Shelley Macbeth at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate booksellers I’ve had the honour of meeting. They planned an author talk and book signing and it was one of the most successful events I have ever done. And I’ve done over 300 events! A truly amazing bookstore. —
Book Club Pick for March – The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
March 20th 6:30pm dinner, 7:30pm discussion
Doris Lessing’s contemporary gothic horror story—centered on the birth of a baby who seems less than human—probes society’s unwillingness to recognize its own brutality.Harriet and David Lovatt, parents of four children, have created an idyll of domestic bliss in defiance of the social trends of late 1960s England. While around them crime and unrest surge, the Lovatts are certain that their old-fashioned contentment can protect them from the world outside—until the birth of their fifth baby. Gruesomely goblin-like in appearance, insatiably hungry, abnormally strong and violent, Ben has nothing innocent or infant-like about him. As he grows older and more terrifying, Harriet finds she cannot love him, David cannot bring himself to touch him, and their four older children are afraid of him. Understanding that he will never be accepted anywhere, Harriet and David are torn between their instincts as parents and their shocked reaction to this fierce and unlovable child whose existence shatters their belief in a benign world.
Book Club Pick for February – The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta
February 20th 6:30pm dinner, 7:30pm discussion
From the writer praised as a cross between Hitchcock and Dostoyevsky, a dark and suspenseful novel set in post-war Vienna among the spectators in a criminal trial
Shortlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Mid-summer, 1948. Two strangers, Anna Beer and young Robert Seidel, meet on a train as they return to Vienna, where life is just resuming after the upheavals of war. Men who were conscripted into the German army are filtering back home, including Anna’s estranged husband, Dr. Anton Beer, who was held prisoner in a brutal Russian camp. But when Anna returns to their old apartment, she finds another man living there and her husband missing.
At his own house, Robert is greeted by a young maid with a deformed spine. The household is in disarray, with his mother addicted to narcotics and his stepfather, an industrialist and former Party member, hospitalized after a mysterious attack.
Determined to rebuild their lives, Anna and Robert each begin a dogged search for answers in a world where repression is the order of the day. Before long, they are reunited as spectators at a criminal trial set to deliver judgment on Austria’s Nazi crimes.
In The Crooked Maid, Dan Vyleta conjures up a city haunted by its sins and a people caught between the needs of the present and debts owed to the past.
Book Club Pick for January – My Best Stories by Alice Munro
Venue: Veronica’s Place
My Best Stories is a dazzling selection of stories—seventeen favourites chosen by the author from across her distinguished career. The stories are arranged in the order in which they were written, allowing even the most devoted Munro admirer to discover how her work developed. “Royal Beatings” shows us right away how far we are from the romantic world of happy endings. “The Albanian Virgin” smashes the idea that all of her stories are set in B.C. or in Ontario’s “Alice Munro Country.” “A Wilderness Station” breaks short story rules by transporting us back to the 1830s and then jumping forward more than a hundred years. And the final story, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” which was adapted into the film Away from Her, leads us far beyond the turkey-plucking world of young girls into unflinching old age.
Every story in this selection is superb. It is a book to read—and reread—very slowly, savouring each separate story. This collection of small masterpieces deserves a place in every book lover’s home.
November Pick – The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari
November 20th at The Tin Mill (6:30pm dinner; 7:30pm discussion)
Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. With the arrival of a summons for Rukhsana to appear before the infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the family’s world is shattered.
October Book Club Pick
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
The Tin Mill, 6:30pm dinner; 7:30pm discussion
September Book Club Pick
Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and a #1 national bestseller, The Sisters Brothers is a violent, lustful, hung-over and hilarious odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier.
The Tin Mill 6:30pm dinner; 7:30pm discussion
“[An] original and brilliant first novel . . . a mesmerizing storyteller . . . I would like to hand Vanessa Diffenbaugh a bouquet of bouvardia (enthusiasm), gladiolus (you pierce my heart) and lisianthus (appreciation). . . . And there is one more sprig I should add to her bouquet: a single pink carnation (I will never forget you).”—Brigitte Weeks, The Washington Post
“A captivating novel in which a single sprig of rosemary speaks louder than words . . . The Language of Flowers deftly weaves the sweetness of newfound love with the heartache of past mistakes. . . . [It] will certainly change how you choose your next bouquet.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Thursday, June 20 (note change of date)
The discussion touched on several themes found in the book - themes like love, redemption, classism, sexism, poverty. It was generally felt that Degas was an ass; Marie was pretty amazing; Antoinette was also amazing and the story maybe tied up a little too neatly! We were impressed with Buchanan’s research and her ability to weave such a sensory story out of rather sketchy facts. Overall rating was 7.76 – not bad!
The book is 419 by Will Ferguson.
The venue – The Tin Mill, Uxbridge
The time – 6:30pm dinner; 7:30pm discussion.
October Book Club
Book Club Favourite…