Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm glad for a walk by myself. When I can get it.

The Salem book club met the other day at my house, since member G was an overnight guest (with her family) for a few nights. Six members were in attendance.

Our selection was Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (also the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Burning Bright, both of which the Club has read previously.) Like the other two novels, this one explores the life of a historical person, in this case, Mary Anning. Anning was one (if not THE) first to discover dinosaur fossils.

Here are some of the highlights of that conversation:
* At the end of the book, we were all pleasantly surprised to discover that much of the book is factual!
*Mary's lightening strike becomes a metaphor for her life
* The compulsive hunt for fossils is something a few could relate to, but I had to resort to the hunt for a garage-sale treasure. I just don't like dirt that much, I guess.
* Switching perspectives was good for the tempo of the book, which was slower (but none of us found it boring!)
* Elizabeth criticizes Jane Austen for giving girls (like her sister) false hope for marriage prospects - we of course thought that was a bit harsh and misguided! After all, Jane herself never married...
* Women's independence and being able to travel unescorted was one of the side themes in the novel
* Leading with a specific trait (nose, chin, hair, chest, etc...): we were wishing a personality inventory was available, and even brought up having a secret vote for those present. Thankfully it feel through - I'm not sure I want to know that I lead with my blathering tongue!
*The religion vs. science debate at the time was a major theme, and accurate for the time. Human assumptions about God's intentions lead to a lot of conflict. At this time the debate centered around the disbelief that God would allow any of his creatures to face extinction. Interesting!

Other topics discussed:
* How much freedom to give kids, and at what age? CB, on how she didn't get a bike as soon as other kids: "I was a FAST runner."
* Briefly discussed the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo books, but decided they were probably a little too graphic for our group. As I said, "If it had JUST sex and violence, I might have been okay."
* Fear of ticks. I shared my shock & horror when, during my teen years, my mother stripped to her undies on the sidewalk in front of the house to do a full-body check after picking juneberries.
* CB told about open-air showers on a trip in her college years and how, "It's horrible when someone peeks." Yes, indeed! This led to two of us singing, "There's a place in France..." and if you don't know the song, neither did ANYONE else at the meeting!
* The appeal of reading books about art - fictional books. Decided it must be because it's historical and somewhat factual. Several of us enjoy the topic, and we aren't artists or even art buffs.

1 comment:

Noel said...

You might add that you lived in the country as a teen...