Wednesday, February 7, 2018: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles:
Most of the group were charmed by this cleverly constructed and wryly humorous novel, one participant finding it the most enjoyable she’d read recently. One participant likened it to a kaleidoscope of characters and encounters which emerged over the decades-long imprisonment of Count Rostov in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution and ending at the height of the Cold War. The Count acknowledges the sea of suffering going on around him with a few understatements and a couple of footnotes, but is otherwise cheerful and gracious, de rigueur behavior for a gentleman of his class. This attitude irked one participant in particular who found it glib. Most of the group, however, would definitely recommend this novel. MH

 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018: Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty:

We all thought it was a well-written novel. One participant called it “an achingly beautiful read.” However, our judgements were based on conflicting reasons. Some thought Stella and Gerry's relationship was worth saving, considering their long marriage and the way they did things out of habit and routine and could have different opinions without it causing arguments. They shared a great sense of humour and limited their daily exchanges about their health issues to an hour they called ‘organ recitals’. Gerry recognized how valuable Stella was to him even though he could not share her strong religious beliefs. This book left other discussion participants with almost the opposite impression of Stella and Gerry’s marriage. Is it a good relationship when couples avoid conflict and talking about their innermost needs and desires? Hadn’t she organised this trip to Amsterdam under false pretences, yearning to find a way to leave him and his alcoholism? Was it admirable or irresponsibly neglectful that Stella always tried to just ignore his drinking? Our personally different attitudes towards coping in relationships made this the perfect book for an enriching book discussion. DD