December’s book pick was An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks. This book was picked by Sondra
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.
When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.
Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?
But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.
Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?
As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?
An electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.
September’s book pick was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. This pick was brought by D&O member Suhanti.
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.
Book Discussion: Recap curtesy of Shobha
Thanks to Jill stirring up old old memories, I got home with this urge to recap our evening- my first since the unfortunate incident of ‘Lolita’. And as no one was in direct firing range unlike the last time, it seemed somewhat safe to give in.
So let’s see- Book: The Alice Network
Restaurant: Cafe Monte, sweet, well intentioned but slightly ditzy mostly harried server, good food, very good bread, annoyingly dim lighting which even on a non book club evenings makes it hard to see what’s on your plate so just imagine Amy trying to read questions from back of the book written in 8 point Sans Serif font. She looked like a 17th century scholar holding a candle (albeit battery operated one) over an ancient manuscript i.e. adorable. Pictures to follow soon.
Attendees: entire East Indian wing plus one (our darling Anisha) and two third of the West. If not for Anisha’s effervescent self, East made for a sorry sight: sleep deprived Suhanthi and Hetal, nauseous and cranky because of it me. In the absence of rowdy trio, West wing was low-keyed too, basically we didn’t drive any fellow diners away which was a pleasant change.
Discussion: Alice Network received one of the most lackluster thumbs up that I had ever seen. It was hilarious now that I think of it- we all surreptitiously looked at each other just to see who’ll raise their hand first, forget the thumb positions! Amy’s was the only decisive thumbs down done in our signature D&O spirit: she came in liking the book but discussion turned her against it. I opted for sideways -trying to make up for my above mentioned crankiness. Plus Jill called me Katie! That hit me really hard, I was devastated- verra ..verra devastated. Don’t worry- she and I made up later over our mutual love for Twilight series.
What was wrong with the book you ask? Let me count the ways…
1. ‘Questions were lame‘ (Anisha), ‘These are stupid questions!’ (Amy). ‘Didn’t we just answer all that?’ (Hetal) ‘Ok, anyone has anything to say about the book?’ (Jill) to which only Karie responded-though for the life of me I can’t remember with what.
2. Cheesy romance- skin against sweaty skin (Eve w/René), legs hooked or wrapped around (all of them at some point!) errant lock of hair (Finn), lips Iocked (Eve/Cameron) lips lingering (Finn/Charlie) lean, sleek and smooth (René)
3. Disappointing leads- Jill and I hoped that besides Finn & Cameron aka Uncle Edward, René may turn out to be another romantic but flawed hero (he was good looking, excellent and surprisingly not so pervy in bed) ‘He satisfied her sexually!.’ (Suhanthi- cutting to the chase, always bluntly apt). We also thought maybe Charlie’s mom and/or aunt will turn out to have some connections to Alice Network -somehow tying in those infamous pearls as well. That didn’t happen.
4. Lili’s mischievous smile/look over her shoulder in EV-UH-REE situation- on being told Eve had betrayed her, at the check points, over Eve’s sleeping with Rene, being dragged by the German officers- there was no end to her optimism and flirty French-ness. Then it was Rose’s rosy cheeks, blond hair, impish look, white summer dresses.. goddamn Yank, daisy, my pet, C-words thrown around, pansy, och lass, bonny wee, so on and so on —-ad nauseam, ad infinitum.
5. Lack of any secondary characters or sense of place other than maybe old lady outside the burned down church which apparently is word for word from her actual testimony.On a side note- Epilogue/ Author’s note made for much more interesting read.
6. Clichéd and neatly tied up ending(s)- Eve not being the betrayer, Violette forgiving Eve, René‘s hand smashed with the same Baudelaire bust, René killed symbolically by Eve, the perfect ever-after with perfect car and grandma’s pearls for Finn and Charlie (a cincher for Amy’s thumb down verdict), pleased and fluttering parents courtesy of car/pearls (to think it took Lord Grantham a whole season and half to accept Tom the chauffeur- but then he didn’t have a Bentley. Or pearls), Eve’s perfect job as a game hunter because killing René and being a spy made her realize how much she ‘liked to stalk, hunt and kill dangerous things’… ‘so random!’ (Anisha) and lots of eye rolls at that end of the table. Other than that and incomprehensible reason for all of them settling down in the dreaded town of Grasse (‘Why???’ -Anisha) everything else was fine. I highly recommend reading it, you get yo appreciate books like Lolita, Suite Francaise all the more for it.
Our next book is The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb. We should find some haunted house to discuss it- that’ll be so much fun!
November’s book pick was Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. This book pick was brought by Jill.
Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and England is full of informers. At the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control with the murder of Commissioner Robin Singleton. Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, and his assistant are sent to investigate.
Book Discussion: Recap curtesy of Jill.
Book club always makes my holidays happier! Fun evening as usual last night at the Village Tavern. Our waiter, Andrew, was all business. Well, to start. Once he warmed up to us everything changed! For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have (where is Andrew from?, where has Andrew lived in Charlotte?, what hobby/art does Andrew’s partner do?, how much did Andrew make/lose on his real estate?, so many things we can tell you!). And if you’re lucky, you’ll get some free whipped cream. We kicked the night off with bubbles which seemed appropriate for the holiday season. Please remember, Shobha, lotion and wine don’t mix. Crab dip and home made chips for appetizers. Book discussion ensued. Dissolution was met with an even split of thumbs up/thumbs down. More dislike than sympathy for the monks and the hunchback. Agreement that having lived during that time in history would totally have sucked, though Americans are certainly among the “softest” of humans which could be why we think that. We learned that many forms of hunchbackness (kyphosis) are curable with therapies but not all – thank you teacher Jenn! So you know, Dissolution is the first in a series so if you are on the thumbs up side keep reading (they get better!). Dinner was next – not big appetites; burgers and salads mostly and a switch to red wine. Most of us had not been to the Village Tavern in years so was fun to be back. Food was goodish, dessert was super yummy – a giant pound cake fruity thing. Sondra brought book picks. Thank goodness she hates themes because she was leaning towards a self-help theme to kick off the new year. My memory being what it is can not recall any of the books that did not win but I did cheat and bring the winning paper home with me so I am able to let you know the book pick for January is An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen. Last but not least…book exchange! We voted no stealing and took turns alphabetically by middle name. Unsurprising to some of us that one book was duplicated, Flowers in the Attic. Amy and I both brought that as our favorite teenage book and I think Karie (or maybe Jenn) and Sondra went home with them (Sondra with the bonus copy that includes the next book Petals on the Wind). I chose Shobha’s thinking I was getting a Harlequin romance but even better than that received The Thorn Birds. Amy chose a book of poetry brought by Jenn. Shobha and Jenn were seated furthest from me and I am going to blame that on why I don’t remember what books they chose but I’m sure they were lovely. Oh wait, Shobha got Karie’s book which was a lovely copy of Wuthering Heights (maybe)? Well, you can see I have was having a lovely evening and I’m sure if you are interested someone else will share how the book exchange actually came out! I hope everyone enjoys their holidays, safe travels, and I look forward to seeing you in January! Jill
October’s book pick was The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb. This book pick was brought by Amy
A young woman travels to uncover a past she never knew was hers in this thrilling, modern, ghost story. A letter upends Hallie’s life. She was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire. Her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently. Why would Hallie’s father have taken her away? What happened to her family thirty years ago?
Hallie travels to where her mother lived, a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. Islanders fix her with stares and unabashed amazement as they recognize why she looks familiar and Hallie realizes her family’s secrets are enmeshed in the history of this strange place. In “The Tale Of Halcyon Crane“, Wendy Webb of Minneapolis, USA has created a haunting story of thrills, vibrant characters, and family secrets.
Book Discussion: Recap curtesy of Amy
If you are early, you are on time! (Jill & Sondra) If you are on time, you are late! (Amy) If you are late, you are really late! (Jen & Shobha) If you are really late, they might keep the kitchen open for you (Karie & guest Meghan!) If you are counting, that’s 6 people plus a guest so attendance was not too shabby, but we missed those who could not join us.
The book was The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb. The restaurant pick was Cajun Queen…for its ghostly reputation.
So first…best server ever! I think his name was John, but maybe it was Bob or Paul? It doesn’t matter. Right away, a wine bottle was at our table and he came by appropriately at the right time for appetizers, food and most importantly refills on drinks which made up nicely for the prior month. As we finally got around to discussion questions, late comers (who maybe not so coincidentally did not finish the book) rushed to the bar to avoid spoilers. That left three of us for discussion questions. Well, three plus a baby screaming in the corner. For once, we were not the loudest in the room.
Despite the fairly lame questions in the back of the book (not a single question about the mysterious house keeper/witch) overall consensus was a thumbs up. This is a quick fun read! Just enough mystery, romance and supernatural and not a major time commitment. Many of us read this in a weekend. There was some debate as to whether Hallie jumped into bed too quickly with Will. A determination was made that she lost her father, found and lost her mother, and inherited a haunted house all within a week so why not? He’s hot, single and a lawyer. And it turns out they have a childhood connection so there’s that.
