The Women's Book Group is the longest running of our book groups, led by Women & Children First co-founder Linda Bubon. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm.
Upcoming Meeting: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Solomon's startling proposition in "Far from the Tree" is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition--that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or multiple severe disabilities; with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, "Far from the Tree" explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other--a theme in every family's life.
Tuesday, August 19, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman has brought to life again the people and events that led up to Worl War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and an intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, THE GUNS OF AUGUST will not be forgotten.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
"Euphoria" is Lily King s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the 30 s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, "Euphoria" is "dazzling ... suspenseful ... brilliant...an exhilarating novel. "Boston Globe"
***Previous Selection*** June 16, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Just as her father makes the wrenching decision to send her away for a chance at a better life, Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—suddenly disappears. As the people of the Haitian seaside community of Ville Rose search for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed. In this stunning novel about intertwined lives, Edwidge Danticat crafts a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores the mysterious bonds we share—with the natural world and with one another.
Tuesday, May 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book "Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric." Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV--everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, "Citizen" is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30 pm***
Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.
Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremny that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.
Tuesday, February 17 at 7:30 pm
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
Tuesday, January 20th at 7:30 pm
Jane Fields has idolized her older brother, John, since they were children. She follows in his footsteps as a drummer, and when he suffers a psychotic break as a young man, she follows him into the bewildering landscape of mental illness.
Surrendering to John’s schizophrenic and elliptical logic, Jane assumes her older brother’s identity, and begins to make a life for herself as a young man named John. Every day, Jane interacts with the world as John, and then comes home to tell her brother the stories of his own life, under the naïve and perhaps mad hope that these stories will help John remember and return to the self he lost. But in the act of being John, Jane runs the risk of becoming him. Jane soon identifies more strongly with the man she’s become than the overshadowed woman she once was. When John begins to demand that Jane give up certain aspects of the life she’s built under her assumed identity, particularly a romance, Jane’s double life becomes a house of cards that threatens to collapse. Jane and John are forced to confront the limits of their ability to control each other, and the world around them, through the stories they tell—but just how deep into mental illness can Jane slide?
Tuesday, November 18, 7:30 pm
From the bestselling author of "The Vagina Monologues," a visionary memoir ofseparation and connection--to the body, the self, and the world.
Tuesday, October 21, 7:30 p.m.
Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever and the dangers remain all too real. A triumph of reporting, a riveting narrative, and "a lashing critique of how society and the police let five young women down" (Dwight Garner, New York Times), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.
Tuesday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland.
Tuesday, August 19, 7:30 pm
At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not appear on any map. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the U.S., were recruited to this secret city, enticed by the promise of solid wages and war-ending work. What were they actually "doing" there? Very few knew. The purpose of this mysterious government project was kept a secret from the outside world and from the majority of the residents themselves. Some wondered why, despite the constant work and round-the-clock activity in this makeshift town, did no tangible product of any kind ever seem to leave its guarded gates? The women who kept this town running would find out at the end of the war, when Oak Ridge's secret was revealed and changed the world forever.
Tuesday, July 15, 7:30 pm
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock and the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.
Tuesday, June 17, 7:30pm
Note: We're thrilled to announce that author Eric Charles May will be joining us to discuss his book!
After fourteen years in prison, Gerald "Stew Pot" Reeves, age thirty-one, returns home to live with his mom in Parkland, a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. A frightening delinquent before being sent away, his return sends Parkland residents into a religiously infused tailspin, which only increases when Stew Pot announces that he experienced a religious awakening in prison.
Tuesday, May 20, 7:30 pm
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.
Tuesday, April 15, 7:30 pm
Extraordinarily funny, with the fresh eye of a visitor from another world, Stevie Smith is a poet to savor. Wielding a throwaway wit and the strangest irony, Stevie Smith was deeply read in the classics and yet sprinkled her poetry with delightful doodles. Her poems are often very dark; her characters are perpetually saying goodbye to their friends or welcoming death. At the same time her work has an eerie levity.
Tuesday, March 18, 7:30 pm
In the early 1960s, most middle-class American women in their twenties had their lives laid out for them: marriage, children, and life in the suburbs. Most, but not all.
