Thursday, 18 December 2014

The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called "a tour de force"by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century          Spain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunge Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

About the Author
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.
She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her most recent novel, Caleb’s Crossing, was a New York Times best seller. Other novels, Year of Wonders and People of the Book,  are international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
Reviews:  The NY Times     The Washington Post     The Guardian


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

 
A guy walks into a bar car and...
From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.
Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.
With Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called "hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving" (Washington Post).


David Sedaris will be appearing at The Winspear Centre in Edmonton on February 23rd, 2015.


 As a child, Sedaris was interested in arts and experimented in the areas of visual and performing arts without much success. After graduating from Jesse O. Sanderson High School in Raleigh, Sedaris briefly attended Western Carolina University before transferring to and dropping out of Kent State University in 1977. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1983, graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987.
After working many odd jobs across Raleigh, Sedaris landed on a weekly Radio program, The Wild Room after the host, Ira Glass of the program discovered Sedaris reading his diary in a Chicago club. The show completely changed Sedaris’ life. Sedaris’ success on The Wild Room led to his National Public Radio debut on December 23, 1992, when he read a radio essay on Morning Edition titled “SantaLand Diaries”, which described his experiences working as an elf at Macy’s department store during Christmas time in New York.


 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy

The story of Where Nests the Water Hen is as pure as the lives of the people in it – and as unforgettable. Set in the remote wilderness of northern Manitoba, this sunny, tender idyll of daily frontier life captures, as few novels ever have, the spirit and the surroundings of the pioneers – not the adventurers and trailblazers who make the headlines, but rather the humble folk who follow after and remain, living out their lives in obscurity to keep the trails open.

Where Nests the Water Hen, Gabrielle Roy’s second novel, is a sensitive and sympathetic tale that captures both the innocence and the vitality of a sparsely populated frontier.


About the Author
Born in Saint Boniface (now part of Winnipeg), Manitoba, Roy was educated at Saint Joseph’s Academy. After training as a teacher at the Winnipeg Normal School, she taught in rural schools in Marchand and Cardinal and was then appointed to Provencher School in Saint Boniface.

With her savings she was able to spend some time in Europe, but was forced to return to Canada in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. She returned with some of her works near completion, but settled in Quebec to earn a living as a sketch artist while continuing to write.

Her first novel, Bonheur d’occasion (1945), gave a starkly realistic portrait of  the lives of people in Saint-Henri, a working class neighbourhood of Montreal. The novel caused many Quebeckers to take a hard look at themselves, and is regarded as the novel that helped lay the foundation for Quebec’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. The original French version won her the prestigious Prix Femina in 1947. Published in English as The Tin Flute (1947), the book won the 1947 Governor General’s Award for fiction as well as the Royal Society of Canada’s Lorne Pierce Medal. Distributed in the United States where it sold more than three-quarters of a million copies, the Literary Guild made The Tin Flute a feature book of the month in 1947. The book garnered so much attention that Roy returned to Manitoba to escape the publicity.

     Kirkus Reviews





Friday, 10 October 2014

Bend like the Willow by Susan Glasier


Bend like the Willow by Alberta author Susan Glasier is a many-layered story of a young naïve American girl who sets out for her first year of university and finds instead a shocking introduction into a cross-cultural marriage of contradiction, mystery and eventual heartbreak. "If I take you to my country," he tells her, "you must learn to bend like the willow or you will snap."
Along the path to bending like the willow, she discovers that life in post-war Algeria with two babies is as fraught with danger and sadness as is the man she married. Both are burdened with hopes and expectations that can never be fulfilled. When war breaks out in the Middle East, he sends her away with his children promising they can return when there is peace.
In the end, Bend Like the Willow is the tale of a woman who loves a man and a man who loves his country. He is so committed to honouring his love of country and tradition that he fulfills the promise he made to his wife's father—even though it means breaking apart four lives.
"Susan Glasier has written a riveting memoir that reads like a novel. Bend Like the Willow is one of those rare books that gets under your skin and enters the bloodstream. It left me in tears."—Wolfgang Carstens, Epic Rites Press

"I couldn't put Bend Like the Willow down—read it in two nights—it really got my attention."—Roy Cust, R C Appraisals
Author Website: bendlikethewillow.ca 
 
 
 
 
Reviews




Friday, 12 September 2014

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden


The Orenda opens with the kidnapping of Snow Falls, a spirited Iroquois girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation's great warriors and statesmen. Although it's been years since the murder of his family members, they're never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter; he sees that the girl possesses powerful magic, something useful to him and his people on the troubled road ahead... .
 Christophe does not see himself as a threat, however. A charismatic Jesuit missionary, he has found his calling amongst the Huron, devoting himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. As an emissary from distant lands, he brings much more, though, than his faith to the new world.