We were all waiting on pins and needs for Shobha’s mysterious ghost story about Cajun Queen. Which turned out she did not see a ghost after all, but really just a weird hair standing up on the back of your neck feeling when trying to retrieve a lost item from this establishment in the middle of the day. Was it a a credit card? A purse? A shawl? The mystery still remains. Spooky. By the way, Jill is all-in on a bookclub ghost hunter’s adventure overnight. Sondra and I – nope.
Well into our third bottle of wine guess who finally shows up? Karie and Meghan!! They lost their tennis match, but are still winners in our minds. Our excellent server promptly brought their pre-texted meals (despite the kitchen shutting down) and dinner was rounded out by a delicious oreo cheesecake and so-so tollhouse cookie thing. Jen then tries to wake the now-sleeping baby by yelling at it across the room.
So for next month’s picks, this is where I fail you. It was Jill’s turn for them. She brought four selections. We picked the second one in her stapled packed and I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it! Somebody help me fill in the blanks!
As always, it was a lovely evening and we missed those that could not join us. There’s always next month
In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…
Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.
It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?
Dine & Opine met at Lucky Lou’s Tavern… we try to match something in the book to where we eat. In this case it was a dive bar. We sat down, ordered drinks and after a brief catch-up between everyone in attendance, we began to discuss the book.
I can tell you that we went through many of the questions found on LitLovers. The questions were fairly easy to answer and there was a bit of discussion. However nothing really to write home about. We all thought the book was an easy read and was a good “vacation” read. We did not think that it was a book that “wowed” us. The story was good, characters were mostly developed. That brings up one thing that the group did agree on… Dominic. His character seemed to be one that was left undeveloped. We wished that there would have been a bit more information on him. For his character to respond to Nora that way (Finding her interesting enough, etc) there has to be a back story on his character.
Overall we decided that this book receives a Sideways Thumb. It isn’t a book that we would recommend when asked for a good book you recently read; but it is a book that would be recommended to someone who enjoys an easy read, slight thriller book.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…
The Ladies of Dine & Opine met this month to discuss TKQ. We met on a lovely Tuesday evening at CO. If you remember how we choose our books and where we eat… you know that we try to match something between the book and the restaurant. If you have forgotten, or are new to this site, check out the FAQ’s of Dine & Opine. This was Amy’s Book pick- so she chose to eat at CO, inspired by the heritage of Stella’s hunk male escort. Quick restaurant write-up. And even though she was in Italy and unable to attend- she was thought of during the meeting) A few “Things to know” 1- they do not take reservations. Which was fine. A few of us ladies seem to always be early. This is a great moment to put your name in and grab a drink at the bar. 2- The food is good. I, Karie, heard no complaints regarding the food. 3- It was a bit noisy (We were surprised for a Tuesday- however A) we don’t mind as we can be loud and B) it didn’t last long, 4- The appetizers are a decent size. Not too big, enough for 5 people to have a bite and sometimes 1 person to get 2. Perfect so you don’t over eat.
OK- Now time for the book. If you have read the book- we used the questions at the back of the book. The discussion began with the conversation regarding whether or not we knew of any Highly -Functioning Autistic adults and if Stella met what we would have imagined a HFAA would react/act. Many of us (I do believe none of us) have knowingly known a HFAA. So that part of the question was hard to answer. I was able to share that personally, I have experience with autism in younger family members and a teen (Who now is an adult). I have been able to see the difference that arises out of those that have/are understood and have a self awareness earlier on than those that receive counseling later in life. In my experience those that (not only themselves, also the family) recognized Autism and worked with it are much more self aware and are able to adjust/take in daily environments.
The conversation then moved onto Stella’s reaction to an intern asking out her co-worker Philip. The overall consensus was that Stella, being brought up by her parents who (Appeared in the book) to be old school. Stella’s response was appropriate. It seems, through clues in the book, that her mother was about being proper, in a 1950’s sort of way… not the 70’s free love way. We discussed whether that might have been a point where Stella saw a social norm (What is acceptable now) and how that helped her realize that she can take charge of that area of her life.
Before diving into the SEX. Let’s discuss Micheal. The idea of his profession came into question and BOY did that start a discussion. Pretty Woman (Yes the movie) was brought to the table as an example. A discussion on Escorts VS Prostitutes was promptly visited. With a divided table we argued the pros and cons of each. One outcome, which I am sure will begin a conversation, was that Men make better clients than women. This being that tendency of women getting attached. I know, I know. It sounds so sexist, so juvenile, so…. so…. yeah… history shows that women have a harder time to separate sex and emotions. Well First off- that just sucks. We all can agree that we love a good romp in the hay. Statistically speaking, many can’t leave the hay and until those statistics change (Which they are slowly).. we are left with that.
