Book Selections for 2020-21
Meetings held monthly in the Meeting Room at 2:00 and 7:00 pm
September 15, 2020
The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney. About $7.00
(Delayed from March, 2020)
Throughout her life, Alexandra Penney's worst fear was becoming a bag lady. Even as she worked several jobs while raising a son as a single mother, wrote a multimillion-dollar best-selling advice book, and became editor in chief of Self magazine, she was haunted by the image of herself alone, bankrupt, and living on the street. She even went to therapy in an attempt to alleviate the nagging in her mind that told her that all she had worked for could crumble. And then, one day, that's exactly what happened.
Alexandra Penney had taken a friend's advice and invested nearly everything she had ever earned with Bernie Madoff. So one day she was successful and wealthy; the next she had almost nothing. Suddenly, at an age when many Americans retire, Penney saw her worst nightmares coming true.
Entertaining and inspiring, The Bag Lady Papers chronicles Penney's struggle to cope with the devastating financial and emotional fallout of being cheated out of her life savings, and traces her journey back to sanity and security. Her outraged blog postings about the Madoff scandal in The Daily Beast and her commentary on CNN have generated millions of hits and earned her a loyal following. How do you pick yourself up after your worst nightmare comes true? Penney shows us how.
October 20, 2020
An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor. About $5.00
(Delayed from April, 2020)
Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there, but already he knows that there is nowhere he would rather live than in the emerald hills and dales of Northern Ireland. The proud owner of a spanking-new medical degree and little else in the way of worldly possessions, Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice. At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly.
The older physician, whose motto is to never let the patients get the upper hand, has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can't decide if the pugnacious O'Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met, or the best teacher he could ever hope for. Through O'Reilly Barry soon gets to know all of the village's colorful and endearing residents, including: A malingering Major and his equally hypochondriacal wife;
An unwed servant girl, who refuses to divulge the father of her upcoming baby;
A slightly daft old couple unable to marry for lack of a roof;
And a host of other eccentric characters who make every day an education for the inexperienced young doctor. Ballybucklebo is long way from Belfast, and Barry is quick to discover that he still has a lot to learn about the quirks and traditions of country life. But with pluck and compassion and only the slightest touch of blarney, he will find out more about life―and love―than he ever imagined back in medical school.
November 17, 2020
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (about $7, used)
Novel based on true story. This is about 12-year-old Hannah Rosenthal's harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion. Before everything changed, young Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; her family's fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: whatever the future has in store for them, they'll meet it together.
Hope appears in the form of the SS St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews safe passage out of Germany. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart on the luxurious ship bound for Havana. Life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for the refugees, with masquerade balls, exquisite meals, and polite, respectful service. But soon ominous rumors from Cuba undermine the passengers' fragile sense of safety. From one day to the next, impossible choices are offered, unthinkable sacrifices are made, and the ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their doom.
Seven decades later in New York City, on her 12th birthday, Anna Rosen receives a strange package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents will inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family's mysterious and tragic past, a quest that will help Anna understand her place and her purpose in the world.
The German Girl sweeps from Berlin at the brink of the Second World War to Cuba on the cusp of revolution, to New York in the wake of September 11, before reaching its deeply moving conclusion in the tumult of present-day Havana. Based on a true story, this masterful novel gives voice to the joys and sorrows of generations of exiles, forever seeking a place called home.
DECEMBER 2020: NO MEETING
January 19, 2021
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (about $5.50, used)
Novel. Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. A novel of charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.
February 16, 2021
Devices and Desires by P.D. James (about $6, used)
Murder Mystery. Featuring the famous Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Devices and Desires is a thrilling and insightfully crafted novel of fallible people caught in a net of secrets, ambitions, and schemes on a lonely stretch of Norfolk coastline.
Commander Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard has just published a new book of poems and has taken a brief respite from publicity on the remote Larksoken headland on the Norfolk coast in a converted windmill left to him by his aunt. But he cannot so easily escape murder. A psychotic strangler of young women is at large in Norfolk, and getting nearer to Larksoken with every killing. And when Dalgliesh discovers the murdered body of the Acting Administrative Officer on the beach, he finds himself caught up in the passions and dangerous secrets of the headland community and in one of the most baffling murder cases of his career.
March 16, 2021
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (about $6.50, used)
A Best Book of the Year: The Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post. Read by Bethlehem Lutheran Church Book Club, Longmont, Colorado
Novel. In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better--their pleasures and their difficulties--a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer's enduring contribution to American literature.
April 20, 2021
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (about $6.00, used)
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train [read by FLC Book Club], a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.
Novel. ”Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”
To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.
As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists. Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.
May 18 , 2021 (7:00 pm, Meeting Room)
Dessert and Decisions, One Meeting Time
Members meet to vote from a candidate list of titles the books to be read in common by the FLC Book Club in 2021-22.