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"It's all about the book."
What a great reading month! For the past weeks, I've been "living in" two books with lots of drama, one historical, one very current, both wonderful stories. If you're casting about for a good book, they both would make interesting book club choices.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is the author's second book, written after her great success with Loving Frank a few years ago. This new book is the love story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny. She was ten years older than Stevenson and fleeing an unhappy marriage with her children in tow when she met him. Fanny was a strong woman and may have become a writer or artist on her own had she not assumed total care of her sickly husband. Concern for his welfare dominated her life and prompted their many moves and searches around the world for treatments for his tuberculosis.
Nancy Horan reveals her characters slowly, with some surprises in the last part of the book. I have long been a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson's books and taught several numerous times. I thought I knew quite a bit about his life; I was wrong. The details of their many adventures, travels, conflicts and joys were new to me, at times reading like one of his own novels.
Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement is taken from today's news headlines of drug lords, human trafficking and kidnappings in Mexico. Set near Acapulco, the novel opens with an explanation of how mothers hide their young daughters from kidnappers by dressing them as boys, or by making them as ugly as possible. Many dig grave-size holes in the jungle as hideouts for the girls when rumors fly about narco-terrorists coming around to the area. Told in the voice of LadyDi, one of the young girls now 18, the story has an immediacy and tension making it "unputdownable." The author manages to make the reader feel the fear that permeates the lives of these women as drug lords, then police, threaten the very existence of LadyDi, her mother and their friends. The characters and story have added a new dimension to my understanding of what is happening south of our border and in our own country, while telling an unforgettable story of Mexican women.
I've just started another interesting book, The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, by Valerie Martin. I'll let you know more next time!
Parnassus Book Club Selections
March - Wash, by Margaret Wrinkle
April - We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler (This is also this year's Nashville Reads selection)
Karen Joy Fowler appear as part of the Salon@615 speaking series at the Nashville Public Library on Tuesday, April 1st at 6:15pm.
May - The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Paperback edition available on April 8th
Parnassus book club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read the book and join the discussion!
Kathy Schultenover, Book Club Coordinator