"Breathless" is the story of a girl who represents those who rebelled against conventional expectations. Paris was a magnet for those eager to resist domesticity, and like many young women of the decade, Nancy K. Miller was enamored of everything French--from perfume and Hermes scarves to the writing of Simone de Beauvoir and the New Wave films of Jeanne Moreau. After graduating from Barnard College in 1961, Miller set out for a year in Paris, with a plan to take classes at the Sorbonne and live out a great romantic life inspired by the movies.
After a string of sexual misadventures, she gave up her short-lived freedom and married an American expatriate who promised her a lifetime of three-star meals and five-star hotels. But her husband wasn't who he said he was, and she eventually had to leave Paris and her dreams behind. This stunning memoir chronicles a young woman's coming-of-age tale, and offers a glimpse into the intimate lives of girls before feminism.
Tuesday, February 18, 7:30 pm
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd, swept up by the tides of the Great Migration, flees Georgia and heads north. Full of hope, she settles in Philadelphia to build a better life. Instead she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment, and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins are lost to an illness that a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children, whom she raises with grit, mettle, and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them to meet a world that will not be kind. Their lives, captured here in twelve luminous threads, tell the story of a mother's monumental courage--and a nation's tumultuous journey.
Tuesday, January 21, 7:30 pm
This collection of stories illuminates moments that shape a life, from a dream or a sexual act to simple twists of fate that turn a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Set in the countryside and towns of Lake Huron, these stories about departures and beginnings, accidents, dangers, and homecomings both virtual and real, paint a portrait of how strange, dangerous, and extraordinary the ordinary life can be.
Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 pm (new date)
One of the most revered novelists of our time--a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life--Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with a story that transports readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota.
Tuesday, October 15, 7:30 pm (new date)
Somewhere in Northwest London stands Caldwell housing estate, a relic of 70s urban planning. Thirty years later four ex-Caldwell kids have all made it out, with varying degrees of success--whatever that means. Living only streets apart, they occupy separate worlds.
Tuesday, September 17, 7:30 pm
In a riveting story by the author of The Poisonwood Bible, a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee experiences something she cannot explain. Her discovery energizes various competing factions, trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.
Tuesday, August 20, 7:30 pm
In the wake of World War II, Nick and her cousin Helena's world seems rife with possibility, marriage, and reunited love. When gilt soon begins to crack, the women and their children, Daisy and Ed, must try to recapture that earlier sense of possibility. But the dark thread of the family's history slowly starts to unravel, surfacing secrets and lies.
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 pm
"I write 'hungry' sentences," Natalie Diaz once explained in an interview, "because they want more and more lyricism and imagery to satisfy them." This debut collection is a fast-paced tour of Mojave life and family narrative: A sister fights for or against a brother on meth, and everyone from Antigone, Houdini, Huitzilopochtli, and Jesus is invoked and invited to hash it out. These darkly humorous poems illuminate far corners of the heart, revealing teeth, tails, and more than a few dreams. Natalie Diaz was born and raised on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation in Needles, California. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. She lives in Surprise, Arizona, and is working to preserve the Mojave language.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:30 pm
The ten stories in this debut collection examine the perils of love and what it means to live during an era when people will offer themselves, almost unthinkingly, to strangers. Risks and repercussions are never fully weighed. People leap and almost always land on rocky ground. May-December romances flourish in these stories, as do self-doubt and, in most cases, serious regret. Mysterious, dangerous benefactors, dead and living artists, movie stars and college professors, plagiarists, and distinguished foreign novelists are among the many different characters. No one is blameless, but villains are difficult to single out-everyone seemingly bears responsibility for his or her desires and for the outcome of difficult choices so often made hopefully and naively.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 7:30 pm
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting. As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, "Salvage the Bones" is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 7:30 pm
A vibrant new novel from Penelope Lively--a wry, wise story about the surprising ways lives intersect When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends. Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. Brought to life in her hallmark graceful prose and full of keen insights into human nature, How It All Began is an engaging, contemporary tale that is sure to strike a chord with her legion of loyal fans as well as new readers. A writer of rare wisdom, elegance, and humor, Lively is a consummate storyteller whose gifts are on full display in this masterful work.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 7:30 pm
In Amina Gautier's Brooklyn, some kids make it and some kids don't, but not in simple ways or for stereotypical reasons. Gautier's stories explore the lives of young African Americans who might all be classified as "at-risk," yet who encounter different opportunities and dangers in their particular neighborhoods and schools and who see life through the lens of different family experiences. Gautier's focus is on quiet daily moments, even in extraordinary lives; her characters do not stand as emblems of a subculture but live and breathe as people.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 7:30 pm
Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb's Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 7:30 pm