The next Michael question was “Throughout the book, Michael worries he’s inherited his father’s “badness,” that it was passed down in his blood. Do you think this is illogical? Are you able to empathize with him? If so, how? ” Well this is was a no-brainer for this group. It is a Nature vs Nurture discussion. Almost. A twist was proposed. When you grow up with a certain behavior around you, even if you are not even in line with that behavior. It does cause a pause. A moment where one is, every once in a while, looking over one’s shoulder. Wondering if they are in the clear or if it is just part of who we are… what we are made of… who we will eventually end up being. Whether it is correct or not… it lies on your mind like a paper weight.
The SEX.. The question asked was “Does it surprise you to see an autistic person exploring a sexual relationship? If so, why?” A few said yes. I said not really. Knowing that Stella was wanting to make her mom happy and she did want to get married, she wanted to, what she thought, was “get better” at sex. She understood that sex is part of a loving relationship and quite frankly needed for reproduction. I think she wanted to learn how to be comfortable with sex. In reality, she learned that sex just isn’t physical, there is a connection that is needed. That no matter how many check lists she made and completed; without that connection and understanding, she would never think that she was “Good” at sex.
Speaking of SEX… We, I do believe unanimously, decided that we would want a Michael over a Christian Grey anytime. That brought up a conversation of a “battle of the books” sort; 50 Shades of Grey vs The Kiss Quotient. I will say that we all agreed that the sex scenes of The Kiss Quotient were better written and, well I will just say it, definitely left the reader wanting more, than 50 shades of grey. The scenes in 50SoG felt repetitive and old after awhile.
Voting: And so it was time to vote. The Kiss Quotient received a:
The main reason was that even though most enjoyed the book and it was a very easy read… It might not be a book that will get rereads. It is a book that we might pass along (To those 50 shades of grey fans) however it is not one that we believe would come up in conversation.
Next Book: The next book is from a list brought by Susan. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. Pick up your copy, start reading and check back for the next blog soon!
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The Dine and Opine ladies met at Krazy Fish. Apparently the meeting took place on Whiskey Night so the notes are a bit fuzzy. I, myself, was not in attendance so I will add my personal thoughts at the bottom of this post. Deciphering the notes shared here are some topics that where discussed:
Setting- Taking place in the Marsh of NC, how did that shape the novel? The descriptiveness of the marsh- was it helpful to those readers whom have never visited a marsh? If the area was not so remote- would she have been able to get away with her actions, and just living the way she did?
Education- The topic of how mean people where to her when she went to school. Do you think people should have been more understanding? Do you agree with her for not returning to school?
Demographics- The hierarchy that took place in the book. Where did she fall in the line? Why was she treated differently by different groups?
Time- Could you place a timeline on the book? When was this happening?
Friendships- Jumping and Mable are friendly and drawn to help her… why? Once thought was that they were all seen as outsiders.
Why did her mom leave?
How is Womanhood revealed throughout the novel?
Is Tate a good partner?
The book received a Thumbs Up all around! So Welcome to the Best Of list!!
Two words: UGLY CRY. I began reading this book and I was intrigued. I don’t think you need to have grown up in the Marsh to be able to connect with Kya. In society, as a whole, no matter where you are- there are hierarchies and I bet that even you have felt like an outsider. Reading about the struggle the siblings went through prior to escaping is not only heart-wrenching but fuses your own experiences with leaving a bad situation (Whatever that might have been) with Kya.
Reading the struggles Kya deals with regarding school, acceptance, loneliness and basic survival made me admire her strength and her stubbornness. When she choose to let people in, it was as if there was an innocence that captivated those around her. Almost a pureness. She was who she is. I think it must be refreshing to meet someone who is upfront and isn’t looking to “gain” anything. Just to be.
As I mentioned early… I started this post with 2 words, UGLY CRY. I haven’t ugly cried to a book in a long while. Oh- I have gotten misty eyed or cried a few gentle tears…. This book… I bawled. Like If I would have had on make-up- my face would have been washed away. I was reading this book while on Spring break with the family. One night everyone was going to bed. I wanted to read so I curled up in a chair with the reading lamp on and a glass of wine. I thought I would read perhaps just a chapter or two. Well, two chapters later I am crying (Trying not to wake anyone) and I poured myself another glass of wine. That night I finished the book (I was only about 1/4 to 1/3 into the book when I originally sat down). I finished. Sat the book down. Poured another glass of wine and went and sat on the balcony watching the waves (We were in Ft. Lauderdale) to just decompress afterwards.
