Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The December Selection

"I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
I see that now the window's bright again.
Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps."
- BaiJuyi, Night Snow

Dear members,

Just in time for the holiday season:  a new book club pick  to cosy up to on quiet evenings. 
For the month of December, we look to Kathleen Winter's "Annabel".

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self - a girl he thinks of as "Annabel"- is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. Haunting and sweeping in scope, Annabel is a compelling tale about one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction. 

About the author:

Kathleen Winter  is a Canadian short story writer and novelist., born in Bill Quay near Gateshead in the north of England and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador. She began her career as a  script writer for Sesame Street before becoming a columnist for The Telegram in St. John's Her debut short story collection, boYs, was published in 2007 and won that year's  Winterset Award and Metcalf-Rooke Award.
Annabel was published in 2010, and won the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. It was in the shortlisted nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2010 Governor General's Awards. It held the distinction of being the only novel to make the short list of all three awards in 2010. In 2011 it was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction.
She currently  lives in Montreal with her husband and is the sister of novelist Michael Winter.
-(taken from good old Wiki)

Additionally, here's a clip of the author being interviewed about "Annabel".


 I must admit, I've already passed the first two chapters and I'm already loving it!
 As well, thank you to everyone who turned up at our seventh meeting! We had a great discussion about our previous pick, G.M. Malliet's "Wicked Autumn", which left us to wonder what the author has in store next for the former MI5 agent turned vicar, Max Tudor! Then it was on to some fun gift exchanges, which left us quite content with what we've chose!

Happy reading!


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Nether Monkslip

The Village

"The village of Nether Monkslip nestled with its narrow river beneath a high ridge called Hawk Crest. A steep and winding path led to the brow of this promontory, which was the site of the gap-toothed remains of an ancient stone circle. A visitor on first reaching the top of the Crest, as villagers called it, and seeing the village below, might catch his or her breath in wonder that anything so pristine could have survived into the twenty-first century."

 ( From G.M. Malliet's website)

 G.M. Malliet's "Wicked Autumn" certainly establishes a charming setting- an English village we dream of venturing into. Additionally, you can find an interactive version of this map on her website, which gives you fun bits about each building.
I have always found maps within books an additional bonus, whether it be Middle Earth or Nether Monkslip. It makes me wish that some of these places exist! Perhaps they do- but hidden within our sight.

Max Tudor is certainly an interesting character! The former MI5 agent turned Vicar of a small village has its own interesting background to begin with- sort of like Father Brown meets James Bond. Who do you picture as Max Tudor?
In an interview, Malliet focuses on duality in her mystery. In Max' experience, "People...were always a combination of good and bad, of wisdom and foolishness." Max, himself, has two different lives and they come together in this book, as he searches for the killer.

Hope everyone's enjoying this read so far!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wicked Autumn

"November comes 
And November goes, 
With the last red berries 
And the first white snows.

With night coming early, 
And dawn coming late, 
And ice in the bucket 
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn 
And the kettles sing, 
And earth sinks to rest 
Until next spring."
- Elizabeth Coatsworth

Dear members,

While our time with "The Night Circus" has come to an end, another month arrives and with it, brings a whole different theme.
November certainly has an air of mystery to it, considering that by now the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. As such, our selection for this month will help get us through these chillier nights to come.
Our winning pick for our November selection?


It has already garnered awards and great reviews, including being listed by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of 2011. Great stuff!

About the author:

From her website:

G.M. Malliet won the Agatha Award for Death of a Cozy Writer, which initially won the Malice Domestic grant. She did post-graduate work at Oxford University after earning a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for the St. Just mysteries.

Happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Magical World of The Night Circus

Dear members,
I have come across interesting tidbits that's all about "The Night Circus" and would love to share with you all!

Step into the actual Night Circus in this fun interactive experience. What would your cards say?

 There's a different story every time depending on the choice you choose to follow... how enchanting! You've got Herr Thiessen to thank for.

To be a Reveur...

“Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent.”

With the circus came travellers. Men and women dressed in black and white, each with a touch of red somewhere about their person. A scarf, a pair of gloves, a hat, a ruby necklace. There's a group of them over by the bonfire, now.

I just love the fact that followers of the Night Circus are known as the Reveurs, and are identified by wearing a red scarf! Personally, I have always been a fan of wearing red, especially when it comes to red scarves, so now when I wear one, it takes on a whole new role...

Turn your home into the Night Circus...literally!

