But the events that follow show Ninah that Gods ways are more mysterious than even Grandpa Herman understands. --Penguin Group

 
 lovingfrank

February 2011:  Loving Frank fictional rendering of the affair between famed archetect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, Hounded by scandal-hungry press with tragic repercussions, Mamah pursued her love at great personal cost.

 
 mrsgreenville

January 2011:  The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
A gunshot one rainy night propels a high society family matriarch and her ‘commoner’ daughter-in-law into a conspiracy of silence that will bind them together for as long as they live.

 housekeeping

November 2010:   Housekeeping
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience. -Picador

 cutting

Sept 2010:   Cutting for Stone
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

 
 oldfilth

June 2010:   Old Filth

British novelist Gardam has twice won the Whitbread and was shortlisted for the Man Booker. This, her 15th novel, was shortlisted in Britain for the Orange Prize; it outlines 20th-century British history through the life of Sir Edward Feathers, a barrister whose acronymic nickname provides the title: "Failed in London, Try Hong Kong." At nearly 80, Feathers, retired in Dorset after many years as a respected Hong Kong judge, is a hollow man with few real friends and a cold, sexless marriage that has just ended with the death of his wife, Betty. For the first time, "Filth" (as even Betty called him) delves into the past that produced him

 
 lessonbd

May 2010,   A Lesson Before Dying
Gaines's first novel in a decade may be his crowning achievement. The story of two African American men struggling to attain manhood in a prejudiced society, the tale is set in Bayonne, La. (the fictional community Gaines has used previously) in the late 1940s. It concerns Jefferson, a mentally slow, barely literate young man, who, though an innocent bystander to a shootout between a white store owner and two black robbers, is convicted of murder, and the sophisticated, educated man who comes to his aid. Though the conclusion is inevitable, Gaines invests the story with emotional power and universal resonance.

 
 whitenoise

April 2010,  White Noise
Winner of the National Book Award, White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra¬modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an "airborne toxic event," a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the "white noise" engulfing the Gladneys-radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings-pulsing with life, yet suggesting something ominous. 

 
 colony

March 2010,   Colony of Unrequited Dreams
The Colony is the fictional biography of Joe Smallwood, one of Newfoundland's most controversial political figures, and focuses on his early years and arduous rise to power: union organizer, newspaperman, socialist turned liberal, and Newfoundland's first premier after confederation with Canada in 1949. Sweeping historical drama, hilarious satire, mystery--this story is big both in length and in scope. -Booklist

 





 

Meeting Times

Date: Every 3rd Thursday of the month
Time: 7 pm
Location: Sherborn Library
For more information email the reference librarian.