Saturday, November 2, 2019

Books and Meetings 2020

This list will be updated as members choose their books.

Monday January 27th - Carla's choice, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Marg hosting.

Monday February 24th -  Betty's choice, Educated by Tara Westover, Janet hosting.

Monday March 23rd - Janet's choice, Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie, Carla hosting.

Monday April 27th -  Marg's choice, Jane hosting.

Monday May 25th -  Linda's choice, The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman, Shirley hosting.

Monday June 22nd - Beth's choice, Linda hosting.

Monday September 28th - Colette's choice, Michèle hosting

Monday October 26th - Jane's choice,  Betty hosting

Monday November 23rd - Shirley's choice, Beth hosting.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Meeting of October 28, 2019

Our October meeting was hosted by Shirley. Present were Betty, Colette, Jane, Janet, Linda, Marg, Michèle and of course, Shirley.  As usual we ate very well. Shirley presented us with a menu inspired by the three sisters of the Fall Harvest,  pickled green beans enrobed in prosciutto, a wonderful corn and cheese dip with corn chips, and for dessert, a pumpkin (squash) & carrot cake with a divine cream cheese icing!  Of course wine and tea were also served.

This month we discussed Jane's book choice Starlight by Richard Wagamese.  He was a Canadian Ojibwe author and journalist.  He wrote several novels and books that could be considered as memoirs or books reflecting on life.  His most noted novel is Indian Horse which was adapted to film.  Starlight was his last novel, a continuation of Medicine Walk that we read in 2014.  Richard Wagamese died in March 2017 before finishing Starlight. His literary agent and the publisher McLelland & Stewart, opted to publish with little editing and as is unfinished,  the story ends abruptly, letting the reader wondering what happened.

As Medicine Walk, everyone loved the book.  We found his writing poetic, descriptive and strangely calming and touching.  Many of us did not want the book to end, slowing our reading down so it would last longer.  A continuation of Medicine Walk, the old man has died and left his farm to the young boy he raised, Frank Starlight.  Frank has hired a man, Roth, to help on the farm and they become friends.  We meet Emmy and her daughter Winnie when Frank rescues them in town and brings them home to live with him.

Frank has become a well-known photographer. At the beginning of the book he describes Frank Starlight's night outing to photograph a pack of wolves.  His description of Frank running with the wolves leaves us breathless.
He ran easily. Like a wolf. He bent closer to the ground and loped, the slide of his feet skimming through the low-lying brush without a sound, and when he found the pace of the pack he angled off through the trees and took a parallel tack to them, keep them on his right and dodging the pine and spruce easily, his night eyes sharpened by use. He ran with them, the scuttling pace easy after the first three hundred yards. (page17)
The main characters, Frank himself who we knew from Medicine Walk, Emmy and Roth are well developed, we easily understand the relationship between them.  Cadotte, the man Emmy was running from gives us shivers, "He was a brute and he simmered in a palpable silence and stillness that could fill a room with its sweeping malevolence." (page 11)

None of us found the abrupt ending disappointing.  We could each of us, imagine how it ended and thinking back to Mr. Wagamese's other novels, it is likely that the story ended well.  We are all sad that no other novels will come from this wonderful storyteller and writer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Macmillan Publishers embargo on eBooks

In response to recent coverage of Macmillan Publishers eBook embargo for libraries, it’s important to recognize the impact on libraries like ours, the Ottawa Public Library, which serves almost 238,000 active members in our community. 

Digital content is fast becoming the preferred - or only - access to books for many readers. A single copy of a new title in eBook format for a period of two months is not sufficient nor is it acceptable. In some instances, this embargo will force readers to wait a year or more to borrow an eBook.  

Readers and other Book Clubs are invited to join us in urging Macmillan to reverse their new policy by joining the #eBooksForAll campaign.  Visit to ensure access to information and content for all here in the Ottawa area.
Libraries bring together authors, publishers, teachers, and readers for the purpose of boosting knowledge, creativity, literacy, ideas, and imagination.  We need more people reading, not barriers that limit access. 
Muse & Views BookClub

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Meeting of September 23rd 2019

Our September meeting was hosted by Linda. We spent a wonderful half hour catching up on our activities over the summer. Present were Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette, Janet, Linda, Marg, Michèle and Shirley.  There was a nice variety of cheese, sausage and crackers along with of course, wine, coffee and tea and Linda had two types of cheesecake!

