Friday, April 26, 2013

Meeting of April 22, 2013

We met at Colette's home with Jane hosting.  She offered wonderful cheese, sausage with chutney, small white onions, olives and french cornichons and a lovely chocolate mousse.  Present were Beth, Carla, Colette, Jane, Jolene, Linda, Michèle and Shirley.  We discussed Rules of Civility by Amor Towles presented by Michèle.

We welcomed back our "snow birds" Linda and Michèle who enjoyed the Florida sun for the last three months.

Michèle was very pleased that all enjoyed the book and found it to be a page turner!  The plot rolled along very well and we had a good feeling of the atmosphere of New York in the 1930's, the classes, how people dressed, restaurants, club such as the Russian jazz club.  With short descriptions such as katey's polka dot dress, the flapper coat that ended up Eve's closet, Towles manages to give us a picture of the styles from the era.  With just a couple of scenes of Katey meeting up with friends from her neighbourhood we get an impression of class difference.

Many thought the story had the flavour and atmosphere of books such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerlad, Breakfast at Tiffany's the novella by Truman Capote.  There was also reference to many books in the story.  Katey reads a lot of  Agatha Christie that pleased one of our members in particular and Tinker had a copy of Walden by David Thoreau at his cottage.

Several members felt that the characters were not particularly sympathetic.  Certainly Eve's character created tension in the story.   Many of us thought that Katey took advantage of opportunities she had to improve her social status. She aspired to belong to the "all American" Manhattan life.  Tinker Grey however, lived by the 110 Rules of Civility  written by George Washington.  It is the reason that he took care of Eve after the car accident.  It is interesting that the men such as Tinker Grey, Wallace, and the man Katey eventually marries, Val, are the only characters that give an impression of sincerity.

Everyone agreed that the story is about life choices we make that can easily change the course of our lives.  On his website, Mr. Towles in a reading guide asks the following question:
Please don't answer this last question until the wine glasses are empty and the waiters are waiting impatiently to clear your table: In the Epilogue, Katey observes that "Right choices are the means by which life crystallizes loss" What is the right choice that you have made and what did you leave behind as a result?
It is certainly worthwhile to consider the question and if any of you care to share, you may wish to add a comment.


  1. There are so many choices we make in our lifetime and some are good and some may not have had the impact we expected or hoped for. I have always believed however, that regretting a decision is not useful, you cannot go back and change a decision you can only continue forward and learn.

    Twice I chose to leave my career, once to stay home with my son and once to go back to school and travel. Both decisions had positive impacts on my personal life and my family's life. What did I leave behind, professional accomplishments and more money. However, what I gained in my relationship with my son and what I learned from my studies and travel have given me a richer life.

  2. Early in my teaching career I took a sabbatical to take my Masters, with the plan to continue my career in education. During that time I had the opportunity to run for politics and surprise, surprise at 26 years old was elected to Provincial politics! Fate brought me to the Federal political scene for the next 30+ years, leaving Sask. and making a new home in Ottawa. As Michele noted, it certainly wasn't for the money, but I was rewarded with many life-changing experiences,and met many people across Canada and other parts of the world. Through Kiwanis I started my volunterism in community service, and met my husband. It was during this time I also was a founding member of this book club meeting an exceptional group of ladies. Throughout all my life I have been fortunate to have developed many long-time friendships that get you through the good and bad times. Live every day to the fullest!

  3. At the end of grade 13, I chose to embrace faith in a personal way, having been mentored by a wonderful English teacher who encouraged debate and critical thinking. She also believed that a decision about faith was the most important one a person could make in life, and the 2nd most important one was in choosing a life partner. I have been blessed with in both areas, and life would have been very different if I had taken a different fork in the road.

    Like "anonymous" above, another wonderful decision has been becoming part of Muse and Views, who also encourage debate and critical thinking. My love of English, so important to my high school mentor, has continued, partially as a result of the book club, and the friendships there are wonderful.


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