Someone has actually attempted to decorate their home to the tune of "The Night Circus"- red, white, and black. I absolutely love the clock window- I simply must have this in my home someday!

The more I read this book, the more I want Le Cirque des Reves to exist. Oh if only! But who knows- maybe someone would be so overwhelmed by inspiration and can possibly create such a feat... only time can tell!

Interesting book displays for "The Night Circus"

At Warwick's Bookstore:

One independent bookstore did an interpretation of Herr Friedrick Thiessen's clock!

via Erin Morgenstern's site.

Q. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?

A. I would use a vaguely incoherent run-on sentence. It would involve the words “circus,” “nocturnal,” “Victorian,” “magicians,” “black,” “white,” “love,” & “choices” and also the phrase “shades of grey.” It likely wouldn’t do the book as a whole justice, though.

Various cover editions from all over the world:

The UK version hardcopy cover- although our North American version is lovely with black and swirly designs- I so would like this red version with the clock!

Erin Morgenstern's playlist as she wrote "The Night Circus" (via Largehearted Boy):

It might be worth noting that The Night Circus was written (and rewritten) over a period of more than three years, so I listened to a lot of music while writing. A whole lot. Several of these tracks could really be full albums, put on repeat and cycling over and over through black-and-white striped tents.

"A Seated Night," Moby
My teenage mix-tape making self is going to show through immediately, since I can't structure a playlist without giving it a carefully chosen tone-setting opening. Since the book begins standing outside the still-closed circus gates it needed a proper overture and this fits the bill perfectly and is a sound I always love, almost-classical with a modern bent

"Prelude" and "Rooftop," Bernard Herrmann (from the Vertigo film score)
With a top hat tip to both Hitchcock & also Punchdrunk's Sleep No More, Bernard Herrmann has composed what became the soundtrack to my dreams over the last few years. I have wandered darkened hallways to these notes and they are deeply embedded in my writing brain, moody and mysterious with something disconcerting lurking just around the corner.

"Aria," Delerium
In those bleak moments when I couldn't find my story in all the drafts and rewrites and second guessing, I would put my headphones on, put my hands over my eyes and picture every key moment of the book movie-trailer style in my mind. Seriously, I did. I also decided it was a good minute or two too long to be a really good trailer, but it still sounds circusy in my head and was always helpful for focusing.

"White Winter Hymnal," Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes was my revision music of choice for the last few rounds, in that constant repeat way, maybe because there's something timeless about their sound. It took me a while to realize the appropriateness of the lyrics in this particular track, with the scarves of red and all.

"Favorite Cities," Azure Ray
I often write to Azure Ray, they have a wonderful tone to their beautiful, layered voices and this particular song was so circus-evocative to me that I ended up sneaking the title in to the book.

"Cataracts," Andrew Bird
For a long time Andrew Bird was that guy my friend Carey knew, and I still regret that it took me so long to actually start listening to his music. Another album that got the constant repeat treatment, this track in particular, especially for the moments of melancholy.

"All I Need," Radiohead
I'm starting to feel repetitive now. I write to Radiohead frequently and In Rainbows was on heavy rotation during circus construction. This track in particular has always been my favorite.

"Behold! The Night Mare," Smashing Pumpkins
True story: my very first live concert was a Smashing Pumpkins show that I was dragged to by friends even though I barely knew their music. I became more familiar with them years later, post band break-up. This was always a walking around the circus late at night with a single red rose kind of song.

"Sister Janet," Tori Amos
I had to include a Tori song, she's one of those artists who I started listening to at age 13 and grew up and evolved with. Between the tone and the "wizards, black and white," this one is the one that ended up on the circus soundtrack.

"Lonely Ghosts," O+S
Playlist trivia: O+S is a group featuring Orenda Fink from Azure Ray. Always an Isobel song, we stay because we don't know where else to go.

"Signs," Bloc Party
Pandora kept throwing this one at me and it would catch my ear every time, with that twinkling light Ice Garden sound. Is it a glockenspiel or something? I have no idea, but it caught my attention so much that I would stop and listen to it and between the ravens in the oak tree and the sadness at the funeral it needed to be a circus song.

"Cosmic Love," Florence + the Machine
A night-sky love song. This one I'm not explaining beyond that, I love Florence + the Machine too much to try.

"The Trapeze Swinger," Iron & Wine
Always my ultimate circus song, epic and swooping and carnival-laden. It now has a number of circus-driven memories both book-related and personal tied to its notes and layered over the lyrics, high highs and low lows all around a frightened trapeze swinger.

