Tuesday Afternoon Book Club | April Selection

My Brilliant Friend
by  Elena Ferrante

Print | eBook (Hoopla)

Additional book club kit copies are available at the Adult Information Desk.

This Library led book club meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this modern masterpiece by one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors.

My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other.

They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers.

She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.  (Source: Publisher)

Further Reading

About the author

Book Reviews

Discussion Questions

Watch & Listen

Weekend Picks

St. Patrick’s Day Ed.

We were certain that we had a copy of Barry Lyndon, but it appears we don’t! No bother, we’ll order one just as soon as we can. For now, enjoy some Irish picks over the weekend!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh,

The Wind That Shakes the Barley 

In 1920s Ireland young doctor Damien O’Donovan prepares to depart for a new job in a London hospital. As he says his goodbyes at a friend’s farm, British Black and Tans arrive, and a young man is killed. Damien joins his brother Teddy in the Irish Republican Army, but political events are soon set in motion that tear the brothers apart.

Waking Ned Devine

When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money.

The Commitments

Jimmy Rabbitte, just a tick out of school, gets a brilliant idea: to put a soul band together in Barrytown, his slum home in north Dublin. First he needs musicians and singers: things slowly start to click when he finds three fine-voiced females virtually in his back yard, a lead singer (Deco) at a wedding, and, responding to his ad, an aging trumpet player, Joey “The Lips” Fagan.

Brooklyn

In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.

A small time thief from Belfast, Gerry Conlon, is falsely implicated in the IRA bombing of a pub that kills several people while he is in London. He and his four friends are coerced by British police into confessing their guilt. Gerry’s father and other relatives in London are also implicated in the crime. He spends fifteen years in prison with his father trying to prove his innocence.

The Secret of Roan Inish

10-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Donegal, Ireland. She soon learns the local legend that an ancestor of hers married a Selkie – a seal who can turn into a human. Years earlier, her baby brother was washed out to sea and never seen again, so when Fiona spies a naked little boy on the abandoned Isle of Roan Inish, she is compelled to investigate.

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

 

Seniors Book Club | April Selection

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe

“Book club only” print copies are available at the downtown location of the Library. To pick up a copy, visit the Information Desk on the 2nd floor.

Register to drop-in and discuss this acclaimed, award-winning book which expertly blends true crime and the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.

Further reading

Review: How Conflicts End – And Who Can End Them | The Atlantic

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ — Part History, Part True Crime — Illuminates the Bitter Conflict in Northern Ireland | The New York Times

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ reexamines a mother’s murder in Northern Ireland’s most violent years | Los Angeles Times

Whatever You Say … Say Nothing: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Los Angeles Review of Books

‘My Only Real Loyalty is to the Truth’: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Hazlitt

The Troubles: Northern Ireland History | Britannica

Watch & Listen

Chicago Humanities Festival Interview

Wind of Change (podcast by author Patrick Radden Keefe)

Monday Evening Book Club | April Selection

Akin
by Emma Donoghue

Print | eBook

The Monday Evening Book Club meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss Emma Donoghue’s novel Akin, a brilliant tale of love, loss and family.

A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s wartime secrets. Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nephew. Though he has never met the boy, he gets talked into taking him along to France. This odd couple, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, argue about everything from steak haché to screen time, and the trip is looking like a disaster. But as Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past, both of them come to grasp the risks that people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew. Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room a huge bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together. (Publisher)

Further Reading

About Emma Donoghue

About Akin (including a personal note by Emma Donoghue)

A Chatelaine interview

A Waterstones Blog interview

A Guardian book review

A Washington Post book review

An Irish Independent book review

An Irish Times book review

Discussion Questions

Historical background on Nice, France

Excelsior Hotel, Nice – historyWatch & LISTEN

About Odette Abadi (co-founder of the Marcel Network)

Washington Post article about the Marcel Network

 

WATCH & LISTEN

An Appel Salon (Toronto Public Library) video interview

A CBC Books video trailer

Interview by Shelagh Rogers on CBC’s The Next Chapter

Interview by Tom Power on CBC’s Q

 

 

The Lost Ones
by Sheena Kamal

It is debatable if one can find a more emotionally and physically scarred character than Nora Watts, the protagonist in Kamal’s first book in this new series.  A five a.m. phone call from a man whose name means nothing to her, sets Nora off on a journey that she’d hoped she’d never have to go on.  A girl is missing – one whom Nora is intimately familiar with yet has neither spoken to nor seen – Nora’s fifteen year old daughter whom she gave up for adoption upon her birth.

With only her mutt, Whisper, as a companion, Nora begins her search, relying on her uncanny ability to detect a lie from the truth, and instincts honed by the years that she lived on the streets.  She trusts no one – for placing her trust in others has so often backfired in the past.  

Kamal’s atmospheric description of Nora’s journey from the rain-soaked streets of Vancouver to the snowy Canadian interior and ultimately to a beautiful island had me shivering from the damp and cold. And Nora, too, is shivering as she faces the demon who has monopolized her nightmares for so many years. 

An auspicious beginning to a new series!

  Joanne gives this book 4 daggers out of 5!

Weekend Picks

Sporty Ed.