Jeanette Winterson's novels have established her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally bestselling first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life's work to find happiness. It's a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the Universe as Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past that Jeanette thought she'd written over and repainted rose to haunt her, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 7:30 pm
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 7:30 pm
In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity. As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, "State of Wonder" is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest's jeweled canopy.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 7:30 pm
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 7:30 pm
When 16-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail- order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband, a handsome townhouse, and freedom from physical labor and pogroms. But her husband Max turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons. The country is desolate, the work treacherous. Most troubling, Minna finds herself increasingly attracted to her older stepson. As a brutal winter closes in, the family's limits are tested, and Minna, drawing on strengths she barely knows she has, is forced to confront her despair, as well as her desire.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:30 pm
This fourth collection from Finney (On Wings Made of Gauze) should prove hard to forget. Against other black poets' interest in congregations, Finney is drawn to defiant individualists, to black women who let no one tell them what to do. Several long sequences animate, or answer, public figures, from Rosa Parks to Strom Thurmond to President George W. Bush and Bush adviser Condoleezza Rice, who imagines herself (in Finney's telling) "fifteen again, all smiles, and relocated/ to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, // where she and the Steinway/ are the only Black people in the room." Finney's politics are unmistakable, and her sympathy for the dispossessed shown with anger and verve in poems about Hurricane Katrina pervades the volume's thickly painted scenes.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:30 pm
Her palace shimmered with onyx and gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first and poisoned the second; incest and assassination were family specialties. She had children by Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. With Antony she would attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled both their ends. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Her supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 7:30 pm
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons--as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:30 pm
From the award-winning author of "Purple Hibiscus" comes this masterly, haunting new novel, in which Adichie recreates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria during the 1960s.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:30 pm
For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet's daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father's study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944. Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 7:30 pm
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, "Room" is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 7:30 pm
In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man, Thomas Cromwell, dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power. In inimitable style, Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 7:30 pm
Women today are inundated with conflicting messages from the mass media: they must either be strong leaders in complete command or sex kittens obsessed with finding and pleasing a man. In "The Rise Of Enlightened Sexism," Susan J. Douglas, one of America's most entertaining and insightful cultural critics, takes readers on a spirited journey through the television programs, popular songs, movies, and news coverage of recent years, telling a story that is nothing less than the cultural biography of a new generation of American women.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 7:30 pm
Burton's novel reimagines the Donner party tragedy through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, wife of George Donner, the leader of the group that, in 1846, set out for California and wound up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 7:30 pm
Smith's evocative, honest, and moving coming-of-age story reveals her extraordinary relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Part romance, part elegy, "Just Kids" is about friendship in the truest sense, and the artist's calling.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:30 pm
In her first novel in nine years, "New York Times"-bestselling author Kingsolver tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the 20th century's most tumultuous events.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm
In her fourth remarkable collection, Elizabeth Alexander voices the outcries, dreams, and histories of an African American tradition that goes back to the slave rebellion on the Amistad and to the artists' canvases of nineteenth-century America. In persona poems, historical narratives, jazz riffs, sonnets, elegies, and a sequence of ars poetica, American Sublime is Alexander's most vivid and varied collection and affirms her place as one of America's most lively and gifted writers
Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 7:30 pm
NOMINATED FOR THE "LOS ANGELES TIMES "BOOK PRIZE A profoundly moving portrait of the complicated legacies of mothers and daughters, "A Short History of Women "chronicles five generations of women from the close of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twenty-first. Beginning in 1914 at the deathbed of Dorothy Trevor Townsend, a suffragette who starves herself for the cause, the novel traces the echoes of her choice in the stories of her descendants--a brilliant daughter who tries to escape the burden of her mother's infamy; a granddaughter who chooses a conventional path, only to find herself disillusioned; a great-granddaughter who wryly articulates the free-floating anxiety of post-9/11 Manhattan. In a kaleidoscope of characters and with a richness of imagery, emotion, and wit, "A Short History of Women "is a thought-provoking and vividly original narrative that crisscrosses a century--a book for "any woman who has ever struggled to find her own voice; to make sense of being a mother, wife, daughter, and lover" (Associated Press)
Tuesday, Feburary 15, 2011, 7:30 pm
The wildly popular "New York Times" bestseller and reading group favorite.