Words to describe The Night Circus?


The Butterfly Circus

I close my eyes, then I drift away, into the magic night I softly say. A silent prayer, like dreamers do, then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.
-Roy Orbison
Dear members,

By now, the majority of us is more than halfway through our latest book club pick: Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus".

Keeping that in mind, the theme of wonder and magic that lies within the realm of the circus has inspired many to write and produce films based on this aspect.

As such, I would like to share with you all one of my favourite short films, which ties to this theme- as well as being very inspiring and beautiful- "The Butterfly Circus".  Starring in the short is the amazing Nick Vujivic.

You can also find the full version of the short on YouTube if you wish to watch it in it's entirety, which I highly recommend!

Here is the trailer:

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I will always remember this summer day in Paris, when I was to perform a great acrobatic move. I can still see myself stepping on the ring of a packed circus along real performers. 
-Tony Curtis


I hope everyone is enjoying "The Night Circus" so far! 
It definitely is magical realism at its best- I couldn't help but wish that there truly was a Night Circus out there that we can enjoy- it would undoubtedly add another sparkle to our life- but that's what books are precisely for: to explore worlds so remarkable from our own and being able to live through the character's lives for a while and channelling their emotions as if they were ours.
In this clip, the author, Erin Morgenstern, talks about her book and draws in a little bit on what inspires her- including magic.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

The October Selection

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
-Oscar Wilde

October is such an exciting month filled with all things imaginary, thanks to Halloween! During our fifth meeting which took place on the 22nd at Marche Restaurant, not only did we discuss our previous month's pick which was Rosie Alison's "The Very Thought Of You", but we also took the time pick the next title! In addition, I welcome Aysen, Sonya, and Florence to the book club!

I am happy to announce that our October book club pick is:

About the author, Erin Morgenstern:

From what I can see, the author is truly an incredible and very interesting person whom I would love to meet sometime in the near future! Apart from being a writer, she is also an artist.

From her website:
I write. Fantastical, fairy tale-esque things with magic and mystery and tea. I studied theatre & studio art at Smith College. I currently live in Salem, Massachusetts & will be relocating to Boston in the foreseeable future. Kittens are looking forward to the impending influx of cardboard boxes.

I read a lot. I drink absurd amounts of red wine and even more absurd amounts of tea.
I collect jewelry made from old keys.
My fiction tends to be location-driven. Nocturnal circuses, subterranean libraries, townhouses dressed up as pirate ships. I got tired of living in Alice’s Wonderland and decided to build some of my own.

She also has a Twitter page, for those of you who use Twitter.

Over the next month, I will post up thoughts and inspirations in relation to all things "The Night Circus" as well as interviews of the author herself. 
The reviews and the amount of recommendations for this novel has got me incredibly excited to get started. Happy reading everyone! 


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Just For Thought...

As a stalwart reader of printed books, I'm left to wonder what will happen to the wide, slow silty river of their history, to the countless volumes waiting now in the abandoned silence of library stacks. Stacks: The word itself connects books to the harvest, to corn and hay. They were always earthbound. Smell the must, feel the brittle, browning pages between your thumb and forefinger. The tears, the cracked spines, the stains and folds. Even if we readers forget them, printed books will hold us in their memory.

- Jane Bronx, Illuminating Texts

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Author Spotlight: Rosie Alison

Dear members,

This post provides a deeper insight into our latest book club pick, "The Very Thought of You". In Chick Lit Central the author provides a descriptive account of how this story came about, her thoughts and her feelings for that time period.

Writing a First Novel
by Rosie Alison

It’s a peculiar experience, putting a novel out into the world. Particularly a personal, heartfelt novel such as "The Very Thought of You." For me, it was a long, solitary and secretive process to excavate this novel, my first: I wrote it on and off over eight years, after work, once the children were asleep, late at night. I never dared to take time off from my day job to write; I feared that pressure to deliver would have spiked my fragile private writing bubble. So the novel had a slow gestation and naturally I was delighted when I finally finished it and found a publisher.

But I had very mixed feelings about publication: a part of me longed for the book to find readers – yet at the same time, I dreaded discovering that those readers might just be left cold or puzzled or irritated. To begin with, I was euphoric whenever anyone wrote a kindly blog, and sliced to the marrow if someone disparaged it. And my novel seems to have attracted both passionate readers and contemptuous ones. I’ve learned to be philosophical that any novel which attempts to tackle romantic feeling will divide people – but I have to respect, too, those readers who picked up the book and either disliked or misunderstood what I was attempting to do.

