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The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman May 2, 2006

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.
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May’s book club selection is The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman.

Natalie Marx’s family is planning a vacation in Vermont and, because the setting is the 1960’s before email and the Internet, her mother writes letters to several innkeepers in the area inquiring about availability and rates. Most respond cordially, but one proprieter, the cold and precise Ingrid Berry, writes, “The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.” This unexpected snub shocks young Natalie, whose namesake is an aunt who died in the Holocaust. Natalie’s obsession with infiltrating the Inn at Lake Devine has surprising and often hilarious consequences.

Lipman’s social commentary mixed with humorous insight is reminiscent of Jane Austen, but with a modern twist.

Questions to consider for discussion:

1) Certainly, Ingrid Berry, with her overt anti-Semitism, is easy to dislike. But how to you feel about the other members of the Berry family who turn a blind eye to the Inn’s racist policy?

2) How do you feel about Natalie’s “friendship” with Robin Fife?

3) What role does food play in this novel? What does the desire to be a chef reveal about Natalie’s character?

4) One reviewer of this novel wrote, “Prejudice, in all its many disguises, is an unusually worthy but often ponderous subject; its very weightiness . . . often threatens to sink otherwise well-written and well-meaning tales.” What aspects of Lipman’s style allow her to avoid this pitfall?

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An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg April 1, 2006

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.
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April's book club selection is An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg. This
book is the OneBookAZ community reading selection for April.

There will be many book discussions on An Unfinished Life all across Arizona during the month of April. Visit the OneBookAZ homepage to find out where they will be occuring. We will have two live discussions of this book at the PVCC Library. Please, join us either Monday, April 17th from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm or Wednesday April 19th from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.

Jean Gilkyson has run out of options. She must run away from her
latest abusive boyfriend and keep her daughter, Griff out of harm's
way. The only place she can go to is the home Einar Gilkyson, her
father-in-law, and the man who blames her for his son's death. Einar
lives with his best friend, a black, disabled cowboy named Mitch. Mitch
and Griff play a central role in healing the chasm that separates Jean
and Einar. But this reconciliation comes at a great cost.

Questions to consider for discussion:

Why is Einar so upset when he finds Jean trying on some of his deceased wife's clothing one night?

How is Griff like her father? How is her relationship with Einar different from her father's?

Why is it important to the story that Mitch is black?

Describe Griff's relationship with her mother. How does Jean's guilt and grief shape her relationship with Griff and with Einar?

If you could choose the reading selection for OneBookAZ or a similar
community-wide book discussion, what would you choose and why?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini March 1, 2006

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March's Book Club selection is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Our live library discussion will take place, Wednesday, March 22nd at 7 pm in the PVCC Library.

Against all odds, Amir and Hassan are friends. Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul businessman, and Hassan is the son of their servant, Ali. Amir is always jealous of the bond he perceives between his father and Hassan. He never feels that his father loves or is proud of him. On a winter day in 1975, Hassan is attacked by some local bullies, and Amir's cowardice and jealousy prevent him from helping his friend. He then compounds this betrayal by accusing Hassan of theft.As an adult, Amir is driven by love and guilt to atone for the terrible mistakes he made in his youth. His journey of redemption will take him back to Afghanistan, to face his greatest challenge: finding and saving Hassan’s son.

How do you feel about Amir, about Hassan? How are they similar? Are you surprised that they were ever friends?

What to you think about “Baba,” Amir’s father? How does his relationship change with Amir after they move to the United States? Do you consider him culpable in Amir’s betrayal of Hassan?

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett February 7, 2006

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February’s selection is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It is an unusual yet moving story, set in an unnamed South American country. A group of terrorists interrupt a lavish birthday party for Japanese businessman, Mr. Hosokawa, and take the partygoers hostage. Terror gives way to resignation, and then to an unexpected domesticity as the hostages and the terrorists grow accustomed to one another and to their untenable situation. Easing their anxiety is the presence and voice of opera singer, Roxanne Coss who was invited to sing for Mr. Hosokawa. Her talent and beauty unites the captives and their captors in an admiration that suspends time and the urgency of the crisis.

What do you make of this easygoing relationship between the hostages and their captors? You would expect that in this type of situation that the hostages would be united into one camp against their captors, and vice versa, yet this is not the case. What is it about Roxanne Coss, or any of the other characters, that changes this group dynamic?