4th Tuesday (Margie's) Book Club
855 El Camino Real #74
Palo Alto, CA
April 2015 Selection: ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR - "THE" "NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"A Best Book of the Year: "The New Yorker," "The Boston Globe," "Minneapolis Star Tribun"e, "Vogue."com, "Electric Literature," "Buzzfeed"
In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and of their love for each other. "Dept. of Speculation" was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child and navigated the familiar calamities of family life--a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.
When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story--a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page.
March 2015 Selection: A modern masterpiece from 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.
February 2015 Selection: Kit Noonan is an unemployed art historian with twins to support, a mortgage to pay, and a frustrated wife who insists that, to move forward, Kit must first confront a crucial mystery about his past. Born to a single teenage mother, he has never known the identity of his biological father.
Kit's search begins with his onetime stepfather, Jasper, a take-no-prisoners Vermont outdoorsman, and ultimately leads him to Fenno McLeod, the beloved protagonist of Glass's award-winning novel "Three Junes." Immersing readers in a panorama that stretches from Vermont to the tip of Cape Cod, "And the Dark Sacred Night "is an unforgettable novel about the youthful choices that steer our destinies, the necessity of forgiveness, and the risks we take when we face down the shadows of our past.
January 2015 Selection: In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.
Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her--a canyon "as deep as the devil's own appetites." Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar--the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then there's John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army's last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. "Painted Horses" sends a dauntless young woman on a heroic quest, sings a love song to the horseman's vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future, often make strange bedfellows. It establishes Malcolm Brooks as an extraordinary new talent.
November 2014 Selection: "Doerr's "stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors" ("San Francisco Chronicle") are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, "All the Light We Cannot See" is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill" ("Los Angeles Times")."
October 2014 Selection: "Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital--an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both. "
September 2014 Selection: Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective...but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky's haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over three million copies in print, spent over one year at #1 on the "New York Times" bestseller list, and inspired a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a story about what it's like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
August 2014 Selection: "In her arresting debut novel, Edan Lepucki conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future, then masterfully exploits its dramatic possibilities." ---Jennifer Egan, author of "A Visit from the Goon Squad
"The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can't reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant.
Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.
A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, "California" imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.
July 2014 Selection: Now in paperback, the international bestselling romantic comedy "bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and...humor," ("Entertainment" "Weekly") featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love.
The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.
Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is "quite intelligent for a barmaid"). But Don is intrigued by Rosie's own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don't find love, it finds you.
Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion's distinctive debut "navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take ("USA TODAY"). "Filled with humor and plenty of heart, "The Rosie Project" is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we're wired, just want to fit in" ("Chicago Tribune").
June 2014 Selection: This 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year paints a rich, vivid portrait of heartbreak and happiness, recounting the story of Ruby Lennox, a narrator who will leave no stone unturned in her account of family life above a pet shop in England. A poignant and beautifully wrought portrait of a young girl's growth.--Seattle Times.
May 2014 Selection: The #1 bestselling international phenomenon that asks, If you won the lottery, would you trade your life for the life of your dreams?
Jocelyne lives in a small town in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for twenty-one years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Could her life have been different?
Then she wins the lottery--and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband--not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?
April 2014 Selection: The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In "The Interestings," Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules's now-married best friends, become shockingly successful--true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, "The Interestings" explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
March 2014 Selection: Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and--maybe--even see some of their dreams come true. Full of Maeve's trademark warmth and humor, once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.
February 2014 Selection: Washington Post Best Book of the Year
New York Times Notable Book
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
January 2014 Selection:
New York Times Notable Book
Best Book Of The Year
Amazon's Top 100: Editor's Choice
Usa Today Best Book Of The Year
Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man.
She hikes up a mountain road behind her house toward a secret tryst, but instead encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome.
As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.
November 2013 Selection: From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "The Jane Austen Book Club," the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."
Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she's managed to block a lot of memories. She's smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, "Rosemary" truly is for remembrance.
August 2013 Selection: From the moment it opens--on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat--Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to the back lots of contemporary Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is gloriously inventive and constantly surprising--a story of flawed yet fascinating people navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.
June 2013 Selection: A "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Daily Candy" Best Book of the Year
Winner of the "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize for First Fiction
Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize
The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to the impeccably appropriate Greyson Duff. The weekend is full of champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust stir beneath the surface.
Winn Van Meter, father of the bride, is not having a good time. Barred from the exclusive social club he's been eyeing since birth, he's also tormented by an inappropriate crush on Daphne's beguiling bridesmaid, Agatha, and the fear that his daughter, Livia--recently heartbroken by the son of his greatest rival--is a too-ready target for the wiles of Greyson's best man. When old resentments, a beached whale and an escaped lobster are added to the mix, the wedding that should have gone off with military precision threatens to become a spectacle of misbehavior.
April 2013 Selection: For fans of "Downton Abbey, "a "New York Times "bestseller, the start of an affair, the end of an era
Fans of Kate Morton's "The ""Forgotten Garden "and Sarah Jio's "The Violets of March "will love this "New York TImes "bestselling sweeping historical novel of love and loss. It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford-and Elise-forever.
March 2013 Selection: Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
February 2013 Selection: Can We Ever Escape Our Secrets?
Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.
She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn't speak, doing the housewifely things she's never before done--playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she's not allowed to know. He's becoming distant and evasive; she's getting lonely and bored.
Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they say they are, and she's terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun, a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money, and finally unravels the mind-boggling long-play con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.
Stylish and sophisticated, fiercely intelligent and expertly crafted, "The Expats" proves Chris Pavone to be a writer of tremendous talent.
January 2013 Selection: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
October 2012 Selection: The One City One Book 2012 Selection
The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. "A Paradise Built in Hell" is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster's grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.
September 2012 Selection: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
August 2012 Pick: "There's tremendous heart in this debut novel by Rachel Joyce, as she probes questions that are as simple as they are profound: Can we begin to live again, and live truly, as ourselves, even in middle age, when all seems ruined? Can we believe in hope when hope seems to have abandoned us? I found myself laughing through tears, rooting for Harold at every step of his journey. I'm still rooting for him."--Paula McLain, author of "The Paris Wife"
July 2012 Pick: This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society--where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York's social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, "Rules of Civility" won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
June 2012 Selection: At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, ""The Art of Fielding" is mere baseball fiction the way "Moby Dick" is just a fish story" (Nicholas Dawidoff). It""is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.
May 2012 Pick: "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what's been missing in her life. And when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.
April 2012 Pick: Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a feisty, charming Frenchwoman who lived through both World Wars. As Trevor examines the relics from the box, he imagines the story of Louise's life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who worked for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13 rue Th r se. But the more time Trevor spends with the objects, the truer his imaginings become, and the more he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: Josianne, his clerk, who planted the box in his office, and with whom he finds himself falling in love.
February 2012 Selection: On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, Gary and Irene's marriage is unraveling. Following the outline of Gary's old dream and trying to rebuild their life together, they are finally constructing the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place. But the onset of an early winter and the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threaten their bond to the core.
Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, "Caribou Island" is a drama of bitter love and failed dreams--an unforgettable portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul.
January 2012 Selection: NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST - "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "The Wall Street Journal - O: The Oprah Magazine - The Economist - Vogue - "Slate" - Chicago Tribune - The Seattle Times - Dayton Daily News - Publishers Weekly - "Alan Cheuse, NPR's "All Things Considered"
SELECTED ONE OF THE TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times - Entertainment Weekly - The Christian Science Monitor - The Kansas City Star - Library Journal"
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of "The Jungle Book" and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with "the deathless man." But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her--the legend of the tiger's wife.
Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.