My guiding instinct was to write a story about love. The longing for an intimate other is surely the most abiding universal impulse, and I wanted to explore different kinds of love – not just romantic love, but two people reaching out to each other in some way. "The Very Thought of You" is a book in which most of the characters are holding the thought of somebody in their heads and hearts. I’ve tried to tease out that invisible thread which runs between potential lovers – delving into how love takes root and evolves, all those elusive staging posts. The heart of the novel is an adult love affair, and much of the time I was trying to get inside these two lovers as they feel this unspoken connection between them, but don’t know whether it’s their delusion or not. This affair is framed by the more unusual story of a young evacuee, Anna, who develops her own complicated attachment to one of her hosts, which endures through her life in unexpected ways.

Although this novel begins and ends with Anna (the evacuee), in many ways, the novel actually grew around her host Thomas Ashton. Thomas undergoes many reversals of fortune – yet he’s sustained by his abiding capacity for love, which becomes an act of faith for him, even after his lover has died. I wanted to write about a character who is emotionally disconnected or blocked at the beginning – but who finds himself transformed by love, which endures despite his loss, in (I hope!) an inspiring way.

Anna Sands, the displaced child, has a different fate. Unlike many evacuees who were deeply scarred by their wartime experiences, she seems a lucky survivor. She ends up at a beautiful house, with kind teachers, safe from the war. And yet in the absence of parental love, she develops an inappropriate attachment to one of her teachers which skews her emotional development, with unexpected repercussions right through her life. She ends up as one of life’s emotional witnesses, stranded on the sidelines of other people’s lives, always hankering after a relationship which could never be hers. It was this notion of becoming a witness – somebody with a face always pressed against a window, instead of joining in – which interested me in Anna. For me, that’s the poignancy of the Raymond Carver poem which I chose to preface the novel – that everyone longs to be ‘beloved’, yet some people are fated not to be, often unable to escape the long shadows of childhood.

Attempting to write romantic fiction is a high wire act: what for some will be heartfelt, for others will be cloying. I’ve noticed some people find my prose too purple, while others find it too detached. My own hope is that it can express heartache and longing in a way which is consoling for at least some readers. Kafka wrote that “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us,” and that was very much the case for me, it took me a while to crack through my own ice, and realise that I wanted to write as deeply as I could about human longing. When friends ask me what kind of book I’ve written, I describe it as a torchsong – perhaps that’s why I chose a song title. But it’s definitely not a book for romantic pragmatists.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Very Thought of You

"Of all the people we meet in a lifetime, it is strange that so many of us find ourselves in thrall to one particular person. Once that face is seen, an involuntary heartache sets in for which there is no cure. All the wonder of this world finds shape in that one person and thereafter there is no reprieve, because this kind of love does not end, or not until death.
For the lucky ones, this love is reciprocated. But for so many others everywhere, anywhere, there follows an unending ache of longing without relief. Incurable love is a great leveler. Yet I believe that this bittersweet love is better by far than the despair which blights those with a dead heart."

A little background into the author:

Rosie Alison grew up in Yorkshire, and read English and Keble College in Oxford. She spent ten years directing television documentaries before becoming a film producer at Heyday Films. She is married and has two daughters and lives in London.

"The Very Thought Of You" has made it to the Amazon Rising Stars shortlist and was longlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year and the Prince Maurice Prize in 2010, as well as being shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Here is a deeper insight into the story and the characters in "The Very Thought Of You". The author discusses with the Chair of Judges, Daisy Goodwin, at the Orange Prize for Fiction 2010 Shortlist Readings. Enjoy!

Friday, 23 September 2011

An Interview With... Matchbook Book Club

A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us. 

-Franz Kafka

Dear members,

I was recently approached by Book Club In a Box to feature our book club in their September Book Club Spotlight. Of course I couldn't turn down this lovely opportunity, and did my very best to answer their wonderful questions which provide a further insight as to what our book club is all about.
I have mentioned this interview on our Facebook and Twitter, but some have requested posting the interview up on the blog, so here it is- enjoy!

