Thursday, December 6, 2018

Meeting of November 26th, 2018

Our November meeting was hosted by Beth at her home. Present were, Beth, Betty, Colette, Janet, Linda, Michèle and Shirley.  Beth had a nice array of cheese, devilled eggs and nuts.  She served us a wonderful Apple Crisp for dessert and of course wine and tea were also offered.

This month's book presented by Shirley was A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles.  This is the second book we have read from this author, the first being Rules of Civility.  Mr. Towles is an American author and graduate of Yale and Stanford University.  He work as an investment professional for over 20 years and now writes full time.

A Gentleman in Moscow recounts the life of a young Count Alexander Rostov who in 1922 is placed under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, a large grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.  For 32 years we learn how he copes with life within the hotel, we meet the friends he makes, the women who have shaped his life and how he grows emotionally and intellectually.

All our members enjoyed the book.  It was an interesting premise, everything happening within the walls of the Metropol Hotel.  The character development and relationship development between the Count and members of the staff and some hotel guests was very interesting.  It was interesting to see how they evolved.

Hotel living is a world in itself, you learn who the staff are and who does what. You learn who the long term guests are and regular visitors to the restaurant. The Count enjoyed the food and wine and the people, he enjoyed working in the restaurant and used his skills to deter conflicts between clients.

We delighted in his relationship with the young Nina that he ends up raising.  Together they explore the hotel and he teaches her about art, history and life.  We wonder how his relationship with the actress Anna will develop.

Many enjoyed the storyline, long and very detailed, descriptions painted beautiful pictures of the Count's surrounding and the people he met and his friends.  The end was well plotted, a bit of a countdown and charming in the way it unfolded.  When he goes home at the end, he knows it won't be the same and he accepts the changes.

Thank you to Shirley for the book choice.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation from A Christmas Carol to Anne of Green Gables

A Christmas Carol

 Skipping Christmas A Painted House The Secret Life of Bees
 To Kill a Mockingbird Snow Falling on Cedars Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

December and tis the season, so this month’s six degrees starter book is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, a classic with Ebenezer Scrooge who sees Christmas only as a day of business lost. As Scrooge is shown past and future Christmases, he soon realizes that Christmas is a time to give and receive. 

The easiest link is of course in the title, so we go to Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, a departure from his usual legal crime fiction stories. Luke and Nora Krank decide to spend Christmas in the Caribbean Islands and skip Christmas. Their daughter will not be home and not having to put up all the outdoor decorations or spend money on gifts and food is very tempting. Like Scrooge, they are ‘persuaded’ to change their mind when neighbours protest the lack of decorations and daughter shows up! 

It turns out John Grisham wrote more than one book that is not a legal crime fiction. A Painted House, a story about the hardship of farming in Arkansas and told through the eyes of a young smart seven-year-old boy is riveting. He witnesses murder, crime, birth and fear.

Continuing with another book seen through the eyes of a child, 14-year-old Lily, is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It is summer in southern USA and Lily is a witness to crime, hate, prejudice and fear. 

Again, we are in southern USA and through the eyes of a child we have the classic story To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout, the daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch who defends a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman, witnesses hate, prejudice and poverty.

Going to the other side of the country, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is set in a tiny fishing community on the island of San Piedro. We are witness to prejudice and discrimination again but this time against the Japanese community. A murder brings out the animosity between the American-Japanese community and the Anglo-American community.

Finally leaving the serious subjects of prejudice, crime and court room drama, our last link literally ‘floats’, from San Piedro Island on the west coast of North America to Prince Edward Island on the east coast of North America where the wonderful Canadian novel, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is set. 

So again Muse & Views Book Club has linked books read by our Club over the last 20 years to complete this Six Degrees from a December theme of Christmas to serious books set in the south USA and then from the west coast to the east coast of our vast North American Continent. Happy Holidays everyone.

If you wish to see how other participants have connected the dots, go to Six Degrees of Separation .