Families leave us with a lifetime of dusty memories.
Can we respect their significance and move past their sentimentality sated with love?
17 Bookers gathered to discuss this novel by the bestselling author of twenty-four books published in more than twenty languages. A Diane Chamberlain book is about relationships and her background in psychology provides knowledge of what makes people tick and she uses that skill to create diverse and multi-layered characters. In The Silent Sister the protagonist, Riley MacPherson, is the only one trustworthy in a large cast of players, each with individual agendas, motivations, and secrets. Ms. Chamberlain uses the prologue to let us in on the big secret that drives the novel by strongly hinting that Riley’s sister Lisa, who she thought had died twenty years ago, was alive. As the story unfolds, secrets are revealed, which gradually leads us to completing the puzzle, answering who, why, and when for each character.
If you take the elements of story and the characters involved, it’s staggering to list how many subjects are touched on in his wonderful novel. We have a musical prodigy accused of murdering her violin teacher whose father and friend, both ex U.S. Marshalls skilled at making people disappear, help fake her suicide. We have a brother who’s a mentally troubled Iraq war veteran living like a hermit on the edge of a family owned trailer park who says, “It’s not my mind that’s sick…it’s my soul.” We have a mother’s best friend, who turns out to be more than a friend to a father, and a sister who finds out she’s a daughter and her biological mother is part of a lesbian couple who have two adopted children. And the list goes on, but in spite of all the twists and turns, the novel is “parceled out so skillfully, that disbelief remains until the satisfying if not entirely plausible ending.”
Our discussion revolved around what overall message the author tried to communicate to the reader. Was it family secrets, relationships, or what lengths we would go to protect our family? We talked about why Frank felt the need to pay Tom $500.00 a month for years to keep the secret that Lisa was alive since Tom stood to lose as much if not more if he revealed his part in the suicide plan. The question of why Danny was so angry with Lisa revealed conflicting opinions. On one hand, he felt deprived as a child because his parent’s world revolved around Lisa’s music, and even after her so-called death, his mother fell into a deep depression, keeping Lisa at the forefront of the family even after she was gone. Another theory centered on his age at the time of Lisa’s death…he was old enough to feel the full impact of her loss and to doubt his importance within the family unit. I forgot to ask the question that had been bothering me, and as it turns out, the answer is in Chapter 18. Who was the woman in the prologue watching as the police tried to remove the yellow kayak from the frozen river? The answer is subtle, and the author wishes she had been clearer as she’s asked that a lot, but it was Verniece. We discussed the importance of the pendant as it tied the story all together, and whether or not the violin teacher’s wife ever found out the truth. And, as always, we shared personal stories related to families and relationships and even talked about a “suppressed desire party”….who would you be? I can see the party-planners’ wheels churning already.
On the business side:
ROOM, the movie, is due out in the fall. Emma Donoghue began drafting the screenplay even before the novel published. We’ll be able to see the story of a little boy, Jack, growing up with his mother in a locked room and we hope to be able to witness this as a group. Details to follow.
Pulitzer Prize winning author of Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout, will release My Name is Lucy Barton on January 16, 2016 where a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all – the one between mother and daughter.
We discussed Geraldine Brooks’ new historical fiction, The Secret Chord, about the most famous boy harpist, King David. On the recommendation of Patty Evans we’ve chosen it as our January selection.
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE: LIGHT READ
PINK: MODERATELY CHALLENGING
November 10th The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Home of: Melanie Prebis
Reviewer: Bernie Crudden to spearhead the project with Pat Faherty, Kay Robinson, Sandy Molander, and Mary Jacobs
December 8th: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Holiday Brunch, Bonnie Magee, Food Czar
Home of: Jean Alexander
January 12, 2016: The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
Home of: Rebecca Brisendine
Reviewer: Patty Evans
February 9th: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Home of: Daryl Daniels
Reviewer: Jean Alexander
March 8th: TBD
April 12th: TBD
May 10th or Wine & Cheese evening meeting
May 17th: Backup date
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Home of: Bonnie Magee (tentative)
Reviewer: Jean McSpadden