Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Meeting of February 26, 2018

We met this evening at Janet's home to discuss Carla's choice, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  Present were Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Shirley and Michèle via Skype from sunny Florida.  As the book is set in France, Janet had some wonderful French cheese, pâté, French wine and for dessert, tarte aux pommes with crème chantilly.

Everyone enjoyed The Nightingale. This is the second book we have read by Kristin Hannah, so those who would like some information on this author can click on the link.  This story is about two sisters in France during World War II and how each coped with the tragedy and events of war.  Vianne, married and living with her daughter in a small village while her husband is fighting endures the humiliation of Nazis living in her home and overtaking the village. Isabelle, the younger single sister who lives in Paris with her father, eventually finds her calling helping those of the resistance escape from France once they are denounced.

The character development of the two sisters is excellent.  We really get know each sister and understand in each of their circumstances how and why they react to events in their life.  Vianne, a mother, will do anything to protect her own child and finds a way to protect and keep her best friend Rachel's, son.  Though her sister Isabelle does not understand how Vianne can allow a Nazi to live under her roof, Vianne knows the consequences of refusing and finds ways to live with it and protect her daughter. She accepts the food and gifts from the first officer so her daughter can eat properly and she endures repetitive rape by the second officer to protect her daughter from the same fate.  Isabelle, younger more of a rebel and without the responsibilities of a family, finds a way to help her countrymen in the Résistence.

Many of us enjoy historical novels that allow us to learn and this novel packs it in. We learn about how the Nazis with the help of some French collaborators rounded up Jews not only in big cities such as Paris and Lyon but also in small villages.  Though we did learn about the the French fleeing Paris in Suite Française by Irène Nemirovsky, there are different aspects and details in this book. In All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr we learned about the Résistence and in The Nightingale, Isabelle's involvement gives us more information.   Kristin Hannah's research for this book was extensive.

Thank you Carla for choosing this book and Shirley for recommending it.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation - from Lincoln at the Bardo to Orphan Train

There are a surprisingly large number of books that the tragic death of a child is the catalyst for a story.  Muse & Views Book Club has not read Lincoln in the Bardo but over the years we have read several that include the tragic death of a child. Like one of our members said, there is a lot of sadness in this meme.

Beginning book – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders tells the story of tragedy, the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son and a spin into the supernatural.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – from the violent death of Susie Salmon, we learn how she died and the tragic effects on her family from her seat in heaven.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – The death of a child has an impact not only on parents but also on the surviving children.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – The discovery of the skeleton of a child in a hidden closet is the catalyst for this horror story coming from historical realities of World War II.

Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards – In this story the tragic accidental death of a child is a catalyst to the story of poverty, envy and hatred in a small town.

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton – the tragic accidental death of a child this time, reveals how idealism and unrealistic dreams of life on a farm takes a mother to the brink of depression and its tragic consequences on her life, her family and the community that has not accepted them in their fold.

Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline – Children finding themselves orphaned when poverty-stricken parents die of influenza and other epidemics, some taken by train towards western states and provinces to be adopted by farm families die of neglect or from violent encounters.

To see how others connected Lincoln in the Bardo to other titles, see Six Degrees of Separation