From their website:

Book Club Spotlight: The Matchbook Book Club

Once every month, we’ll share the motivation and passion that drives one book club — it could be yours! — from across the globe. These are the people who have combined the solitary pleasure of reading a book with the joy of sharing, discussing, and debating it in a social setting. For September’s Book Club Spotlight, say hello to Joanne from Toronto, who founded the Matchbook Book Club.
What was the inspiration for starting the Matchbook Book Club?
Three months ago, as I was about to finish university, I went looking for a book club in Toronto that shared the same passion for books and wanted to create something more from what we read through fun trips or activities, and where discussions in meetings would have the charm and feel of a literary salon. So when nothing arose, I decided to pursue a book club that would have such attributes. Little did I know that many shared the same sentiment! As well, I wanted the book club to be inspirational, defining what we think and imagine in old world charisma within modern times. Our motto is inspired by the words of the English poet John Keats: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
To meet a variety of wonderful individuals right here in my city, who share the same passion for books and have amazing ideas to bring forth during meetings, has helped to further shape my outlook of life. It’s such a remarkable feeling.
Who are the members of your club? How did you come to know each other?
We have a wide range of members from various parts of Toronto, but we also have someone from as far as Australia interested in our book club. She keeps updated through our email newsletters and takes part in discussions on our blog! Some are friends I have known in university, at work, or those who contacted me from seeing the Facebook pageblog, or Twitter account. As well, in the earlier days, I posted the book club in the Penguin Book Club newsletter.
Our members include: Jennifer, Shirley, Barbara, Ifhtia, John, JoAnne, Shalabh, Nathalie, Anila, Sonya, Veronica, Lydia, Michele, Alia, Khadija, Shemeena, Thuvaraga, and Candida.
How does your group select each book? Is there specific criteria?
The kinds of books we read covers all sorts of genres and in a broader sense, aim to look at subjects that are noteworthy, touch our hearts, and provide a greater understanding of the world around us. What I do is handpick five interesting titles whose recommendations either come from my favourite bookstores, such as Indigo and Nicholas Hoare, from publishers, or titles I come across personally that I feel would be ideal and would fit the sentiments of our book club.
At our meetings, everyone has the opportunity to read the synopsis of each title and vote on which will be our pick of the month! At the same time, everyone has the chance to voice titles they feel would be ideal for the book club. During certain months, I add an interesting twist and make it themed. In July, it was mystery-themed and so our pick was a classic: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. For the month of September, the theme will be “the Nostalgic Romantic,” and for October, in light of Halloween, the theme will be “Wonderstruck Noir.”
Do you have a unique way of preparing for a book club meeting?
I love to plan and organize. In fact, I love to make lists of things to do should my memory fail me! I have a Moleskine notebook especially for the book club, which I fill with ideas for our meetings and trips. I collect a variety of interesting discussion questions that can further branch out into a broader subject matter, allowing more space for people to put in their thoughts. In addition, the ability to ensure positive energy to bring into the meeting plays a great role.
Do you incorporate food, films, field trips, or other bonus features into your meetings?
Most definitely! In fact, our upcoming meeting involves discussing our current selection,The Help by Kathryn Stockett. We are all going to the cinema to see the film before our meeting.
During our last meeting (for Murder on the Orient Express), we had light snacks and incorporated a murder mystery game called “Poirot Investigates.” It involves each member picking a character by chance, one secretly being the murderer, and whoever selects Poirot has to investigate each member. I happened to be Poirot, and my conclusion about whom the murderer was turned out to be wrong! Regardless, the winner received a small prize.
My very first intention was to also include fun trips within the book club, such as picnics on the Toronto Islands, visits to botanical gardens, or other fun events. As autumn is underway, I hope to include trips to places like the apple orchard, as well as fun crafts like making leaf lanterns.
If you could invite any author (or even just any person) to join one of your meetings, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, Arthur Conan Doyle. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, along with many of the others members of the book club. It would be such an honour for Doyle to sit in with us, discuss our readings, and allow us to pick his brain. Oh the endless questions I would ask!
Of all the books your club has selected, which is your favourite? (And do you have another favourite book that hasn’t been read by your club?)
To be quite honest, all the books we have read so far (The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Help) have been exceptionally lovely in their own way. There is a favourite book of mine that hasn’t been read by our club, but was within the selections: Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. It’s a refreshing and captivating read. One can’t help but desire to have a bit of Maisie in all of us.

As well, I hope everyone has a fantastic upcoming weekend! What are your weekend plans?

Every year, I look forward to this weekend as I would head to Queens Park to check out Word On The Street- a book and magazine festival which celebrates literacy and the written word. You can meet authors and check out publishers there- and be very tempted to stock up bagful of books to bring home! It takes place on Sunday the 25th. Make sure to come out and enjoy the festivities!

