Book Discussions

Book Discussions

7:00 PM, St. Ed’s Library
No Registration Needed

Gather with a small informal group in St. Edward’s Library for lively give-and-take of opinions among other friendly parishioners. Anyone who has read the book is invited to and welcome at any or all evenings. A facilitator keeps the conversation moving. This is not a book “club.”

Tuesday, February 21: “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon as he confronts the realities of aging and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. He emerges with a story that crosses the globe and history, exploring questions that range from the curious to the profound.

being-mortal

Tuesday, March 7: “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary Sharratt

Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare. Set in London in 1593, Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy; but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women. The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

darkmask

Tuesday, April 25: “As Close to Us as Breathing” by Elizabeth Poliner

In 1948, a small stretch of the Woodmont, Connecticut shoreline, affectionately named “Bagel Beach,” has long been a summer destination for Jewish families. Here sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec assemble at their beloved family cottage, with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. During the weekdays, freedom reigns. Ada, the family beauty, relaxes and grows more playful, unimpeded by her rule-driven, religious husband. Vivie, once terribly wronged by her sister, is now the family diplomat and an increasingly inventive chef. Unmarried, Bec finds herself forced to choose between the family-centric life she’s always known and a passion-filled life with the married man with whom she’s had a secret years-long affair. But when a terrible accident occurs on the sisters’ watch, a summer of hope and self-discovery transforms into a lifetime of atonement and loss for members of this close-knit clan. Seen through the eyes of Molly, who was twelve years old when she witnessed the accident, this is the story of a tragedy and its aftermath, of expanding lives painfully collapsed. Can Molly, decades after the event, draw from her aunt Bec’s hard-won wisdom and free herself from the burden that destroyed so many others? Elizabeth Poliner is a masterful storyteller, a brilliant observer of human nature, and in As Close to Us as Breathing she has created an unforgettable meditation on grief, guilt, and the boundaries of identity and love.

breathing

Wednesday, May 24: “The Two Family House” by Lynda Cohen Loigman

This story is set in Brooklyn in 1947. In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night. When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak, at war with happiness, almost—but not quite—wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.

twofamilyhouse

Testimonials

“It is so much fun to be able to come to come to the St. Ed’s library, join other parishioners and have an in depth discussion about a book that has really moved you, or conversely one that you really disliked!”

“I try to read most of the discussion books. I love to discuss books and joining up with friends, new and old to discuss a good book is a good time.”