Dear Everything, thanks for introducing ‘that which is beyond understanding, but ‘not beyond loving.’
24 Bookers honored this classic novel by donning 50 shades of purple, sipping grape juice, popping purple grapes, and getting our antioxidant fix with dark chocolate Hershey kisses wrapped in…you guessed it, purple foil. Our guest reviewer, Penny Barshop, even placed a purple plant on the coffee table in hopes we all would take notice and prevent a lightning strike. Many thanks to Donna Walter for offering her home when we needed to move the meeting from Rebecca’s. Bookers member, Rosemary Farmer, was in our thoughts and prayers as she manages life without her husband, Giles. In addition, we sent well wishes for a speedy recovery to Mary Jacob as she heals from a recent surgery.
We welcomed two new members, Joylene Miller and Rebecca Robinson, and we hope they enjoyed their first taste of Bookers and will join us again… and we were delighted to see some returnees to the meeting…you know who you are…you’ve been missed!
The overview and discussion of The Color Purple landed in the passionate hands of Penny Barshop, and we are grateful for her insights in bringing the novel to life for us. I think we all would have benefitted from sitting in her English literature classroom if her dissection of this difficult read were any indication of her thoroughness. “There’s no beginning or end to teaching or learning,” a quote from the book, would apply to this exercise. To summarize the novel, at fourteen Celie had borne and lost two children by a man she thought was her father. She was sold into a marriage to “Mister” who reminded her she is poor, black, and ugly, but the story is the road she travels evolving from a battered invisible wife to a determined self-reliant businesswoman, with a lot of help from her friends.
Most either read the book or had seen the movie, but when asked how many liked it, only a few raised their hands agreeing with some critics calling it disjointed, difficult to establish a time frame, and the epistolary format often rambled and was confusing. The focus of the novel primarily was how the blacks treated each other and lacked the exploration of the white/black issues that still plague our society today. Some felt the Africa section was too long…enough of the leaking roofs… but the author’s intent – to show the similarity between the treatment of African women and their American counterparts; and the characters conversed in their “natural” language, but often causing you to cringe with its brutality. Alice Walker drew from her own background, as did Harper Lee in To Kill A Mockingbird, writing what she knew encompassing forty characters, each jumping off the page with uniqueness and style showing us how they not only survived, but also grew. Within the setting, Georgia to Memphis, to England, Africa and back, we saw hints of the timeline of the novel, (said to be 1910-1940); transportation moved from wagons to cars; named singers performing at the juke joints were popular in the 20’s-40’s; and William Tubman was the President of Liberia in 1944 when the missionaries visited Africa. One puzzle we addressed was why Celie’s husband was referred to as Mister or Mr._____instead of by his first name. We think the answer might be if you give something a name, it becomes real, it belongs to you, and it’s of some value to you as a person. Only at the end of the book does Celie’s Mr.___become Albert…after he begins to respect her as a woman and a person of worth.
This novel mixed Celie, who wrote to God because she was afraid, ashamed and not worthy of a conversation with him, with the flamboyant Shug Avery adding Sophia’s strong personality against her spineless husband, Harpo. Couple that with “mindless racism” within the white community with revenge and perpetual love for an absent sister, and lastly and perhaps most importantly, douse the novel with a spiritual awakening of God versus the God image, encouraging all to see the color purple in everything.
On the business side:
Please note below the March meeting has been moved from the 8th to the 15th due to an unavoidable conflict for both me and MN. We apologize for the change as we try not to rock the boat, but sometimes it’s necessary. We hope you understand. Also, with regard to The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, we have concluded it is not a Bookers’ book due to a number of controversial issues, but merits reading because of the mastery of the author’s prose in the context of a historical fiction. In its place, we’ve chosen If You Find Me, a debut novel by Emily Murdoch, which could be set in Henderson County and taken from the CPS cases files. Two sisters live in an abandoned camper in the woods. Their come-and-go mother suffers from mental illness and is a drug addict, leaving them alone to fend for themselves for two months. The father and social services intervene beginning a new life for both girls.
I’m reading The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, a debut novel by Scott Wilbanks. On the quirky scale its right up there with Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew, not to mention Ove with all the major characters loners discovering life is better when surrounded by great friends. It’s a charming combination of time travel, mystery, magic, murder, and romance…so different and out of my wheelhouse, that I can’t put it down….MN on the other hand had no trouble leaving it on the why am I wasting my time reading this nonsense pile. Let me know if you take the plunge!
COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE: LIGHT READ
PINK: MODERATELY CHALLENGING
February 9th: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Home of: Daryl Daniels
Reviewer: Kay Robinson
March 15th: If You Find Me, by Emily Murdoch
PINK, but a deeper shade due to subject
Home of Rebecca Brisendine, Tentative
Note later date
April 12th: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Home of Kay Robinson
Reviewer: Jean Alexander
May 17th: Wine & Cheese evening meeting
Note later date
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Home of: Beverly Dossett
Reviewer: Jean McSpadden
Summer Break: June, July, & August
Summer Read, TBD
September 13th: Beginning of Bookers’ 12th year
Remember, love transforms and cruelty disfigures the human spirit.