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The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
 
Fun, Adventurous, Interesting
All members found reading the book enjoyable. One would not recommend it highly.

Northglenn Reads enjoyed this book. Some of us are from the midwest and we recognized the characters. We found Harveyville on the map, and talked a little about Mattie Spenser, another Dallas title, and what a "soddy" was, and what kind of house came even before the soddies.

We talked about women we knew who were also in Velmas position, and realized that "unwed mothers" are still in a heartbreaking situation today. Those of us who read the book twice were intrigued by the hints of mystery throughout the story. When Queenie says Ella would be upset by hearing about finding his body, not shocked by his death, we get a portent of what's to come. Some of us liked Queenie, some felt she was not as forthright as she seemed, and used the rhubarb pie as an example of subtrafuge. This aspect engaged us...and it linked to how and why they didn't want Lizzie Olive in the Pickles, and how Tom and Queenie treated the drifters. We also had some quilt books to browse through, and found the "Double Ax" or "Friendship" quilt design. What was Rita telling them with that pattern?

We made a "celebrity quilt" with our names on it and took pictures. Sandra Dallas lives nearby, and when we told her about our plans, she said "Sounds like you'll have more fun than the Pickles".

Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts
 
Adventurous, Beautiful, Fun
A perfect foil for Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance

If you liked A Fine Balance, you will love this book, too. It is a wonderful inside look at the slums of India, and the beauty and kindness and humor of the people is so uplifing, even in the middle, especially in the middle of all that poverty. The fact that the author's life so closely parallels the story in the book lends it credibility. I highly recommend this book to any book club willing to tackle its size and depth. Not particularly literary, but totally enthralling.

 
Adventurous, Interesting, Dramatic
We had 7 members rate this book as 8 out of 10 points.

Found it thrilling and alarming and scary. What a page turner at the end. Following up by watching the Nova special "Hitlers Lost Boat".

 
Interesting, Informative, Slow
Sparkling conversation

We all agreed that this author was scupulous in providing a balanced account of both sides of this tragic story. The Hmong traditions and history were fascinating, and the medical mistakes and heroic efforts were commendable. We have a significant Hmong population in our area and appreciated learning a little about their world view. We wish Western medicine had a little of that view as well.

It was one of our best meetings because it seemed that we all had really interesting insights. I provided a million little pieces of paper with discussion questions on them but we hardly needed them.

 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Our readership is getting discriminating. Not considered well written.

Our discussion followed the expected course, pondering stem cell research, cord vs embyonic, breakthroughs since 2004. Whether we liked Sara, what Kate might have said to Anna, whether any 13 year olds can contact lawyers so easily, where are the pawn shops and are they in safe neighborhoods, why did it have to end the way it did..but I sensed that this book club is moving beyond the easy read, and that we are most enthralled with a more thoughtful, well written account of an issue, and that the good story with some humor is fine, but not worth discussion. Several of us did go on to read other Picoult works..but a few were just plain disappointed with the easy read. New dynamic..we have our first man joining...

Pope Joan: A Novel by Donna Cross
 
Dramatic, Informative, Interesting
Was there really a female pope? Read this book and imagine.

Regardless of the facts of long forgotten history, we really enjoyed the book. We all (women) hoped that the story was somewhat true.

 
Informative, Slow, Adventurous
Gertrude Bell roamed the deserts of Mesopotamia and served the British Empire.

We liked the book, insofar as she lived an interesting life. Some of us couldn't stand the purple prose, and some of us didn't notice it. Discussion was lively, and a better understanding of the politics of the Middle East would have helped guide it. We discussed how "the sun never set on the British Empire", and the position of women vis a vis class structure, wealth, and suffrage.

 
Informative, Interesting, Slow
Columbian Exposition, Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer. White City vs Black City...good v evil?

Large group liked the book. Each saw something different in it. Most believed the story of the fair could have stood on its own, no need for Mudgett/Holmes story. We could have used some pictures...couldn't quite visualize the Ferris wheel. Of course, we served Cracker Jack.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Compare Great Gatsby with Richistan. Surprise, no difference. Rich are getting richer. And careless of the little people.

We appreciated reading a classic, and of course discussed what a classic was and why. Spent as much time on the characters and the story as on lit crit about East V West, the Wasteland, Henry James, and symbolism. Inspired to read other Minnesota writers like Sinclair Lewis.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
 
Interesting, Inspiring, Dramatic
Autobiography of an unusual childhood featuring poverty and homelessness

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
 
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Two women in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

Of course book club members liked this book and many took home more titles from the "If you liked this book.." We discussed the relationship between the women, the purpose of the title, the idea of it being a love story and compared and contrasted with The Kite Runner.

 
Isabella Lucy Bird Bishop travels around the world and writes. This volume describes her months traveling in Colorado and living in Estes Park.

Most of us didn't finish it. Her writing was fine, some stories interesting, but not enough to hold our interest. Research into her life before and after writing this book was more fruitful. She was crippled with pain while living in Scotland/England, but rode for days on her travels.

 
Dark, Epic, Beautiful
Nepalese uprising in West Bengal in 1980s backdrop for love story

Nine members of the book club did not finish the book. Great disappointment in the choice. Three finished it and found it interesting. People couldn't get past the long descriptions, the tangential characters, the lack of storyline and disjointed narrative. One one person loved it for the language, the use of imagery, and the opportunity to understand the consequences of the decay of the British empire and the sensibilities of diaporic Indian writers.

Atonement by Ian Mcewan
 
No one loved it. Some struggled through it. Those who read for language liked it.

We discussed the literary allusions (Woolf, Austen, Dante, Henry James, etc.) and the idea of atonement. The first section was hard going, most continued through the second and third with ease. Some hadn't realised the double ending, and in fact, did Briony actually do what the story is about? Those who saw the movie thought it was a very good rendition of the book.

 
Finding a Caravaggio painting

This book is very interesting if you care at all about art and art restoration. Mostly it is a narrative with a mystery to solve and leads to follow. People said it reads like fiction and indeed there are little vignettes of trips and meals and feelings of the young women who are researching this lost painting and torn in loyalties to professors, grant applications, and Italian families. I just ended up googling the ending because I stopped caring about the details of the restoration process.

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