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