Friday, 5 August 2016

Our Best Book Club Books 2015 - 2016

by Colum McCann

Again we have chosen as our best book of the reading season one that members found both fascinating and frustrating. Here's a segment of Anita's introduction to our discussion of Transatlantic:

The story starts in 2012 in a Irish cottage by the edge of a lough (bay or inlet) as a woman wakes and listens to the gulls dropping shells on the slate roof. It ends in 2011 with Hanna in her cottage. It is implied that her guests Aoibheann and David Manyaki are writing an offer to purchase the cottage. In between, the book moves from 1919 to 1845 to 1998 to 2011 with somewhat interwoven stories of historical and fictional characters as they move back and forth between North America and Ireland.

The broad span of time encompassed by the novel as well as the interweaving of the threads of the characters' lives pose many challenges for the reader. The frustrations and rewards of reading this book were about equal in measure. All the Fireside Readers members at the meeting acknowledge McCann's command of the material and the beauty of his writing.

Honourable Mention

Close second in the choice of favourites for the year was the pairing of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravtiz, the first novel to really draw the spotlight to the writing of Mordecai Richler, and Barney's Version, considered the masterwork of the novelist. There's much to recommend such a book club pairing; we can see and compare the work of the young cynical Richler with the mature work of the much more cynical Richler. It was a great evening of discussion between those who love Richler and those who love to hate him!

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