This month we discussed Colette's book choice, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, a classic detective mystery. Dashiell Hammett is often considered as the "dean" of hard-boiled detective fiction. He began writing when he worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.  He wrote not only novels, but also short stories and was a screenwriter.  He was a political activist and did prison time for refusing to name members of the communist party.

Most members enjoyed the book.  The Maltese Falcon was originally published as a serial in the magazine The Black Mask.  Sam Spade the main character and detective re-appeared in lesser known novels but became well known when the movie came out and Humphrey Bogart played Sam Spade. The style of the book read very much like a a script.  There is considerable description of the environment, what rooms look like, the style of a car, the clothes characters wore, how they held a cigarette, how they wore a hat.  There is very little about the thoughts or emotions of the characters themselves.

A couple of our members did not enjoy the book as much and though it was published in 1931, felt that women were type cast and not at all equal to the male characters.

Members however, appreciated reading a classic detective story giving us some context for more modern novels of the same nature.  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from Three Women to Blood Letting and Miraculous Cures

Three Women 
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Far From the Madding Crowd The Woman in White Perfume: The Story of a Murderer The High Mountains of Portugal Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Starter Book – Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is the true story of the sex lives of three American women within long-term and short-term relationships, some as short as one night of passion.

Our first link will have to be Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray. This is a non-fiction account of how women and men view relationships (very differently) and the importance of sex in a relationship. 

If we continue on the theme of sexual relationships, we find a classic, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a woman farmer, and the three suitors she attracts from neighbouring estates and villages – the farmer, the soldier and the devoted shepherd. Hardy describes the rural life and passionate sexual relationships between Miss Everdene and her suitors.

Going from a very modern book, to a ‘guide on relationships’, to a classic, we stick with classics and link next with The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, a classic gothic horror story, including madness and intrigue.

Many who have read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind see it also as a horror story and a descent into madness. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born in the slums of Paris with the gift of a sublime sense of smell. As he learns the trade of perfumer he becomes obsessed in finding the ‘ultimate perfume’ created from the scent of a young virgin. Perfume can be seen as a story far from reality - Grenouille was born under a stall at a market, spent part of his life in a cave in France’s deserted Cévennes region, then his search and obsession for the ultimate scent. 

Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal with three incredulous stories is also far from reality. Three linked stories, each told separately almost like novellas, take us through Portugal in the 1930’s to modern day Portugal in the 1980’s. Written as fables, you must suspend your search for logic and reality to fully appreciate these stories.

Going to another book of linked stories, this one well grounded in reality, is Vincent Lam’s Blood Letting and Miraculous Cures which takes the reader through twelve interconnected stories following four young doctors through the challenges of medical school and the world of practice and hospitals.

This meme has been quite a challenge since the list of books read by Muse & Views Book Club that have not been used is getting shorter and shorter! 

If you would like to see how others have composed the Six Degrees go to Books are my Favourite .

Friday, September 6, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from A Gentleman in Moscow to A Widow for One Year

A Gentleman in Moscow

 An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth Flee, Fly, Flown The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, #2)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont A Widow for One Year

This month’s starter book, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, was read in 2018 by our Muse and Views Book Club and was declared the favourite of the year. The book tells the story of an aristocrat, Count Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel across the square from the Kremlin. The Count’s life changes drastically as he now lives in an attic room with limited resources and limited entertainments. He proves up to the task and with astounding ingenuity becomes fully integrated in the workings of the hotel.

So with the thought of ‘ingenuity’ in mind, we first link to a very Canadian book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me about Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Colonel Chris Hatfield. In this first-person account of becoming an astronaut, Hatfield explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness.

So perhaps we can stick with a bit of the unconventional as well as a bit of ingenuity with our next link of Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn. This is the story of two funny, brave women, Lillian and Audrey, as they hatch a plot to escape from the Tranquil Meadows Nursing Home. As both ladies are beginning to have memory problems, the mental contortions necessary to make their escape are definitely entertaining.

Another book that entails some mental contortions was The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion. This book is a follow-on to The Rosie Project and once again we find Don Tilman wrestling with life as he sees it through the eyes of someone with Aspergers Syndrome. As Rosie is now pregnant, Don has a lot to process in his own, somewhat unconventional way.

The relationship of Don and Rosie bring to mind that of Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali in Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonsson. Major Pettigrew is the quintessential Englishman who believes in honour, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea while Mrs. Ali will always be viewed by the community as the foreigner. They were brought together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more.

In Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, the recently widowed Mrs. Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Along with her eccentric and endlessly curious fellow residents, they fight off their twin enemies - boredom and the Grim Reaper. Then one day Mrs. Palfrey strikes up an unexpected friendship with Ludo, a handsome young writer, and learns that even the old can fall in love.

And for our last link, we go to A Widow for One Year by John Irving. This a multilayered love story of astonishing emotional force about the passage of time and the relentlessness of grief.

Our links have passed from ingenuity to mental gymnastics to falling in love and the passage of time, all with books read by the Muse and Views Book Club since 1998. A Widow for One Year was the first book read by the group.

If you would like to see how others have composed their Six Degrees, go to Books are My Favourite

Friday, August 2, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from Family Matters to Call the Midwife

Family Matters

Such a Long Journey The City of Joy. Dominique Lapierre The Poisonwood Bible
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots The Red Tent Call the Midwife (The Midwife Trilogy, #1)

We begin this month where we finished the July Six Degrees of Separation with Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry. In this book, the main character, Nariman Vakeel, already suffering from Parkinson’s disease, breaks an ankle and finds himself wholly dependent on his family. The decisions made by each of the family members test tolerance, compassion, integrity and faith.

The easiest link is to another book by the same author, so we go to Such a Long Journey which was Rohinton Mistry’s first novel published in 1991. He had previously published a book of short stories in 1989. It is the story of a family man who struggles to keep his family out of poverty during political turmoil in India. Trying to find ways to keep his family together he finds himself drawn into government corruption. 

Staying in the same country City of Joy written by Dominique Lapierre takes place in the slums of Calcutta. In this book, a young Polish priest lives as a missionary with the people of the slums, a farmer and his family who move to Calcutta for a better life after their farm is ruined by drought, a young American doctor comes to the City of Joy to save as many lives as possible and local residents of the slums sacrifice everything to help the priest and the doctor.

If we concentrate on the religious mission, we can go to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This is the story of an evangelical Baptist Nathan Price who takes his family on a mission in the Belgian Congo. 

Nathan Price in The Poisonwood Bible tries to rule his family of daughters with religious fervour. We find a similar atmosphere in the memoir of a young woman trapped in the traditions of the sect of Hasidic Judaism in Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman.

Staying with the religious theme and the struggles of women in religious fervour, we can leap to The Red Tent by Anita Diamant that chronicles the story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and his four wives. Dinah is supported and loved by Jacob’s four wives as they sustain her through her hard-working youth. It is a different and enlightened look at the biblical women’s society.

Dinah, in The Red Tent follows her calling into midwifery. So our last link can be to Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. This popular story is of a young trainee midwife in London in the 1950’s. It became a popular BBC television series. 

Beginning in India and going to Africa, America, the Bible and finishing in England we have travelled the world in this month’s Six Degrees, all books read by the Muse & Views Book Club.

If you would like to see the Six Degrees meme go to Kate W's blog . 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Meeting of June 24th, 2019

The June meeting was hosted by Michèle.  Present were Beth, Betty, Colette, Jane, Janet, Linda, Shirley, Marg and Michèle.  Spicy cold cuts, cheese, a fig and walnut spread were served and Michèle made hot cross buns as was served at the family picnic in the novel.  Of course wine, coffee and tea were also offered.

We discussed Linda's book choice Requiem by Frances Itani.  Our meeting began with a FaceTime session with Ms. Itani who lives in Ottawa.  We had a wonderful discussion with her about the research she did for this book.  We were surprised to learn that she interviewed several Japanese Canadians who were forced to leave their homes and businesses on the British Columbia coast but she did not interview her husband's family.  Ms Itani does not allow anyone to read her books until they are sent to her editor.  Walking around her office with her computer she showed us the project boards of the two books that she is presently writing, not enough for us to see much about the books. She did tell us that one is an historical novel and the other is set in the present.  We are looking forward to reading her new books!

We asked why she had chosen Beethoven's music for the novel and she told us she had discussed it with her son who is a member of the Danish Symphony Orchestra.  Since the Japanese internment into camps was complete chaos, the loss of their homes and businesses, the lack of proper shelter in the camps, her son felt that Beethoven music was the best choice.

After our discussion with Ms Itani we shared our opinions of the novel Requiem.  It was well loved. Everyone enjoyed the book and as her other books that we have read, the writing is beautiful.  Itani's descriptions of the camps and how the people coped and survived is very visual. It is easy to imagine the shacks that they built, how they filled in the cracks, the gardens they created to help feed themselves and to give the community some revenue.  The community spirit that lived within the confines of the camp was palatable in her descriptions.

