Claretta The Woman Who Died for Mussolini _Paperback_ - DOC

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					                             Notes from the Meeting of
              Women’s Connection Book Club of Wednesday, April 16, 2008
                           at Louise Todhunter’s home

Thanks to Carol for leading the discussion of Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris.
Louise was a good sport to have us since Barb was (literally) off her feet. Thanks for making
your famous scones!

Next meeting is Wednesday May 21. Karen will be taking over for me since I’ll be
away. The book is The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.
Jennifer is leading the discussion. The meeting will be at Evelyn McNee’s – 4681
Francis Penn Road, 883-9046.

Follow-up to the tea with Theresa and Edith: Theresa’s books have been purchased for
the reading centre. The centre believes they have all of Edith’s books. I will confirm
the next time I am in. The thank you cards have been delivered to both women (I gave a
plant to Edith as well). Karen and Louise are developing a book plate which we can put in
the books we buy for the centre.

A reminder:
The webiste Louise has constructed for us is at:
It looks so great! I hope you’ve taken the time to check it out!
Can’t say thank you enough, Louise!

Some of you have begun thinking about books we can discuss next
year. I have included two of the suggestions at the end of the
notes. Maybe we can pull a list together to choose from for June’s
meeting. You can let Karen know if you think that is feasible on
May 21.

Other books read this month:

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong
Charlotte Taylor lived in the front row of history. In 1775, at the young
age of twenty, she fled her English country house and boarded a ship to
Jamaica with her lover, the family’s black butler. Soon after reaching
shore, Charlotte’s lover died of yellow fever, leaving her alone and
pregnant in Jamaica. In the sixty-six years that followed, she would find
refuge with the Mi’kmaq of what is present-day New Brunswick, have three
husbands, nine more children and a lifelong relationship with an aboriginal
man. Using a seamless blend of fact and fiction, Charlotte Taylor''s great-
great-great-granddaughter, Sally Armstrong, reclaims the life of a
dauntless and unusual woman and delivers living history with all the drama
and sweep of a novel.

24 Years of House Work and Still a Mess by Pat Schroeder
Pat Schroeder's memoir of 24 years in politics is so enthusiastic it is
easy to forget how difficult her work must have been. She was Colorado's
first congresswoman and one of only 14 female representatives to the House
when she was elected in 1972. "The women in Congress had to wage virtually
every battle alone," she remembers of those early years, "whether we were
fighting for female pages (there were none) or a place where we could pee."
Schroeder takes on a lot in this book; sometimes she barely skims the
surface as she tries to fit tales of politics, childhood, family life, and
her opinions on a thousand disparate issues into less than 250 pages.
Nevertheless, as one of our longest serving female politicians, her story
of life in American politics is a welcome change from the usual political
guy-ographies. Who else can write about being a congresswoman under Nixon,
Reagan (whom she famously called the "Teflon President"), and Clinton? Or
tell of working for women's equal rights back when there was opposition
from "Ladies Against Women," who wore pins that read "I'd rather be
ironing"? This is an optimistic book, a reminder of the possibility of
change through politics.

Time Bites by Doris Lessing
Arguably the grande dame of English letters—the list of her published works
comes to 60-plus—Lessing has always been outspoken about literature,
politics and social issues. The 65 essays and book reviews collected here
range over those topics and others, all declaimed in Lessing's brisk, wry
voice and articulated with pragmatic intelligence. Her literary reviews
always amplify the book at hand; the pieces on Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy
and Jane Austen resonate with fresh insight. Her enthusiastic
reconsiderations of authors who are little read today, including Olive
Schreiner, George Meredith, A.E. Coppard and Walter de la Mare, may pique
readers' curiosity. Another obscure book, about an American prostitute,
comes to light in the fascinating "The Maimie Papers." Six essays discuss
the writer Idries Shah and his books about the mysteries and consolations
of Sufism, which, Lessing claims, were "like a depth charge" and fulfilled
all her philosophical and spiritual needs. Not every reader will be
convinced. There's a tirade against Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia was
Lessing's homeland) and a coruscating indictment of American complacency
before 9/11. The main theme, whether addressed overtly or underlying her
literary criticism, is the indispensable place of books in the life of an
educated person and an enlightened culture. Hers is a clarion call.

