Friday, November 5, 2010
Meeting of October 25, 2010
Our Muses & Views Book Club met at Colette's home to discuss Carla's choice The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Benyon Rees. Present were Betty, Carla, Colette, Jane, Jolene, Linda, Michèle and Shirley. Colette Colette prepared wonderful mini-quiches, humus with vegetables and wonderful cheese blintze with blueberry sauce.
We were quite divided in our opinions of this book. Some found it an interesting and intriguing murder mystery and some of us found it rather boring.
In the preface of the book, the author essentially says "All crimes in this book are based on real events in Bethlehem. Though identities and some circumstances have been changed, the killers really kill this way, and those who died are dead just the same." So the author gives us right away, an impression of despair and gloom. From the descriptions, we get the impression of corruption and constant fighting not just between the Palestinians and Israel but also between factions within Bethlehem. The general population is just trying to continue with their lives, heads down. The author gives a very effective description of life for the residents of Bethlehem. The story quite effectively shows the impact of raising one's head in an atmosphere such as reigns in Bethlehem when Omar Yussef, the quiet teacher decides to find out who murdered his christian friend George. Everyone he speaks to is affected.
As it is in Palestinian families, the men are the more important characters in this book, there is little development of women characters such as Omar's wife, his young former female student or George's wife. The fighting is amongst the men and the women work to try, despite the turmoil, to raise their children and care for their household. It is a bleak story.
Colette invited her friend René who worked at the Canadian Embassy in Israel to come to speak to us about Israel. He presented a very interesting slide show and his comments helped us understand the atmosphere in the region, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Thank you to René and to Colette for inviting him.