 The main character Bin Okuma is an artist with a love of classical music, especially Beethoven.  After the sudden death of his wife Lena, he decides to drive out to British Columbia to visit the site of the internment camp where he spent a part of his childhood and to visit "first father" with whom he has had little contact since his childhood in the camps.  As he drives, his thoughts go from his childhood in the camp and his life once they are freed with Okuma-san his second father and his adult life as an artist with Lena and their son Greg.  Even though the story alternates from the time period of the camps to the present, it is easy to follow.  The descriptions of the life in the camps are Bin's memories flooding back into his mind as he drives towards the site of the camps and the reunion with "first father".  It is a well crafted book, well worth the read.

Thank you Linda for this wonderful choice.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from Where the Wild Things Are to Family Matters

19543 The Tao of Pooh Pigs in Heaven (Greer Family, #2) The Bean Trees (Greer Family, #1) A Recipe for Bees Bee Season Family Matters

The starter book for July 2019 is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This is a favourite book for many children who see themselves in Max, the ‘Wild Thing’; however, like many children’s stories, there is a lesson to be learned. Home is where someone loves you best of all.

Our first link is to The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. In this book, we enter the enchanting world of Winnie the Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

From bears to pigs, we now link to Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven. This is the story of Taylor Greer and her adopted six-year-old daughter, Turtle. The pair embark on a road trip from rural Kentucky and the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind.

Our next link is to another Barbara Kingsolver book, The Bean Trees. This was a bit of a cheat because this is the prequel to the previous book where we are introduced to the main characters. It is the story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

From beans to bees, for our fourth link we go to A Recipe for Bees by Gail Andeerson-Dargatz. This story is saturated with bee lore, and is full of rich domestic detail, wondrous imagery culled from rural kitchens and gardens, shining insights into ageing, family and friendship. And, at its heart, is the life, death and resurrection of an extraordinary marriage.

Keeping with bees, this time we link to Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. This is the story of nine-year-old Eliza's journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza's small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt. Not merely a coming-of-age story, the novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family.

For our final link, we go to Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters. The main character, Nariman Vakeel, already suffering from Parkinson’s disease, breaks an ankle and finds himself wholly dependent on his family. The decisions made by each of the family members test tolerance, compassion, integrity and faith.

And so we have gone from Where the Wild Things Are to Family Matters. Each of the connecting books examines some aspect of family.

It is summer here and the heat is definitely here! If you wish to see how others connected to the starter book go to Six Degrees of Separation.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Meeting of May 27th 2019

Our May meeting was hosted by Betty.  Present were Betty, Carla, Colette, Jane, Linda, Marg, Michèle and Shirley.  Betty served a nice array of cheese and crackers, olives, pepperettes and of course wine, coffee and tea.

We discussed Carla's book choice, a memoir, Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris.  Ms. Harris is a young Canadian writer and "wanderer" as she calls herself.  She is originally from Ontario and presently lives off the grid on the border between the Yukon and British Columbia.  She studied sciences and the history of science in Canada, Great Britain as a Rhodes Scholar and in the United States.  She abandoned her Ph.D. studies at M.I.T. to cycle the Silk Road with a childhood friend Mel Yule. The book chronicles their voyage that lasted almost a year.  Beginning in Turkey they travelled through Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, Nepal and India.  At the beginning of the book she describes her childhood with her family and her goal to eventually visit Mars.  She is well read, quotes philosophers and well-known writers and historians.

She received many honours and prizes for Lands of Lost Borders including the most prestigious Canadian prize for non-fiction the RBC-Taylor Prize in 2019.  She was a Rhodes scholar and a recipient of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, an American version of the Rhodes Scholarship.

The reviews were definitely mixed.  Many found that her writing, descriptions and stories of this adventure were very introspective.  She wrote a lot about how she felt, how she experienced the journey.  Though she rode with her childhood friend Mel Yule, we do not come to know Mel well.  She does not go into great detail in describing the families that helped them along the way, those who allowed them to pitch their tent on their property or actually sleep and eat with them.

However her descriptions of how she lived this adventure, her descriptions of the terrain, the problems they encountered are very vivid and easy to understand.  Certainly for us as women of a certain age and family status, the adventures she described and her enthusiasm for them is very foreign to us.  Not many if any of us have dreamt of an adventure of this magnitude!

