Book Club Meeting on August 29, 2019
Charlie introduced the meeting to Geraldine Brooks. She was a war correspondent who met her husband, an American, overseas and married and decided to settle down and raise a family at the age of 38.
She was Australian and went to journalism school at Columbia, graduating in 1983.
Dick – It is a depressing subject. There were lots of archaic words I did not understand. I learned a lot of words.
I did not think about the book after I read it both times I read it. I enjoyed it but it did not leave much of an impression.
I looked at an interview with the author and she commented on the heroic efforts made by so many people in the situation.
Jack – the situation gets worse and worse still, but that held my attention.
Tom – the last paragraph was a slight bone The book should have ended when she and the Vicar waved goodbye.
Charlie – no plot, just a lot of anecdotal events.
Keith – Depressing. I don’t which was more depressing. Caleb’s Crossing or this book. In Caleb’s Crossing the dying woman describes her life.
Bob – each of her books has a connection to an historic document. In this case it was the Dryden poem.
Tom – is this creative non-fiction? The incidents described are true with the insertion of a plot into those events.
Bob - she tries to relate experiences from the viewpoint of the narrators in her stories. This is like the style of writing as Wilkie Collins in the Moonstone who shifts the awareness and dialect of narrators as the plot line shifts from place to place.
Dick – It is really a love story. Her love interests shift through the story from medicine (and a model of an independent woman, my thought) to the preacher and the preacher’s wife, and finally to the love of a new culture and new profession.
Tom – But, it also shows lots of evil in persons, such as her father and Colonel Bradford.
Bob – I would probably be permanently maddened if I was keel hauled.
Dick – The book shows how a desperate situation brings out the best and the worst in persons by contrasting their responses to the situation. Also, these were lead miners, not many lived to old age and lead may have had an effect on their brains and bodies.
Jack – I had a German friend in Stuttgart. After WWII, he made money by salvaging lead from destroyed buildings, mainly the lead supports in leaded glass windows.
I liked the length of chapters and how the book was divided into three chapters. The first part was Leaf Fall, the second part was Spring, although Spring seemed to last for over one year through most of 1665 and 16 chapters and finally another Leaf Fall. Apple picking time is the sole chapter in the latter Leaf Fall part. Each chapter’s title appears somewhere in the text of the chapter.
Dick – tough to grade. Parts I liked and parts depressed me. I enjoyed her other two books. B
Keith – She was telling a story, it had no plot C
Tom – The title implies to me God’s biblical words to Moses, “Thou shall do my wonders” when God was referring to the among other terrible thing the plague on the first born of each Egyptian family. B+
Rob – creative, she created a plot around old times. I made me wonder why bad things happen to good people. The book turned out to be theological for me
It described real people in a bad situation. B
Bob S. – It is a good book, I enjoyed the period writing and the insight into the thinking of the people as they were confronted by the events happening to them. I particularly enjoyed her education in medicinal herbs, which seems to me interesting when compare to the butchery by barbers, as a prelude to modern medicine. A-
Karl – This was a nice read about an interesting topic. I particularly enjoyed the language, style, and period vocabulary. I can think of only one other book (that being a medical text) for which I had to look up more words than I did for this one. On the downside, Anna was a bit too much of a superwoman for believability. Saving the girl's mine in one day was the event that stretched my ability to believe beyond my capacity. And the fairy-tale ending, though nice, was a bit far-fetched. Still, a worthwhile read. B
Jack – A bit of a soap opera. She is a good storyteller. I like her style of writing.
She created an interesting story. B+
Charlie – I enjoy historic fiction. I have read lots of plague related material, but this was the first book that really described what plague was like. The ending did not make sense. A-