Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NOVEMBER 2015 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

When did you find out who you are…or have you?

                        “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row.”
The poppy is a symbol of support for our veterans; its origin is in this poem written by a Canadian military physician in honor of those who died in a Belgian field in the Great War. We would love to take credit for scheduling this wonderful book the day before we celebrate those who served in the name of freedom, but we “cannot tell a lie”… but coincidences are often timely.

16 Bookers gathered at the home of Melanie Prebis to discuss arguably the most universally accepted Bookers’ selection in our history. One had to look very hard to find fault with Kristin Hannah’s portrayal of two sisters, each providing a tutorial in survival amongst the German occupation of France during World War II. We were happy Leslie was able to join us this month, and a special thank you to Rokhshie Malone for whetting our taste buds with Scotland’s own Walkers pure butter shortbread.

The cast of Bernie Crudden and Company including Mary Jacobs, Pat Faherty, and Kay Robinson, with a cameo appearance from Cherry Fugitt, began the commentary of this novel with Bernie in the voice of Vianne. She told us about the men in her life beginning with the father who gave her away, Antoine, the love of her life, the moral German, Captain Beck, and the vile German, Von Richter, her adopted son, Daniel, and the son conceived by rape who became the salvation to a marriage, Julien. Mother Superior Marie-Therese offered Vianne a perspective that saved her life. “Don’t think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with, and what will break you.” In 1995, when Vianne returned to Paris, her legacy solidified in how she responded to the question of what would you do to keep your family safe? Her son, Julien, knew his mother as ordinary, but he learned how extraordinary she was.

Mary Jacob, in the voice of Isabelle, told of a young girl orphaned at four, abandoned by her father, who spent her entire life trying not to feel disposable. Some might say with reckless abandonment, she defied all odds by championing the message of Charles de Gaulle encouraging the French Resistance movement to the occupation. Her hero, Edith Cavell, saved hundreds of lives in the Great War, saying, “patriotism is not enough.” Following suit, Isabelle adopted the philosophy of being bold rather than meek… “If you jump off a cliff at least you’ll fly before you fall.” Cherry’s comments, read by Pat, indicated Isabelle didn’t look at herself as brave or a hero. She had nothing to lose but herself. Vianne was the epitome of both. She stood up in the face of losing everything, her home, family, marriage, friends, respect, and integrity, but sacrificed whatever it took to keep some bit of normality while staring at despair at every turn.

Kay Robinson asked whom we would identify with, Vianne, the rule follower, or Isabelle, the rebel? We determined the world probably needs an equal share of those who go by the book and those who don’t bother opening it. We shared stories of ancestors and their plights during the war torn years; the war from Europe’s view, shared by Rokhshie growing up in London, painted another picture of the devastation, and if you visit Normandy, the impact of what was lost and gained, is a visual reminder of the sacrifices of war.
This novel told us the story from the women of the war who looked morality in the eye and endured its destruction. This was a two Kleenex box for me.
                                      COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                      WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                                       PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                       RED:              CHALLENGING
December 8th:                         Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Holiday Brunch, Bonnie Magee, Food Czar
                                                Home of: Jean Alexander
                                                Reviewers: TBD
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
                                                Home of Kay Robinson
May 17th                                Wine & Cheese evening meeting
                                                Note later date
                                                A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
                                                Home of: Beverly Dossett
                                                Reviewer: Jean McSpadden

“A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.” Percy Shelley
Happy Reading,

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