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...
Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 7:30 pm
She was a wealthy debutante groomed for a gilded life in moneyed Houston, but Molly Ivins reinvented herself as one of the most provocative, courageous, and influential journalists in American history. Based on intimate knowledge of Molly, interviews with her family, friends, and colleagues, and access to a treasure trove of her personal papers, "Molly Ivins" it is at once the saga of a powerful, pugnacious woman muscling her way to the top in a world dominated by men; a fascinating look behind the scenes of national media and politics; and a sobering account of the toll of addiction and cancer. "Molly Ivins" adds layers of depth and complexity to the story of an American legend--a woman who inspired people both to laughter and action.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 7:30 pm
Lighthousekeeping tells the tale of Silver ("My mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal, part pirate."), an orphaned girl who is taken in by blind Mr. Pew, the mysterious and miraculously old keeper of a lighthouse on the Scottish coast. Pew tells Silver stories of Babel Dark, a nineteenth-century clergyman. Dark lived two lives: a public one mired in darkness and deceit and a private one bathed in the light of passionate love. For Silver, Dark's life becomes a map through her own darkness, into her own story, and, finally, into love.
One of the most original and extraordinary writers of her generation, Jeanette Winterson has created a modern fable about the transformative power of storytelling.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 7:30 pm
When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation years ago. But the past and present are inextricably entwined, particularly in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise has inherited from her mother. And soon Framboise will realize that the journal also contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year. . . .
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 7:30 pm
From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era's most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.
With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.
They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 7:30 pm
Set in the visionary future of Atwood's acclaimed "Oryx and Crake," "The Year of the Flood" is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction. In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 7:30 pm
A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush, natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his black British home.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 7:30 pm
A rich, wonderfully alive novel about seventeen year old Lark and her brother, Termite, living in West Virginia in the 1950s. Their mother, Lola, is absent, while their aunt, Nonie, raises them as her own, and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, is caught up in the early days of the Korean War. Award-winning author Jayne Anne Phillips intertwines family secrets, dreams, and ghosts in a story about the love that unites us all.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 7:30 pm
Staceyann Chin, acclaimed and iconic performance artist, now brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a brave, lyrical, and fiercely candid memoir about growing up in Jamaica. She plumbs tender and unsettling memories as she writes about drifting from one home to the next, coming out as a lesbian, and finding the man she believes to be her father and ultimately her voice. Hers is an unforgettable story told with grace, humor, and courage.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 7:30 pm
Set in eighteenth-century Brooklyn, this is the beautifully written story of a woman with a vision: a gargantuan construction of timber and masonry to span the East River. With the help of her sisters--high-spirited Tem and silent, uncanny Pearl--Prue fires the imaginations of the people of Brooklyn and New York by promising them easy passage between their two worlds.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 7:30 pm
"Ka-Ching!" is a book of poems that explores America's obsession with money. It also includes a crown of sonnets about e-bay, sestinas on the subjects of Sean Penn and the main characters of fairytales, a pantoum that riffs on a childhood riddle, and a villanelle inspired by bathroom grafitti.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, February 16, 2010, 7:30 pm
This prize-winning novel is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made real (Barbara Kingsolver), as men and women from two families become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010, 7:30 pm
The bestselling author of "No Logo" argues that by capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for 50 years.
Tuesday, September 18, 7:30pm
As powerful now as when first published in 1983, Lynne Sharon Schwartz's third novel established her as one of her generation's most assured writers. In this long-awaited reissue; readers can again warm to this acutely absorbing story. According to Lydia Rowe's friend George, a philosophizing psychotherapist, a "disturbance in the field" is anything that keeps us from realizing our needs. In the field of daily experiences, anything can stand in the way of our fulfillment, he explains--an interrupting phone call, an unanswered cry. But over time we adjust and new needs arise. But what if there's disturbance you can't get past? In this look at a girl's, then a wife and mother's, coming of age, Schwartz explores the questions faced by all whose visions of a harmonious existence are jolted into disarray. The result is a novel of captivating realism and lasting grace.