There are lots of photos and videos on her website Kate Harris that help us visualize what she described.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from Murmur to A Good House


Us Conductors The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1) The Best Laid Plans
Whelan : the man in the green stetson : Whelan, Eugene F., 1924- : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive  Waiting for Time (Random Passage, #2) A Good House

Starter Book – Murmur by Will Eaves. This is published as a novel; however it is based on the life of Alan Turing the English mathematician, computer scientist, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist, amongst other careers. He was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science and he worked with the British government during World War II.

Our first link is to Us Conductors by Sean Michaels, a novel based on the life of Lev Termen, the Russian scientist, inventor and spy who invented the musical instrument, the theremin. As Alan Turing did for Great Britain, Termen worked for his government, Russia, during WW II. We also learn of his love interest and yearning for a normal life.

Staying with highly educated men, let’s turn to The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a novel again but this time based solely on a fictional character. Professor of Genetics, Don Tillman sets out to find the perfect partner and creates the Wife Project in an evidence-based manner. The story is highly entertaining and very funny.

Moving on with a highly entertaining book and plans, we go to The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. This is a humorous story about a political aide who must find a last-minute candidate for a Canadian election in a riding that is not apparently winnable. He bargains with an engineering professor, convincing him to file candidate papers by agreeing to teach in his place,  the required introductory English class to first year engineering students. The story is based in a small town just east of the Canadian capital of Ottawa. 

Now that we are immersed in Canadian politics we can now link to the autobiography of a former Canadian politician who was a Member of Parliament and a Senator, Whelan: The Man in the Green Stetson by the Honourable Eugene Whalen.

So away from politics but staying in Canada, we go to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to find Newfoundlander author Bernice Morgan’s beautifully written story Waiting for Time, the continuing story from her first novel Random Passage about the Andrews family forced to flee from England to find themselves on the forbidding shores of Newfoundland. 

Waiting for Time is a family story told over several years, we can then connect next to A Good House by Bonnie Burnard. This chronicles 50 years of an ordinary family, the Chambers, living in Ontario, through the joys, tragedies and disappointments of their lives.  

With the exception of The Rosie Project, we have used books written by Canadian authors and books read by Muse & Views Book Club over the last 21 years. 

If you wish to see what others connected to the starter book go to Six Degrees of Separation. and read  first of all, the meme that our fearless leader Kate has written and others posted in the comments.  

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Meeting of April 29, 2019

If Beale Street Could Talk

Our April meeting was hosted by Jane.  Present were Beth, Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Linda, Michèle and Shirley.  Jane had a very nice variety of cheeses, parmesan crusted cold cuts, her great pickled veggies and baguette stuffed with olives.  In honour of Tish's given name, Jane made a Clementine cake that was quite wonderful.  As usual red and white wine was served and tea.  

We discussed Beth's book choice If Beale Street Could Talk written by the American author James Baldwin.  Mr. Baldwin, having had a difficult childhood growing up in Harlem with a demanding step-father and multiple siblings escaped his family life when he could, going to Greenwich Village where he met artists and writers.  He wrote several short stories and published his first book Go Tell it on the Mountain in 1953 when he was 29 years old.  This first book was semi-autobiographical and referred to religion and life as a black person in Harlem.  Mr. Baldwin published over 20 books, novels, essays and plays,  He was also well known as an activist travelling back to the United States from France where he lived for several years, to participate in activities of the civil rights movement.  He was well known and considered an important American author.

If Beale Street Could Talk was published in 1974 and is the love story of Fonny and Tish. Fonny is falsely accused of rape and finds himself in jail as Tish waits for the birth of their first child.  Strong family ties and the love between the young couple and their family allow them to survive even though racism flourishes in New York and leaves Fonny jailed and his family desperately trying to find hard, believable evidence to free him.  There is despair and rage in the writing of this novel but there is also love and hope.

Everyone liked this book, found the story beautiful but emotionally raw.  Many found that the story tore at their soul, showed us how injustice was prevalent in the U.S. and still is.  We also discussed how, though more hidden and less reported, such injustices existed in our own country, notably in Nova Scotia's Africville in the 1900's and now in many areas of our large cities such as Toronto.  We also talked about the injustices towards our own indigenous people.

The ending is ambiguous.  We are not sure if Fonny is set free or has to stay in jail.  It is an ambiguity that mirrors life in the black community.

Thank you Beth for a great book choice that brought a lot of discussion and reflection.  We also talked about the differences between the book and the movie that came out in 2018. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from The Dry to Rebecca's Tale

The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1)

 Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1) Still Alice  Wide Sargasso Sea
Jane Eyre Rebecca Rebecca's Tale
This is our 24th participation in the Six Degrees of Separation hosted by Kate at “booksaremy favouriteandbest” blog. It has been enjoyable and sometimes challenging! More often than not, the Muse & Views Book Club has not read the starter book, as is the case again this month, but that has not stopped us from taking up the challenge to link to a book that our club has read.

