Book club crystal ball

I don’t really have one, but I’ll put ducats on the following three books to become book group favorites in 2011.

Bloodroot, a first novel by Amy Greene, is a lyrical tale of an Appalachian family both cursed and blessed with soaring passions. Starting with grandmother, Byrdie, and neighbor boy, Douglas, readers come to know mysterious and wild Myra. Her willful, yet bewitching, ways endear her to her grandparents and Doug. Doug harbors a secret yearning for blue-eyed bloodrootmountain child Myra, but she will break his heart by marrying another man who loves her as fiercely as Doug does, but will damage her in ways Doug never could. After Byrdie and Doug’s chapter, the story moves to the voices of Myra’s twins, Johnny and Laura. After Myra is forced to abandon them, they take turns telling the history of their lives together and apart, both on the mountain that is their childhood home and off. Finally, Myra and her beloved John speak and wrap up this family saga of a love that both heals and poisons, just like the plant of the title. The author has perfectly captured the cadence and vernacular of the Appalachian mountain folk and any reader who goes into this book thinking it will be a simple tale about simple people will be surprised at the depth and complexity of the characters and their situations.

Readers who fell in love with the beloved motley residents of Guernsey in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will find more charm and substance in Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. The sleepy village of Edgecombe St. Mary is home to the Major, a majorpwidower with a business-minded social climber of a son, neighbor to fierce environmentalist Alice Pierce, and suddenly lovestruck suitor to Mrs. Ali, proprietor of the local store. The Major makes no apologies for his old-fashioned values even as he begins to understand the hectic pace of a technology and real-estate driven society. Book groups will pass a merry hour discussing the likable and realistic characters and then move onto the more serious topics of culture, tradition, and prejudice. This first novel by Helen Simonson is a smart and quiet commentary on how society treats its elders. It is cleverly disguised as a warm, witty, gentle English countryside novel.

Caroline Leavitt has been a book club favorite for years and her latest novel will be no exception. Pictures of You is scheduled for publication in November of this year and readers will be intrigued by the premise. Two women have abandoned their marriages and meet with unfortunate circumstances on a pixofyoufoggy Cape Cod highway. Only one survives the tragic car wreck and it deters her from starting a new life even as she realizes her life will never be the same. As two adults begin to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and figure out where and how to begin living again, readers will ponder along with them about the nature of love, forgiveness and self-preservation. This domestic drama is compelling and moving and readers should not be concerned that they find themselves waffling between the characters. Leavitt wants the readers to think about this unimaginable situation and how a person recovers to live a full and satisfying life.

It’s never too early to start looking for good selections for the book group that will foster lively conversation and be easy to find on library shelves.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

3 Comments on "Book club crystal ball"

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  1. ckubala@columbiactlibrary.org' CarolK says:

    I’m reading Bloodroot as we speak and have to agree that it will be a great book group pick. Our book group met last night and after voting on our next year of reading, I’d say Three Weissmann’s of Westport by Cathleen Schine and Postmistress by Sarah Blake have book club written all over them.

  2. toneslice@hotmail.com' Tony says:

    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand builds delicately. That is not to say it is a slow read. It is a delightful one.

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