Friday, August 29, 2008

My Book Club Thoughts....

My late month book club chose, Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh. A short synopsis:

Bakerton is a community of company houses and church festivals, of union squabbles and firemen's parades. Its neighborhoods include Little Italy, Swedetown, and Polish Hill. For its tight-knit citizens -- and the five children of the Novak family -- the 1940s will be a decade of excitement, tragedy, and stunning change. Baker Towers is a family saga and a love story, a hymn to a time and place long gone, to America's industrial past, and to the men and women we now call the Greatest Generation. It is a feat of imagination from an extraordinary voice in American fiction, a writer of enormous power and skill.

Did I ever tell you that I went to school in an old mining town? Sadly, fifty years after the last coal was removed from the area, and the town was still effected by the loss of that industry. However, this story had more to it than just the mining town. It focused on the Novak children. Like my Grandmother used to say of her own children, “No two were alike, just like her fingers.” (So you are bound to find one that you relate to or at least find interesting.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. To be honest, I almost missed how much I enjoyed this book (thank goodness for the book club!), because I enjoyed the next book so much!

Peony in Love by Lisa See has the privilege of being my first audio book. I actually shamefully picked it up because someone at early month book club recommended it, but it was also the cheapest one that I could find. Yes, I know – but I didn’t know if I would enjoy an audio book. It felt like a stretch.

After the first CD, I was hooked and remembered why I was a history major. I love stories, especially when they are shared orally!

A short synopsis:

“In Peony in Love the opera The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu, The Three Wives' Commentary on The Peony Pavilion [1], and the theme of love all play important roles. Of the latter, See has said: "I wanted to explore different aspects of love: gratitude love, pity love, respectful love, romantic love, sexual love, sacrificing love, duty love, and finally mother love". [2] See also states that The Three Wives' Commentary had a special influence on her as she researched the large amount of writing done by Chinese women in the 17th century, most of it largely unknown today. "Then I came across The Three Wives' Commentary -- the first book of its kind to have been published anywhere in the world to have been written by women -- three wives, no less. With that, my interest turned into an obsession". [3] The three wives of Wu Ren in the novel -- Chen Tong (Peony), Tan Ze, and Qian Yi were, in fact, the real women who wrote The Three Wives' Commentary. [4]”

The story is beautiful. In the beginning you are introduced to Peony a teenage betrothed girl turning 16 in 16th century China. She is cloistered and the only child of a first wife. Peony is adored by her parents, and is granted privileges by her father that are not socially acceptable. For example, he allows for a play to be performed for Peony’s 16th birthday. A forbidden affair, since unrelated men will be present. From there Peony, well a lot happens and we see her life unfold. It truly is beautiful. I maybe one of the best stories that I’ve heard in many – many - many years.

What is next? Actually “In Defense of Food” by Michael Poulton. Very interesting so far. Also, a book on McCain and another on Obama. Yes, my book club decided they wanted to learn a bit more about the pair of Presidential candidates.

Should be interesting :).


Anonymous said...

My library book club read Baker Towers last fall. A lot of the retired or elderly group members especially enjoyed it -- it brought back lots of memories and nostalgia.

Kir said...

ooh, I am going to Am*a*zon to get both, the car ride gives me time to get "lost" for a while.