Zoli by Colum McCann
McCann chronicles the imperiled world of the Slovakian Roma (Gypsies, to
their enemies) from World War II through the establishment of the Communist
bloc. After the pro-Nazi Hlinkas drown the rest of her family, six-year-old
Zoli Novotna escapes with her grandfather to join another camp of Roma,
where she discovers a gift for singing. At her grandfather's urging, she
also breaks a Romani taboo and learns to read and write. She later becomes
involved with poet Martin Stránský, and her poems, which draw on her Roma
heritage, are promoted by Martin as the harbinger of a "literate
proletariat" and a new Gypsy literature. Her growing fame, however, betrays
her when the Communist government appropriates her work for its project to
assimilate the Roma. Condemned by her own people and, as a Roma, alienated
from the Slovaks, Zoli finds her way to a new home. The narrative switches
between third- and first-person, though it is strongest when narrated by
Zoli. McCann does a marvelous job of portraying a marginalized culture, and
his world of caravans, music and family is rich with sensual detail.

Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman
Combining aspects of a suspense thriller and a romance, and including such
surefire elements as an abandoned baby, a youngster on the verge of
juvenile delinquency who is reformed, two dogs and a supernatural character
who provides the requisite touch of fantasy, Hoffman's new novel has
commercial success written all over it. The town of Verity, Fla., starts to
steam up in May. Verity is full of divorcees, and when one of them is
murdered, Keith Rosen, "Verity's meanest 12-year-old," finds her baby, who
was in fact the object of an aborted kidnapping, and runs away,
instinctively hiding the threatened child. This development brings together
Keith's divorced mother, Lucy, and the town's surly policeman, Julian Cash,
a loner with a tragedy in his past. Despite the murder and a stalking
assassin, this is really a fairy tale: Keith bonds with the baby and tames
a vicious dog; a ghost/angel falls in love and brings redemption to Julian,
and several people begin new lives.

The Vancouver Stories: West Coast Fiction From Canada's Best Writers
(Raincoast Books)
Framed by an incisive introduction from West Coast literary doyen Douglas
Coupland, the wide array of short fiction collected in Vancouver Stories
reveals just how varied Vancouver really is. Discover this great city
through the stories of Pauline Johnson and Emily Carr, through the eyes of
such 20th-century literary giants as Alice Munro, Ethel Wilson and Malcolm
Lowry, and through the words of more contemporary writers such as William
Gibson, Timothy Taylor, Zsuzsi Gartner and Madeline Thien. Spanning a
period of nearly 80 years, the 15 stories in this collection present the
experience of Vancouver--living here, visiting or just passing through--
filtered through the imaginations of some of Canada’s most famous fiction

Of note: The Splendid Table Podcast
A free hour-long podcast of each week's full episode featuring Lynne
Rossetto Kasper. Follow Jane and Michael Stern as they find the best road
food across the country. Listen in to our special guests from the culinary
world, and as always, Lynne takes listeners' calls.

Books suggested for next year:

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of
The Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary put out a call during the
late 19th century pleading for "men of letters" to provide help with their
mammoth undertaking, hundreds of responses came forth. Some helpers, like
Dr. W.C. Minor, provided literally thousands of entries to the editors. But
Minor, an American expatriate in England and a Civil War veteran, was
actually a certified lunatic who turned in his dictionary entries from the
Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Simon Winchester has produced a
mesmerizing coda to the deeply troubled Minor's life, a life that in one
sense began with the senseless murder of an innocent British brewery worker
that the deluded Minor believed was an assassin sent by one of his numerous
Winchester also paints a rich portrait of the OED's leading light,
Professor James Murray, who spent more than 40 years of his life on a
project he would not see completed in his lifetime. Winchester traces the
origins of the drive to create a "Big Dictionary" down through Murray and
far back into the past; the result is a fascinating compact history of the
English language (albeit admittedly more interesting to linguistics
enthusiasts than historians or true crime buffs). That Murray and Minor,
whose lives took such wildly disparate turns yet were united in their
fierce love of language, were able to view one another as peers and foster
a warm friendship is just one of the delicately turned subplots of this
compelling book.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old
Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in
a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial
killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. Alice Sebold's
haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from
heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and
keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen
killer and the sad detective working on her case.

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