Tuesday, August 21, 7:30pm
Award-winning comics artist Alison Bechdel has been known for decades as " one of the best, one to watch out for, " in the words of Harvey Pekar. Her latest work- the groundbreaking, genre-busting, best-selling graphic narrative Fun Home- has established her as one of America' s most gifted and extraordinary memoirists as well. With its stunning mix of graphic and literary forms, it has garnered exceptional acclaim, receiving exuberant reviews, winning placement on bestseller lists across the country, and claiming seven foreign publishing deals to date. In the wake of this tremendous critical success, Fun Home has also won new readers for Bechdel- on tour for the book she has been greeted by standing-room-only crowds- and the paperback publication will no doubt continue to expand her audience. In Bechdel' s affecting account of her relationship with her late father, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power. Bechdel grew up in a small Pennsylvania town, in a Victorian house that her father was painstakingly restoring to its period glory. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the " Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Tuesday, December 18, 7:30pm
In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of "The Caged Virgin," Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West. One of today's most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist's murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie "Submission." "Infidel" is the eagerly awaited story of the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished -- and sometimes reviled -- political superstar and champion of free speech.
Tuesday, October 16, 7:30pm
On a wild, windy April day in Manhattan, when Mary first meets John Keane, she cannot know what lies ahead of her. A marriage, a fleeting season of romance, and the birth of four children will bring John and Mary to rest in the safe embrace of a traditional Catholic life in the suburbs. But neither Mary nor John, distracted by memories and longings, can feel the wind that is buffeting their children, leading them in directions beyond their parents' control. Michael and his sister Annie are caught up in the sexual revolution. Jacob, brooding and frail, is drafted to Vietnam. And the youngest, Clare, commits a stunning transgression after a childhood spent pleasing her parents. As John and Mary struggle to hold on to their family and their faith, Alice McDermott weaves an elegant, unforgettable portrait of a world in flux
Tuesday, March 20, 7:30
Vindication is the first biography to show this remarkable woman at full strength and bring out the range as well as the reverberations of her genius in the following and subsequent generations. Here is the drama of Wollstonecraft's life as a governess in an aristocratic family in Ireland, as an independent writer in London, as an on-the-scene observer of the French Revolution, and as a daring traveler to Scandinavia on the trail of an unsolved crime. Although she died young, her spirit and unconventional ideas lived on in the lives of her daughter, Mary Shelley, and three other heirs who had to contend with a counter-revolutionary age. Vindication offers new evidence for the influence of early American political thought in England and demonstrates for the first time the profound effect of Mary Wollstonecraft's own writing, especially her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, on American figures of the day, among them John andAbigail Adams.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 7:30pm
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she's painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
Tuesday, July 17, 7:30pm
"Delightful and discerning . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the ' first lady' role, comes vividly to life." - "The New York Times" When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble the nation' s capital. Into that unsteady atmosphere- which would soon enough erupt into another conflict with Britain- Dolley Madison arrived, alongside her husband, James. Within a few years, she had mastered both the social and political intricacies of the city, and by her death in 1849 was the most celebrated person in Washington. And yet, to most Americans, she' s best known for saving a portrait from the burning White House. Why did her contemporaries so admire a lady so little known today? In "A Perfect Union," acclaimed historian Catherine Allgor reveals how Dolley manipulated the contstraints of her gender to construct an American democratic ruling style and to achieve her husband' s political goals. By emphasizing cooperation over coercion- building bridges instead of bunkers- she left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics.
Tuesday, May 15, 7:30pm
There are few historical heroines as fascinating and controversial as Pope Joan, a woman whose hunger for knowledge and independent nature led her to pass as a man and ultimately to attain the high seat in Rome. Pope Joan is a spellbinding tale of a woman who gave up everything, even her very name, for the sake of knowledge.
Tuesday, November 21, 7:30pm
In this classic novel Powell again turns her sharp eye and stinging wit on the literary world and "identifies every sort of publishing type with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection". With her "crisp, terse prose and concisely sketched characters...this is one of Powell's finest novels and better than anything currently on the bestsellers lists" (Library Journal).
Tuesday, January 16, 7:30pm
"Paradise of the Blind" is an exquisite portrait of three Vietnamese women struggling to survive in a society where subservience to men is expected and Communist corruption crushes every dream. Through the eyes of Hang, a young woman in her twenties who has grown up amidst the slums and intermittent beauty of Hanoi, we come to know the tragedy of her family as land reform rips apart their village. When her uncle Chinh's political loyalties replace family devotion, Hang is torn between her mother's appalling self-sacrifice and the bitterness of her aunt who can avenge but not forgive. Only by freeing herself from the past will Hang be able to find dignity -- and a future.