From footie to cycling, this big melt can’t help but make you wanna get outside and move!

The Keeper

The story of a man whose love for football, for England and for the love of his life, Margaret, saw him rise from Nazi ‘villain’ to British hero. Bert Trautmann, the German goalkeeper won over even his harshest opponents by winning the FA Cup Final for Manchester City in 1956 – playing on with a broken neck to secure victory.

The Climb

A tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage. It is also the story of real-life best friends who turn their profound connection into a rich, humane and frequently uproarious film about the boundaries, or lack thereof, in all close friendships

Pelé: Birth of a Legend

Pele. A name known around the world, a sports legend who changed soccer forever, and a national hero who carried the hopes and dreams of a country on his back. But before he was an icon, he was a kid from the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil, so poor that he couldn’t afford a real soccer ball.

Weekend Picks

Coming Soon

The hottest new Quick Flicks, now holdable and coming soon!

Promising Young Woman

A young woman haunted by a tragedy in her past takes revenge on the predatory men unlucky enough to cross her path.

Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman comes into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s and finds a formidable foe by the name of the Cheetah.

News of the World

A Texan travelling across the wild West bringing the news of the world to local townspeople agrees to help rescue a young girl who was kidnapped.

Monster Hunter

A portal transports Lt. Artemis and an elite unit of soldiers to a strange world where powerful monsters rule with deadly ferocity. Faced with relentless danger, the team encounters a mysterious hunter who may be their only hope to find a way home.

 

 

18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics
by Bruce Goldfarb

In reviewing this book I’m deviating from the usual mysteries/crime/thriller books that I normally blog about. But I think this is such an important book that I wanted to make it known to the many lovers of the mystery genre for it gives background to the rules that govern the investigation of crimes and crime scenes, which is certainly something every good sleuth should know.

I’m a miniaturist – I make dollhouses, scale roomboxes, miniature furniture and accessories.  I learned about the subject of this book – Frances Glessner Lee – through the 1/12” scale (where 1” represents 1 ft. in real life) dioramas depicting real crime scenes that she created (see The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: Essay and Photography by Corinne May Botz).  However, I was totally unaware of the journey that Glessner Lee had to take to get to this point.  Here was a woman who had no scientific or medical background but who began to question how unexplained and unexpected deaths were investigated. Up to this point the field of legal medicine” (forensic science) was steeped in politics, corruption and fear.

Frances worked to have medical examiners replacecoroners (who needed no knowledge of law or medicine, were appointed to their positions and were often corrupt).  In 1943 she became a consultant to the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard Medical School where she created an intensive week-long seminar for police officers.  The seminars provided the participants with the tools necessary to investigate unexpected and unexplained deaths including: how to estimate time of death, decomposition and other post mortem changes, blunt and sharp force injuries and related areas of death investigation.  Harvard Medical School was the only place in the U.S. to offer this seminar. In 1944 Glessner Lee created the dioramas to provide a 3D view of a crime scene, critical to any investigation.  They became an important component to the seminars then and continue to do so today.  “Today, the Frances Glessner Lee Seminar in Homicide Investigation is held at the Forensic Medical Center for the State of Maryland in Baltimore.  The seminars are conducted in accordance with the traditions set by Lee,…

This is a compact version of Francis Glessner Lee’s contribution to forensic science as outlined in this book.  She did so much more.  She was the first person to push to have forensic odontology (teeth) be used to identify victims, though no one at the time felt that this was a valuable tool.  Of course, today, it is used when necessary.  She was always fighting an uphill battle: against sexism, ageism, and ignorance, but she never waivered in her pursuit of what she felt was needed and necessary.

Joanne gives this book 5 stars out of 5!
Joanne gives this book 5 daggers out of 5!

Weekend Picks

Women in Horror Ed.

Ellen Ripley, Agent Clarice Starling, Laurie Strode, they’re all here for Women in Horror Month! But this grassroots movement goes beyond the big names. Checkout what WiHM is really all about!

Alien (Starring Sigourney Weaver)

During its return to the earth, the commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress signal from a distant planet. When a three-member team of the crew discovers a chamber containing thousands of eggs on the planet, a creature inside one of the eggs attacks an explorer. The entire crew is unaware of the impending nightmare set to descend upon them when the alien parasite planted inside its unfortunate host is birthed.

American Psycho (Directed by Mary Harron)

A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he escalates deeper into his illogical, gratuitous fantasies.

Carrie (Directed by Kimberly Peirce)

A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

The Babadook (Directed by Jennifer Kent)

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

The Love Witch ( Directed by Anna Biller)

Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment, she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder.

The Silence of the Lambs (Starring Jodie Foster)

Clarice Starling is a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out.

Halloween (Starring Jamie Lee Curtis)

Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Offbeat | February Meeting

How to Do Nothing:
Resisting the Attention Economy
by Jenny Odell

Print |eAudiobook (hoopla)

We’ll discuss this book and more on February, 25 at 7:00 pm via Zoom. To find out how to join email offbeat@sapl.ca

Further Reading

A vast confusion | Issues

Busy doing nothing | The Baffler

Author interview | The Reviter

Video

How to do nothing | XOXO Festival

Reclaiming our identity in the age of distraction | Interview