Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Little Stranger Discussion

strangerThis morning we met to discuss The Little Stranger, the 2009 novel by Sarah Waters. There were a range of responses to the book, with several people disliking it and several people enjoying the creepiness of the Gothic horror story.

One of the most prevalent discussions of the book revolved around class. The crumbling class structure of British 1940s is everywhere in the book, from the very obvious decaying Hundreds Hall to Dr. Faraday’s unspoken but clearly obvious desire to better his own class.

We also discussed who or what the “little stranger” of the title really was – was it supernatural, or was it mental instability of people who were losing their entire lives in front of their eyes? Was it possibly Faraday himself, who is certainly unreliable in his telling of the story? Because the author leaves the question deliberately ambiguous, the consensus of the Book Clubbers was that it was a somewhat unsatisfying end. We all wanted to know the answer! Continue reading


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The Good Lord Bird Discussion

good lord birdThe book club met yesterday morning to talk about The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. The discussion was spirited and far-reaching, including discussions of current events as well as the historical realities of John Brown’s time.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion revolved around comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, which many reviews have noted. Some of the book clubbers thought this was a valid comparison, given the dialect, the humor, and the satire, but some didn’t quite see it.

One book club member brought a biography of John Brown in order to talk about the accuracy of the book’s portrayal of Brown. Most of the broad strokes of Brown’s life were true to all accounts, but some of the specific actions of secondary characters were embellished or completely created by McBride.

Because this book was based on real events and real people, we also discussed some of the additional secondary characters, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Douglass does not get a particularly positive treatment in the book, but we discovered no basis in reality for these descriptions.  Continue reading

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Book Club Meeting Tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning, July 15, at 10 am, we will be meeting to discuss John Brown and Henry (Onion) Shackleford in the novel The Good Lord Bird. What did you know about John Brown, aka the “Old Man,” before reading this book? Did it change your views at all?

And if you get a chance, watch this interview with the author James McBride before then. He has a lot of interesting things to say about the book.

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MCL Book Club Selection for July: The Good Lord Bird

good lord birdJoin us on Wednesday, July 15 at 10AM for a discussion of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Mistaken for a girl on account of his curly hair, delicate features, and sackcloth smock, 12-year-old slave Henry Shackleford realizes that his accidental disguise affords him greater safety and decides to remain female. Dubbed “Little Onion” by his liberator, abolitionist John Brown, Henry accompanies the increasingly fanatical Brown on his crusade to end slavery — a picaresque journey that takes them from Bloody Kansas to Rochester, New York, where they attempt to enlist the support of such notables as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman before embarking on the infamous, ill-fated 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. — from NoveList

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Burial Rites Discussion

Burial RitesToday the Morris County Book club met to discuss our February selection, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. We printed out several pictures of Hannah Kent’s photo essay of her Icelandic trip to give a sense of setting for the discussion.

People were divided in their opinions of the book. There were some who thought it was slow and meandering – and not in a good way (at least in the beginning). Others were instantly captivated by the story. A few people had not realized it was based on a true story, and they spent much of the book hoping that she would escape her fate. Others went into the story knowing how Agnes’ life would end, which only added to the bleakness of the storyline and landscape.

Most of the readers had a great deal of sympathy for the character of Agnes, even if they didn’t necessarily understand or relate to her. There was a feeling of powerlessness in her place in society that led us to empathize with her in a way that many of the other characters did not.

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Agnes – The Movie

Burial Ritesour February Book Club book, tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir’s life after being convicted of murder in 1829. She was the last person executed in Iceland. In 1995, an Icelandic movie was made detailing her story as well. It was directed by Egill Eðvarðsson, and you can see the trailer below:

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Burial Rites Book Trailer

Check out the book trailer for Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, our February book club selection.

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