I agree with the Thumbs up. This book is a wonderful read and I can’t wait to discuss it with others who have read this book. Did you read the book? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know!
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
Check back for Update!
My (Karie’s) Thoughts on Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine:
Where to start? There are so many points that should be covered in the discussion of this book. So let’s start with Eleanor. Well, I actually think almost every question that could be discussed probably includes Eleanor in some way. Let me just start from the beginning.
My first initial thought of Eleanor, honestly, was that she might have been on the spectrum for Autism. Having a nephew on the spectrum, I recognized a few similar traits. However, I believe I was wrong. The reason being that at the end of the book and learning everything about Eleanor- being socially non-immediately conforming is not a reason to believe that someone is on the spectrum. I actually was feeling quite mad at myself. See, for those that do not know me, I have a tendency to be a very up front, non-sugar coating, truth bomb type of person. I have always figured that if someone asks my opinion then I will give it. None of that “I love you but” bullcrap. COME ON…. the BUT cancels out the I love you part. Before I go off on some other thought tread lets continue, Just because Eleanor is up front with formalities and within the way she shares information shouldn’t have placed a label on her. I actually really love that about her character. Her straight forwardness, her attention to details and her bewilderment at the details that some choose to focus.
That brings me to my next point. The co-workers. I find it amusing that the co-workers (Raymond excluded) pretty much ignore and mock her…. until she starts adhering to the “Social Norms” i.e. wearing makeup, having newer/nicer clothes, hair done…. all the stereotypical woman magazine “Make Him Notice You” crap. I get it; I really do. We, as women, want to feel pretty. We fall into those traps. And what baffles me; is even though we will bitch and complain about it all, when someone doesn’t follow those “Rules” or “Social Norms” then some women will treat that person differently. Why? In today’s society it still baffles me that people, who aren’t the “Social norm”, must adjust their behavior to be liked or to make those around them comfortable. And this is only a 1 way road. Me, being me, I have never had someone change their conversation from some gossip to world news to make me feel included. I have been told to “be softer” or to “Say it nicer”. So why is it that it is expected for some to curve their personality and not others? If one is willing to bend- then others should as well.
On the flip side of this conversation- Because Eleanor decided to under go changes (Although it was for the “Project” i.e. a man) I wonder if she was ready for a change. After everything that happened to her and how long she has been harboring the details- I wonder if a part of her just wanted to rip out of her current shell and put on a new one- like a growing crab running out of space and finally reaches a point where it needs a new, bigger and brighter shell. I wonder if that is where the sudden onset of needing to change, to “fit the life style of what the musician would expect”, comes from. I think she might have needed a reason, to justify growing from the person who she was to who she wants to be.
Next discussion point: Mummy. This will be my last discussion point for a while. I am still making notes on a couple of things and actually I am excited for the Dine & Opine Discussion on this book. Many people are lucky enough to not have experienced anything traumatic. Unfortunately, there are those that have. How one deals with the events is different for each person. How I dealt worked for me… might not work for someone else. However, I think that a person, who has lived through something horrible, can understand why someone else might be dealing with their event in a certain way. Which is why I can kind of understand Eleanor and Mummy. Here are my thoughts:
Eleanor feels like she failed. No. Not just feel, in her eyes she did fail. She tried hard to be the perfect daughter, to make her mummy proud. Because I think she felt that if she could just make her mummy proud then all would be better. Mummy would be happy. When the fire happened and she learns that mummy set the fire on purpose- I think it broke her. Here she was trying, trying so hard to make everything right, trying to make her mummy happy and her mummy killed her sister and Eleanor was suppose to die- but survived. The guilt of not being able to save her sister, to live up to the crazy standards of mummy- standards that would never have been met, she blames herself. With the blame she keeps mummy in her head because she is scared to move forward. I think she was afraid to move on until the “Project”. I think her “project” was a way of breaking free and stepping out of her mummy’s shadow.
When Hero De Vera arrives in America–haunted by the political upheaval in the Philippines and disowned by her parents–she’s already on her third. Her uncle gives her a fresh start in the Bay Area, and he doesn’t ask about her past. His younger wife knows enough about the might and secrecy of the De Vera family to keep her head down. But their daughter–the first American-born daughter in the family–can’t resist asking Hero about her damaged hands.
An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.
Dine & Opine is starting the 2019 reading year off with a bang. We hope that you can join us in the reading of Elaine Castillo’s America is Not The Heart. Check back for the recap on the discussion.