The Dry by Jane Harper is her debut novel, a mystery with police investigator Aaron Falk returning to old stomping grounds. Our first reaction this month was that Muse & Views Book Club has not read many mysteries. However, the first to come to mind is Still Life by famed Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny. As it happens, it was also a debut novel for Ms. Penny and several more mysteries have followed with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Ms. Penny is a favourite author and friend of the former American President Bill Clinton and his equally famous wife Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The next connection by similar title is to Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, though the word ‘still’ has a very different meaning. It is the moving story of a University professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s. Though this tragic novel is not a mystery, the mysteries of such a terrible disease are evident in this novel.

Going back to a ‘real’ mystery, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys tells the story of the mysterious person in the attic from a classic novel of the 19th century. She reveals to us why the young Antoinette Cosway, Edward Rochester’s wife, became the “mad woman” of such a classic and famous novel.

So, you will certainly have guessed that our next connection is to that classic Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Brontë. Jane, hired by Mr. Rochester to care for the young Adèle, falls in love with Edward. She wonders about the mysteries of Thornfield Hall, the strange noises at night, the screams. It is not just a love story but also very much a mystery.

Staying with a classic novel, though more modern, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has a similar theme of a young orphaned woman involved, in this case married with an older man, living on the large English estate of Manderley. When she arrives with her new husband, she finds that her husband’s late wife’s shadow is everywhere. Rebecca is considered a gothic novel but there are mysteries that scare Rebecca and the reader!

While Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel to Jane Eyre and we now go to a sequel to Rebecca with the novel Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman. This novel, set 20 years after Manderley Estate burns to the ground, is a true mystery as a young scholar, Terrence Gray, searches for the truth behind Rebecca’s mysterious death.

We have gone from a true mystery debut novel The Dry to a super Canadian debut mystery novel Still Life, deviating to a tragic story of an illness and back to mysteries in classic novels.  All books have been read by the Muse and Views Book Club. How long will we be able to last? See you next month.

If you wish to see how others have linked their books beginning with The Dry,  go to Six Degrees of Separation

Friday, April 5, 2019

Six Degrees of Separation from How to be Both to Tuesdays with Morrie

How to Be Both 

Annabel The Shipping News The Light Between Oceans
Where the River Ends Twelve Golden Threads: Lessons for Successful Living from Grama's Quilt Tuesdays with Morrie

This month’s starter book is How to be Both by Ali Smith, a story told two ways in two different time periods. This is not a book any of our club members is familiar with so going from Goodreads reviews and descriptions we find that it is of the interplay of life and art, how we tell stories and create art, gender and sexuality, and how past decisions affect the present.

The book description brought to mind Annabel by Kathleen Winter. The story, set in Newfoundland and Labrador on Canada’s far east coast, is of the dual identity of the main character, a mixed-gendered child who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. The mother makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, while continuing to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as ‘Annabel’ is never entirely extinguished.

In Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer prize-winning book, The Shipping News, when Quoyle's two-timing wife meets her just deserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on Newfoundland’s rocky coast. As Quoyle confronts his private demons and past decisions, he begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery.

For our next link we go with M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans. Set in 1918 Australia, it is the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.

Once again, a story of life decisions in Charles Martin’s Where the River Ends, the idyllic life of fishing guide and artist, Doss, and his beautiful model wife, Abigail, is tested when she is diagnosed with cancer. Abbie makes a list of ten things she wants to accomplish before she loses her battle. The most daring on her list is a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River, a trip down the river that had such an influence on her husband growing up.

In Aliske Webb’s book, Twelve Golden Threads: Lessons for Successful Living from Grama’s Quilt, we once again find the interplay of life and art. The grandmother who, while teaching her two granddaughters the basics of the art of quilting, passes on the wisdom of traditional truths necessary for a meaningful life.

And life lessons are the mainstay in Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. Here the author chronicles his own interactions with his mentor and professor, Morrie Schwartz. As Morrie faces his final days fighting ALS, Mitch visits him every Tuesday when they take time to discuss life, aging, love and death.

Life lessons and life-changing decisions has been the principal link to take us this month from How to be Both to Tuesdays with Morrie.

To see what others have submitted go to this link Six Degrees of Separation Enjoy!