Tuesday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Panoramic in scope, "Away" is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent and an accidental heroine.
Tuesday, April 17, 7:30pm
Anne Carson has been acclaimed by her peers as the most imaginative poet writing today. In a recent profile, The New York Times Magazine paid tribute to her amazing ability to combine the classical and the modern, the mundane and the surreal, in a body of work that is sure to endure. In Men in the Off Hours, Carson offers further proof of her tantalizing gifts. Reinventing figures as diverse as Oedipus, Emily Dickinson, and Audubon, Carson sets up startling juxtapositions: Lazarus among video paraphernalia, Virginia Woolf and Thucydides discussing war, Edward Hopper paintings illuminated by St. Augustine. And in a final prose poem, she meditates movingly on the recent death of her mother. With its quiet, acute spirituality and its fearless wit and sensuality, Men in the Off Hours shows us a fiercely individual poet at her best.
Tuesday, February 19, 7:30 pm
Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. "Suite Francaise" tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy--in their town, their homes, even in their hearts. When Irene Nemirovsky began working on "Suite Francaise," she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown.
Tuesday, February 20, 7:30, 7:30 pm
From the massively talented Gish Jen comes a barbed, moving, and stylistically dazzling new novel about the elusive nature of kinship. The Wongs describe themselves as a "half half" family, but the actual fractions are more complicated, given Carnegie's Chinese heritage, his wife Blondie's WASP background, and the various ethnic permutations of their adopted and biological children. Into this new American family comes a volatile new member. Her name is Lanlan. She is Carnegie's Mainland Chinese relative, a tough, surprisingly lovely survivor of the Cultural Revolution, who comes courtesy of Carnegie's mother's will. Is Lanlan a very good nanny, a heartless climber, or a posthumous gift from a formidable mother who never stopped wanting her son to marry a nice Chinese girl? Rich in insight, buoyed by humor, The Love Wife is a hugely satisfying work.
Tuesday, November 20, 7:30pm, 7:30 pm
Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of "The Book of Ruth" and "A Map of the World," is back in top form with a richly textured novel about a tragic accident and its effects on two generations of a family. When Aaron Maciver's beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers brain damage in a bike accident, she is left with the intellectual powers of a six-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own. Narrated by Aaron's son, Mac, "When Madeline Was Young" chronicles the Maciver family through the decades, from Mac's childhood growing up with Madeline and his cousin Buddy in Wisconsin through the Vietnam War, through Mac's years as a husband with children of his own, and through Buddy's involvement with the subsequent Gulf Wars. Jane Hamilton, with her usual humor and keen observations of human relationships, deftly explores the Maciver's unusual situation and examines notions of childhood (through Mac and Buddy's actual youth as well as Madeline's infantilization) and a rivalry between Buddy's and Mac's families that spans decades and various wars. She captures the pleasures and frustrations of marriage and family, and she exposes the role that past relationships, rivalries, and regrets inevitably play in the lives of adults. Inspired in part by Elizabeth Spencer's "Light in the Piazza," Hamilton offers an honest and exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes and alters the boundaries of love.
Tuesday, January 15, 7:30 pm
Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, this new novel is the first in seven years by the bestselling author of "The Sparrow" and "Children of God," It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive. Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war's final phase. The result of five years of meticulous research, "A Thread of Grace" is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters that will please Russell's many fans and earn her even more.
Tuesday, December 19, 7:30 pm
In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, "Tropical Fish" depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin's dictatorship. Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christine's two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to "magically" seduce one of her teachers. But the star of "Tropical Fish "is Christine, whom we accompany from her first wobbly steps in high heels, to her encounters with the first-world conveniences and alienation of America, to her return home to Uganda. As the Mugishas cope with Uganda's collapsing infrastructure, they also contend with the universal themes of family cohesion, sex and relationships, disease, betrayal, and spirituality. Anyone dipping into Baingana's incandescent, widely acclaimed novel will enjoy their immersion in the world of this talented newcomer. *Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in the Africa region *Winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Award Series in Short Fiction *Winner of the Washington Writing Prize for Short Fiction *Finalist for the Caine Prize in African Writing