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Archive for the ‘Fiction Titles’ Category

sweet toothOn Monday, November 4th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

Only one person in the group loved the book. All the other members thought that it was hard to get through and even though they liked the last chapter, they did not think that it was worth reading the entire book to get to.

No one thought that this was truly a spy novel. There was nothing life-threatening or dangerous about the book even though the element of surprise and the fear of the unexpected are both there for the reader.

The majority of the group did not like reading the three short stories that were embedded in the novel. They thought it was confusing and did not add to the storyline.

We talked about the differences between MI5 and MI6.

None of the group thought they would have liked the story better if it had less romance and more intrigue.

The group thought that the men in Serena’s life were poorly portrayed. Jeremy deceiving Serena in regards to his sexuality, Tony as an older man trying to form Serena’s believes, and Max who lead Serena on by not telling her that he was engaged. One member thought that could have been because she felt that Tom was telling the story and not Serena. If she was telling the story they may have come across differently.

Also no one thought that Serena was a likeable character. Again one member thought that may have been because Tom was telling the story and that he was feeling betrayed and hurt by Serena and may have been looking for a bit of revenge in describing her.

We were all disappointed in Tony’s ending. The blood on the mattress had us all wondering what really happened to him and then to find out he just had a bloody nose was anti-climactic. But again it could have been Max’s story that was changed as a cover-up to what really happened.

We talked about whether Serena ended up with Tom in the end. One member thought that she did end up with Tom otherwise the novel would have been destroyed and never published.

All of the group thought that Max would do something to destroy Serena and Tom’s relationship.

We talked about Shirley and most of us liked her but was unsure of why she was fired and if Serena ended up working for her.

One member wondered if perhaps this was a true story. The group thought it could have been but for several reasons it could not have been published as such.

We also hoped that Serena’s father was passed away when this book was published because it made it appear that Serena slept with everyone she came across. But again this could have been because of who was really telling the story.

We also talked about the fact that the film rights to this book was sold so it could possibly be made into a movie. Some of us thought that it will have to be re-written but would be willing to see it if it came out as a film.

We ended the meeting with high hopes for our next book. These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

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sweet toothJoin us to discuss…

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Monday, November 4th
11:00 am
Meeting Room B

In this stunning novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since Atonement is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction.

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one.

Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self. (review courtesy of goodreads.com)

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 Ian-McEwan-006

Listen to the NPR interview with Ian McEwan, ‘Sweet Tooth’ Pits Spy Vs. Scribe.

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Ian McEwan talks about writing and researching his novel Sweet Tooth.

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Mark-Twain2On Monday, October 7th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

Everyone in the group thought the dialect was difficult to understand. Most of us had to re-read the passages several times.

In our discussion today we talked about “Nature versus Nurture” and most of us thought that Tom’s (Chambers) overindulgent upbringing was responsible for his flaws and failures. He definitely had a sense of entitlement that was fostered in him by his Father, Aunt and Uncle. In addition, Roxy’s favoritism toward Tom over Chambers did not help him to become a better man.

We talked about the role of Roxy in the switching of the babies and the fact that there were no repercussions for her. She essentially destroyed Chamber’s (Tom) life and yet he still was willing to give her a monthly allowance. We talked about how some children are still devoted to their parents no matter what they did.

There was a lot of discussion about the fact that Tom (Chambers) got away with murder. Since he was considered property, the murder charge was waived and he was sold down river. This was in the year 1853, the Civil War was from 1861-65 so Tom was a slave for possibly 8-12 years and then he probably was set free.

We talked about the difference between a slave in the town and being sold down river.

We laughed at Roxy’s comment to Tom, “what would your father think?” since Tom’s father never acknowledged him while he was alive, what made Roxy think Tom would care what he thought.

Some of us thought that Tom and Chambers had the same father and that is why Roxy was able to switch them so easily. We were all surprised when we learned he was not the father.

Another theme of the book is a very early look at the use of forensic evidence in detective work. In 1830, the time period of the book, fingerprinting was a completely foreign concept. But in 1890 when the book was written, Dr. Henry Faulds had just published an article in the Scientific Journal, “Nature” and was credited with the first finger print identification of a greasy finger print left on an alcohol bottle.

The comment was made about Percy Driscoll, that he is humane towards “slaves and other animals” which really brought home the darker side of our American history.

One of our members asked if we thought that a book like this could be written in this day and age. No one thought it would, even though the language used in the story was the language of the day.

We talked about Wilson’s comment on owning half the dog which seemed odd until you read Twain’s original short story, Those Extraordinary Twins.

We read some of our favorite calendar quotes.

Nobody thought that they would recommend this particular Mark Twain book.

These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

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puddinheadJoin us to discuss…

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

Monday, October 7th
11:00 am
Meeting Room B

At the beginning of Pudd’nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant son’s life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master’s. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertainingly funny, yet biting novels.

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pwpros01As a promotional gimmick, for the book Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Century Magazine, (who bought the rights to the novel for $6500 from Twain) put together a pocket calendar for 1894.  The tiny pamphlet featured one of Pudd’nhead’s ironic aphorisms for each month in the year. It was so popular that a reprinting was done and two slightly different versions of the Calendar is in the Mark Twain Barrett Collection. Take a look if you have a chance. It is pretty amusing. The book was originally published in America, on 28 November 1894, as The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins.

Courtesy of a collection in The Clifton Waller Barrett Library, Special Collections,The University of Virginia Library

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