Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2013 |
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Since we’ll be discussing Robert K. Massie’s book, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman on January 23rd, I thought I’d post this story from NPR. You can read the whole thing HERE, and once you’re on the page, can even listen to the story.
Just to whet your appetite, here’s part of the article:
acknowledgments at the end of the book, Massie says that he’s going to miss the company of Catherine the Great — the little girl with aspirations, the frustrated young woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, and ultimately, the powerful empress who took comfort in younger men, who helped her forget she was getting old.
“The whole story of the life as it unfolded was absolutely fascinating,” Massie says. “I have four daughters. … I think that Catherine is almost a lesson book. There were lots of moments of despair, but she carried on. She carried through. She’s an example. She won. … I found that exhilarating, and in a sense, reassuring.”
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Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 |
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Our July selection is Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum. Here’s a summary of the book (courtesy of GoodReads):
Twenty years after she lived at a homeless shelter for teens, Janice Erlbaum went back to volunteer. Now thirty-four years old and a successful writer, she’d changed her life for the better; now she wanted to help someone else–someone like the girl she’d once been.
Then she met Sam. A brilliant nineteen-year-old junkie savant, the product of a horrifically abusive home, Sam had been surviving alone on the streets since she was twelve and was now struggling for sobriety against the adverse health effects of long-term drug abuse.
Soon Janice found herself caring deeply for Sam, following her through detoxes and psych wards, halfway houses and hospitals, becoming ever more manically driven to save her from the sickness and sadness leftover from Sam’s terrible past. But just as Janice was on the verge of becoming the girl’s legal guardian, she made a shocking discovery: Sam was sicker than anyone knew, in ways nobody could have imagined.
Written with startling candor and immediacy, Have You Found Her is the story of one woman’s quest to save a girl’s life–and the hard truths she learns about herself along the way.
We welcome anyone to attend our discussion on July 18th at 7:00 p.m. The library does have copies of the book, but if all of our copies are checked out, please ask library staff to see if we can interlibrary loan a copy for you.
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Last night, the group met to discuss The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley. Here’s some of what people had to say:
- Deb started us off by saying, “This is a great book to read if you’re feeling sorry for yourself today.” I think the rest of the group unanimously agreed with her sentiment. We then talked about how it’s better to be a woman now (in many respects) than in 1765, but we also discussed how, in many situations, some of the same things that were true then are true now (women being seen as second-class to men, women staying in abusive relationships, etc.). It seemed to many readers that this book had some contemporary themes running through it.
- Some readers felt the book was a bit of a slow start, but that the author did a tremendous amount of research for this book. We talked about how there was some speculation on the part of the author, but that she usually supported any speculation with well-researched and explained documentation. For example, when the author discusses Jeanne’s abandonment of her first child, the author gives quite a bit of information about the society of that time, foundling hospitals, etc.
- One person mentioned that she kept a globe handy when reading the book, and another found it was helpful to look up things on her iPad while reading. The author gives so much information in this book, that it’s easy to see how this could really help (and this is something I think many of us will do in the future, with some of our other selections).
- The group as a whole completely disliked Commerson, and we spent some time talking about him, and what we saw as his intelligent, but narcissistic, personality. Readers found it unbelievable that he not only treated Jeanne the way that he did, but also that he really had no plan in place for her accompanying him on this voyage. The plan of “I had no idea she was a woman,” if she were to be found out really seemed ludicrous.
- We did talk about Jeanne, and how her life was completely changed by this voyage. As nightmarish as it was, we did note that if she had not met Commerson, she would have had a shorter life, and it might not have been as rich as it turned out to be.
Overall, the group enjoyed this book, even though some people found parts difficult to read (especially the part where Jeanne is assaulted). None of us had been familiar with her, so we appreciated what we learned in this book. We did note that we read and discussed this book right after we discussed Pilgrim at Tinker Creek — two books where women were observing nature, but at different times, and in completely different ways.
Would you like to add your thoughts on this book, or our discussion? Please do — comments are welcome!
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