As these three souls dance one another through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars, and a nation emerges from worlds in flux. Powerful and deeply moving, The Orenda traces a story of blood and hope, suspicion and trust, hatred and love.
Reviews

   The Globe and Mail

    The National Post

    Muskrat Magazine

   The Telegraph

                                                             Biography

 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Best of 2013 - 2014



We've had a really great reading list this year and picking just one book was too difficult!  In fact for a long while we had three contenders.  Finally we settled on two books.... 


Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson.

Out Stealing Horses is a book rich in material to discuss. Its characters are vivid and complex; they are secretive or, perhaps, discrete. Trond, a young boy of fifteen in post-war Norway, observes and participates in events that he will only truly understand when he is sixty-seven and living in the woods once again. It is a powerful unfolding of his past. The seemingly simple story reveals the complexity of people and of life as layers of the story are peeled back over time. This is a novel of place and of people. It is extremely well-written and thought provoking.



Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

All Fireside Readers attending agreed that Indian Horse is a fine, fine book. In particular, we responded to the simplicity and cadence of the writing. Indian Horse flowed as if it were a told, rather than written story. The language was deceptive - it was easy to read, however, it was not easy to take, and we all had strong emotional responses to Saul’s story.
The story felt real. We felt betrayed like Saul had been, as the extent of Father Leboutiler’s perfidy was revealed. And we wept. Rage was there too, at the church, at our government and at our society that so carelessly allowed all that abuse to happen.





P.S.  Check out A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash - it's another fine book club read!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier




Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter's attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings - the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings.

In contrast to her work in her master's studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.

On the verge of womanhood, Griet also contends with the growing attentions both from a local butcher and from Vermeer's patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. And she has to find her way through this new and strange life outside the loving Protestant family she grew up in, now fragmented by accident and death.

As Griet becomes part of her master's work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even - as the scandal seeps out - ripples in the world beyond

About the Author

Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington, DC but has lived in England all her adult life, and now has dual citizenship (but kept the American accent). She has a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio, and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. Tracy lives in London with her English husband and son. Before turning to writing full-time, she was a reference book editor for several years. She has written seven novels. Her second novel, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, sold 4 million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson







             

Reviews

Kirkus
New York Times




Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash



A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past—A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.

About the Author
 
Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME. A native of North Carolina, he has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has held residency positions at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina.
 
Author Website: www.wileycash.com
 
Reviews
 
 
 
 
 
 



Thursday, 13 March 2014

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July.Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day--an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.




About the Author

Per Petterson, born in Oslo, Norway in 1952, worked for several years as an unskilled labourer, trained as a librarian, and worked as a bookseller, writer, and translator before publishing his first work, Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (Ash In His Mouth, Sand In His Shoe), a volume of short stories, in 1987. This book was proclaimed one of the decade's most sensational debuts.

Since then he has written a book of essays and several novels that have established his reputation as one of Norway's most significant fiction writers. These are Ekkoland (1989), Det er greit for meg (1992), To Siberia (1996), In the Wake (2000), Out Stealing Horses (2003), Månen over Porten (2004), and I Curse the River of Time (Jeg forbanner tidens elv) (2008 . For To Siberia, Petterson was nominated for the Nordic Council's Literary Award and nominated for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. For In the Wake he received the prestigious Norwegian literary prize, Brageprisen, and the novel was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Out Stealing Horses was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK, as well as both the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize and the Norwegian Critics' Award for best novel. In 2006, the novel was also named one of the 25 best Norwegian books the last 25 years by the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.


Reviews

The NY Times
The Telegraph