It’s overcast and rainy right now, but that hasn’t stopped me from transforming the many wonderful offerings I purchased at the market yesterday into lunches and suppers for the coming week. Local leeks, beans, kale, peaches, blueberries, carrots, celery, and much more have gone into the making of a delicious pot of soup and a yummy stir fry. And I baked Date Bread, too, so I’m enjoying a slice with my steeped tea. What a great time of year this is…
I read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline for my Friends Book Club, which will be meeting tomorrow night. I’ve read this novel before for my other book group, and we all loved it, so I wasn’t disappointed when one of my friends suggested it for this group. This novel tells the parallel stories of Molly and Vivian, two women who seem to be polar opposites: Molly is a rebellious seventeen-year-old who has been through a number of foster homes in the past nine years, and her current home is not much better than the others. Vivian is a ninety-one-year-old widow who seems to have lived a rich and full life with her husband until his death, and now leads a quiet, if somewhat reclusive, existence. After an incident at the public library, Molly is forced to put in fifty hours of community service, and Vivian’s housekeeper suggests that she spend that time cleaning out Vivian’s attic. Cleaning out a rich lady’s attic is not exactly an exciting prospect, but she reluctantly agrees. What she finds, however, is anything but boring. Instead she discovers that, as an Irish immigrant, Vivian was part of the thousands of orphan children who, between the 1850s and the 1920s, were gathered up and sent on trains to various towns and cities in the hopes that they would be placed in loving homes, but the reality for many was anything but loving; they were often placed in abusive environments and made to work on farms or in households and were considered little more than cheap labour. Through their time together, Molly and Vivian discover that they are, in fact, very much alike, and they form a bond that may be stronger than any family connection. Based on my previous book club experience with this novel, I think tomorrow night’s discussion will be lively and interesting, and I think everyone will have enjoyed reading and discussing it. One of our members is away and will miss the meeting, but she sent these comments to me:
Just wanted to share with the book club that I really liked that book. It was sad but inspiring and the plot of connecting the "two orphans" was clever and made the book interesting to old and young audiences. It is a book where reading makes you a more empathetic and understanding person and gives hope that even if you think your life is behind you, incredible and great things can happen. That was a beautiful message. I give the book an A! Thank you, my book club, and see you in November.
WOW, that was quite an endorsement, and I agree with everything she said. I would highly recommend it to individual readers and book clubs.
On another note, I was thrilled to find a box from Indigo on my doorstep on Tuesday when I got home from work. I knew what it was, Margaret Atwood's new novel, The Testaments, the sequel to her 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale, which I had pre-ordered back in August. But I was not expecting to receive a cloth book bag in the image of the book cover, with a surprise message on the back. I was ridiculously happy for the rest of the evening, and the excitement has remained with me all week. Unfortunately, I couldn't start reading it right away, as I had to finish my book club selection, and while I'd love to start it today, I hardly have any time to read over the next week and I don't want my reading experience to be disjointed; instead, I want to savour every word of this delicious novel. So I will save it to read the following week, when my husband is gone away and I will have time to read and read and read, as long as I want, with no interruptions (except for the cats!). I first read The Handmaid's Tale in grade twelve, so I guess I'm so excited because I've been waiting for more than 30 years for a sequel I never thought would actually be written. Thank you, Margaret Atwood, for writing this and finally satisfying all your Handmaid's Tale fans by (hopefully!) providing answers to so many of the questions we've been left with. I can't wait to dive in!
That's all for today. Stay dry and keep reading!
Bye for now... Julie