Joie de vivre,

Monday, 19 September 2011

Our September Selection

All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name. - Andre Breton


Hello everyone!

At last, September has arrived and it carries the promise of grand things to come. Fall is definitely one of my favourite seasons, where one can witness the beautiful change of reds, oranges, and yellows on the leaves where it then makes its final bow.

Some lovely things to look forward to include:
Snuggling into thick sweaters, the smell of cooking and baking during family gathering as Thanksgiving, drinking apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes, eating apple pie and picking apples from the apple orchard, the thrill of dressing up for Halloween no matter what age (not to mention carving pumpkins!), Nuit Blanche, and so much more.

This month, our theme is called "The Nostalgic Romantic". The Nostalgic Romantic alludes to the touch of the historical and the sentimental, where we look back to the past, feeling a stir of yearning for what once was, and holding on to the sense of wonder found in our present everyday lives.
I am also excited to inform everyone that I have a list full of fun ideas for our book club this season. Some examples include picking apples at the apple orchard, throwing a Fall Craft Party (working on fun things as leaf lanterns that will brighten our home), have dinner-and-a-movie day where the film ties with this month's theme, visit historical places in the city, and much more!

How are you spending your September days?

Catching up on...
Our Fourth Meeting
Our fourth meeting was a hoot, where we discussed about our August book club pick "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett at Marche Restaurant (located at Brookfield Place) on Saturday, September the 17th. We touched upon many different subject matters at the plot, the characters, the symbols, and the themes embedded in the story, connecting the author's background to give us a bigger picture of the novel. Many of the members had seen the film version and were glad to have discovered that it was quite true to the book. Discussions were full of laughs and there was never a dull moment as we recall examples as Minnie's attitude and "Two-slice" Hilly, and were all very touched by Skeeter, Constantine, and Celia with her ability to see beyond the divided line found in Mississippi. We touched upon hard subjects as inequality and discrimination, where there was wholehearted agreement that issues found within the novel such as racial discrimination, which took place during that time, are just as relevant today.
Some very interesting points were brought out, one being the symbolic presence of red found throughout the book, as well as the meaning behind "the scream"- the author was actually inspired by the painter Edvard Munch and his famous painting, "The Scream." Who would have guessed!

Our September Selection
Out of the five titles that were picked, many were drawn and voted for  Rosie Alison's "The Very Thought Of You".
A summary:
England, 31st of August, 1939.

The world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, and enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn in their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes- and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences.
A story of longing, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle pyschological observation, The Very Thought of You is not just a love story, but a story about love.

Look to upcoming posts for more insights, thoughts and inspirations on this month's theme, about the author, and "The Very Thought of You".

Happy reading!


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

"Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"
-Kathryn Stokett, The Help

Dear members,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. How is everyone enjoying the book, The Help?
One thing's for sure: I know I am absolutely hooked- I find myself smiling many times, laughing out loud at some moments, and felt my eyes tearing up on very touching moments. I can't wait to discuss this book with all of you.
Interested in knowing a bit more about the book and the film? Here is author Kathryn Stockett's website:
For the film's website:
( I must say, I really like the soundtrack to the film).
Speaking of which, our fourth meeting is right around the corner! The members have voted via Doodle, and  it will be taking place this Saturday, September 17th at 12:00-2:00pm at Marche, located inside Brookfield Place.

Shortly after the meeting those who are interested in checking out the film version of "The Help" will be able to do so, as there will be a 3:45pm showing at Rainbow Cinemas Market Square.
Here is a trailer for the film, and a film clip to go with!

See you on Saturday!

Until then,


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Our August Book Club Pick Selection

An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books...and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy- Augustine Birrell

Dear all,

August is upon us, and with it comes a new book club pick!

Our third meeting took place at the Reading Room at Hart House, which was lovely- we ended up having a fun time eating light snacks and a round of Murder Mystery in light of our previous book club pick, Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express".

We now turn to our August book club pick: Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. 
She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. 
Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi.She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends-view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Here is a great clip that depicts an interview with the author, where she talks about the novel and its success.

I can't wait to get started on this book- fortunately enough I was able to acquire a signed copy of "The Help"- which I will treasure.

Throughout this moth, I will continue to post all things Kathryn Stockett and "The Help"- tune in for more blog posts!

Until then, happy reading! Feel free to discuss with each other through the comments box.