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Book Clubs Recommend - 2015

Spring, 2015

Wednesday Afternoon Lunch and Dessert Book Club of San Diego, California, recommends:
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (Riverhead, 2013), Fiction, 416 pages

“The Painted Girls tells the story of three sisters who danced at the Paris Opera Ballet School, and aspired to dance in the chorus. One sister, Marie, modeled for the statuette by Degas, 'The Little Dancer.’ The characters were historical figures, although their
relationships to each other and daily interactions were fictionalized.

“For one member of our group, a dance teacher, the ballet terminology was especially fun to read and share with the group. She and her daughter had seen Degas' original wax, fabric, and hair statuette in Paris, and a show at the Paris Opera Ballet. The descriptions in the book brought back visions of its beauty.

“We examined a framed poster of ‘The Little Dancer’ at our meeting and read passages from Amy Littlesugar's Marie in Fourth Position, a young readers book about Marie and the Degas sculpture. Littlesugar’s book helped us to recall details of The Painted Girls.

“The subject of the story (ballet), its beautiful setting (Paris), the inclusion of such a famous artist (Degas), and the experiences of the characters in the ballet school, made this a truly satisfying read and a favorite book club discussion.”

PamDavisPaired with: “The inspiration for the menu came from the older sister Antoinette’s
decadent meal of Mussels in Garlic Sauce and drinks of Cassis with her romantic
interest, and the book’s Parisian setting. The menu included: Crème de Cassis with Sparkling Water, Mussels in Garlic Butter Sauce, Spinach Quiche, Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes, and baguette, and a salad dressing with shallots.”

Ayesha Mirza, Marketing Manager, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, recommends:
The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys  (February, 2015), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , Fiction, 304 pages

“The latest from award-winning author Helen Humphreys. The Evening Chorus, is aEveningChorus
lyrical, riveting wartime love story that follows James, a pilot struggling to survive in a POW camp, his young war-bride, Rose, back in England trying to make sense of her life, and James’s sister, Enid, whose own story is also rewritten by the tragedies of WWII. Amid
war’s privations, these characters will find liberty and discover confinements that come with peace.

“The Evening Chorus is a beautiful, astonishing, hopeful examination of love, loss, escape, and the ways in which the intrusions of the natural world can save us. We put this into paperback original because we think this slim, thoughtful novel is an ideal fit for reading groups, filled with endless topics of discussion. From a writer of “delicate and incandescent” (San Francisco Chronicle) prose, The Evening Chorus offers a gorgeous, spare examination of nature and the human heart and resonates long after you’ve finished reading with scenes that strike blows to the heart.”

Health Services Book Club of Harford County Public Schools, Fallston, Maryland, recommends:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012), Fiction, 320 pagesWonder

“As a book club of school nurses, we found Wonder, about a ten-year-old boy with a facial deformity that causes others to avoid him, to be one of the best books we have read! The cast of characters related to our school nursing practices so realistically, and having the book told from Auggie’s perspective was an eye opening experience for us. Our book club discussed how Auggie’s severe facial deformity brought out all kinds of behaviors and emotions -- from both children and adults. People always say that ‘kids can be cruel’ and yes, that is true. However, kids can also rise above and show kindness that is pure and unsolicited. This book shows both sides of that spectrum.

“Bullying happens everywhere, not just in schools. Auggie says he is used to it, but no matter how used to it he is, it still hurts. He has dealt with his severe facial disfigurement all his life. He just wants to be accepted by his peers. In the book, Auggie says, 'I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.' Our club discussed how this statement provides insight into how Auggie feels and about life in general. Auggie’s facial deformity tugs on the heartstrings of everyone whose life he touches (including ours!). As school nurses, we know that this book will resonate among us as we continue our work in dealing with students with differences and how those differences bring out the best, and worst of others.”

Paired with: “We meet at the Market Café in Wegmans and having ‘cafeteria-like’ food was perfect for this meeting since the school cafeteria does play a role in this book.” 

Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and Grand Central, recommends
twoRevRoad novels, one current and the other older, on a similar theme:

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (Little Brown, 1961),
482 pages, Fiction

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
(Touchstone, 2014), 352 pages, Fiction

Maum"Yates' 1963 classic shows a young glamorous couple, the Wheelers, who relocate from New York City to the suburbs and how the move exposes the fault lines in their marriage and themselves.

"Maum's hilarious contemporary novel—a debut in 2014—features a hapless British artist
trying to win back his French wife after he was unfaithful.

"Both novels are speculations on marriage--delicious reads in their own right and fun to compare and contrast."