Monday 7 May 2012

Book talk on Monday evening...

Well, I thought I'd try posting at a different time this week for a number of reasons.  First, I probably have a bit more energy on Monday evenings than I do on Thursdays, for obvious reasons.  I also had my book discussion on Saturday, so I feel I can comment better and present the highlights of our discussion more accurately now rather than nearly a week later.  And I was thrilled to receive a comment today from the author of Chai Tea Sunday (see comments for the last entry), so wanted to let her know about my progress with her novel.

I'll start tonight's post with the highlights of the book group discussion.  Remember we read To Kill a Mockingbird, and I admitted that reading this novel did not change my life?  Well, it clearly changed the lives of all of the book club members, both as a film and as a book, and it is a book that everyone has read more than once.  They LOVED it!!  Why did they love it?  Because it was so "real"; because it pointed out so many prejudices in society; because it was semi-autobiographical; because it was so powerful; because it illustrated how innocent children are, and how they see the world so differently from most adults.  We discussed possible reasons for Scout and Jem calling their father Atticus instead of dad:  because he wanted to make them feel like equals and to think for themselves; because he doubted his abilities in the role of "father" (remember, he repeatedly comments, usually to his sister Alexandra, that he's "doing the best he can with them"); because his is an unconventional household where even Calpurnia is considered part of the family, among other speculations.  We discussed the prejudices in society:  the book dealt directly with attitudes toward Negroes, there is a brief mention of Nazis at the end of the book, and there is of course class and gender prejudices.  While the children seemed to be able to look beyond most of these prejudices, they also held some prejudices, such as their belief that Boo Radley was a monstrous creature living in their neighbourhood.  Perhaps this was included in the novel intentionally, as they were able to let go of this prejudice and embrace the truth in the end much more freely and willingly than the adults in the town.  We discussed Atticus as a role model for the children and for the society as a whole.  The children learned from him, and he behaved in a way that would lead by example.  In the novel, someone commented that Atticus behaved the same indoors as he did in public, and I'm sure these are characteristics he would have tried to instill in his children, but again, also in society.  He acted responsibly and respectfully towards everyone he met.  We also discussed how the law must be flexible and adaptable to the individual situation, that it is cannot be applied in the same way to everyone; for example, poaching laws must be applied differently to Bob Ewell or his children would starve; and the law must ultimately be applied differently to Boo Radley out of respect for him.  Much of our discussion was about the film, and since I'd never seen it, I checked it out of the library that afternoon and watched it Saturday night.   It was difficult to watch the film so soon after reading the book and not comment to my husband about what was in the book that was missing in the film, or what was different in the film, or what was added to the film, but I think the story stayed basically true to the book.  I can understand why people would be drawn into the story, both the film and the novel.  It has all the elements of a great story - precocious children, opinionated townspeople, unconventional families, serious social situations, loss of innocence, someone who wants to influence the town towards change, among other elements.  But I must admit it still did not become significant to me.  I hope that doesn't indicate some sort of deficiency in this reader!!  I'll just accept that I didn't "get" it.  (The same is true of Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger - no matter how many times I read it, I just don't "get" it, although I understand its significance theoretically.)

I'll admit that, after I finished my post last Thursday, I opted for the "microwave dinner" book choice and picked up a Ruth Rendell mystery.  The first one I tried was Portobello Road, which is a stand-alone and didn't do anything for me so I put away after a few pages.  Next I tried Babes in the Woods, part of the Inspector Wexford series, but that also did not grab me so I put it away, too.  I tried a few different novels over Friday evening and Saturday.  One novel was Tell It To the Trees by Anita Rau Badami, a Canadian author from India.  I really enjoyed her novel Tamarind Mem, but others I've read or tried to read by Badami haven't quite measured up for me.  This one was no exception.  I think it may be timing, as it has many of the elements that I love in a novel - family secrets, inter-generational turmoil, misunderstandings, and it's by a Canadian author.  I'll try it again another time.

On Sunday morning, as I settled down for an hour of reading with a steaming cup of chai tea, I again picked up Chai Tea Sunday (how could I not pick that novel up?!), and read quite a bit more than I had the previous Thursday.  In style, the writing reminds this reader of Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice and Left Neglected.  Although the story presents an experience for the main character with which I cannot personally identify, I was moved nonetheless.  I will write more once I have read more (or all!) of the novel, but it's moved from "not really grabbing me" to "I want to read more" (I'm not just saying this because I think the author may be reading this - I really mean it!!)  If, however, the author would like to contact me directly, she is welcome to send another comment letting me know and maybe passing along an email address - the comments come to me first before being published on the blog, so it is safe and I can certainly keep her contact information private.  For now, I will close, as I want to have some time to read tonight before it gets too late.

Bye for now!

PS WOW, I've done alot of "admitting" in this post!  I must really trust my readers and feel the need to confide in someone or unburden myself with some of my recent reading decisions.  Perhaps blogging is becoming some sort of bibliotherapy for me!!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't really enjoy Catcher in the Rye :( Everybody else in the world seemed to like it but not me!
    I actually placed Tai Chi Sunday on hold at the library but had to send it back because I didn't have time to read it at the time.
    I'll give it another go-on your say so =)
    So neat that the author responded to your post!