Willie’s Women enjoyed a lively first book discussion for 2021! Two new RHS sisters joined us and one became the 8th member of Willie’s Red Hat Women Chapter # 701501!
LEIGH ANN: Leigh Ann is taking a break from the Boob Girls series and is currently reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. The blurb reads; The Golden Compass”/”Northern Lights” tells the story of a plucky, wild, courageous, amazing 12-year old girl named Lyra Belacqua, her beloved daemon Pantalaimon, her alethiometer (and all that it helps her discover about “Dust” — and other things), her powerful, ambitious, complex, and dangerous parents (Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter), political intrigue in a world VERY much like our own in crucial ways, evil experiments on kidnapped children and their daemons, fascinating people called “gyptians” (water gypsies), theology and the Church, a window on a parallel universe (and the quest to find out what exists there), angels, witches, and an amazing bear named Iorek Byrnison. Is that enough material for you for one book? And how about put all that material into the hands of an author who is a great storyteller! The result, as I’ve said before: a CLASSIC!!
BERTHA ROSE: Bertha Rose is currently reading Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half. Blurb; The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
VICTORIA: New Chapter member Victoria enjoyed The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa by Bill Wallace. The blurb reads;
Don Franklin’s dog, Frank, is a bloodhound, so he can smell when something’s wrong. And a lot seems to be wrong in Don’s family. Mom and Dad are worried about money, especially with Christmas right around the corner and the threat of the mine closing. Don’s worried because he’s just discovered how dangerous Dad’s job in the mine is. And they’re all worried about getting Don’s little sister, Susan, what she wants for Christmas, when she won’t tell anyone but Santa Claus what it is. It looks as if Christmas might not be all that merry at the Franklins’ house. But Christmas is a time for miracles, whether seen from a boy’s perspective or a dog’s — and The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa looks at the Franklins’ Christmas miracle from both.
RENEE: Renee had several recommendations; many were daily devotionals she draws strength from;Walking in Grace by Guideposts, The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, and Wisdom for Women. She also recommended her current read, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers Blurb :Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.
Renee also mentioned A House Divided by Donna Hill Blurb; Journalist Zoie Crawford had to leave New Orleans to finally make her own life. Her grandmother, Claudia, inspired her to follow her dreams—just as her mother, Rose, held on too tight. But with Claudia’s passing, Zoie reluctantly returns home, where the past is written in the lonely corners of the bayou and the New South’s supercharged corridors of power. And there she discovers a stunning, painstakingly kept secret—one that could skyrocket her career, but destroy another woman’s—and change both their vastly different lives, for better or for much worse. Zoie has always put the truth first. Now, as the line between the personal and professional blurs, and she tries to understand her relatives’ deception, she must face some tough questions. Is there a way to expose the truth and save those you love? And at what cost? Heartfelt, emotional, and revelatory, A House Divided is an unforgettable tale about making the hardest of choices, coming to terms with all you could lose—and finding what forgiveness and family truly mean.
Lastly, Renee recommended Caste; The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. An Oprah Book Club selection, the blurb reads; In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
CHRISTINE: Christine also had multiple recommendations; Daniel Silva’s The Order Partial Blurb; While researching in the Vatican Secret Archives, I came upon a most remarkable book …The book is a long-suppressed gospel that calls into question the accuracy of the New Testament’s depiction of one of the most portentous events in human history. For that reason alone, the Order of St. Helena will stop at nothing to keep it out of Gabriel’s hands. A shadowy Catholic society with ties to the European far right, the Order is plotting to seize control of the papacy. And it is only the beginning. As the cardinals gather in Rome for the start of the conclave, Gabriel sets out on a desperate search for proof of the Order’s conspiracy, and for a long-lost gospel with the power to put an end to two thousand years of murderous hatred. His quest will take him from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, to a monastery in Assisi, to the hidden depths of the Secret Archives, and finally to the Sistine Chapel, where he will witness an event no outsider has ever before seen—the sacred passing of the Keys of St. Peter to a newly elected pope.
The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China by Johnathan Kaufman. Partial Blurb; Shanghai, 1936. The Cathay Hotel, located on the city’s famous waterfront, is one of the most glamorous in the world. Built by Victor Sassoon–billionaire playboy and scion of the Sassoon dynasty–the hotel hosts a who’s who of global celebrities: Noel Coward has written a draft of Private Lives in his suite and Charlie Chaplin has entertained his wife-to-be. And a few miles away, Mao and the nascent Communist Party have been plotting revolution.
Winter’s Curse by Mary Stone Blurb; A bank robbery turns into a blood trail as a pair of unhinged masterminds hack their way through a list of the most notorious US heists. The copycat crimes, emulating famous robberies, escalate as the FBI work with local law enforcement. But the federal team has problems of its own. Sun Ming, Winter Black’s partner and nemesis, has her own agenda, while Winter can’t keep her mind off The Preacher, the notorious serial killer who murdered her parents and holds the key to finding her missing little brother. To make matters worse, Winter must attempt to hide her ever growing abilities as the “gift” The Preacher gave her years before turns into a curse that threatens to destroy her, body and soul.
Blue Moon by Lee Child Blurb; Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business, with no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there. Then he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. But you know what they say about good deeds. Now Reacher wants to make it right. An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs. Reacher has to stay one step ahead of the loan sharks, the thugs, and the assassins. He teams up with a fed-up waitress who knows a little more than she’s letting on, and sets out to take down the powerful and make the greedy pay. It’s a long shot. The odds are against him. But Reacher believes in a certain kind of justice . . . the kind that comes along once in a blue moon.
A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles Blurb; In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
Aunt Dimity Mystery Series by Nancy Atherton
Christine ended her list with Our Daily Bread devotionals.
PENI JO: Suggested by a friend of mine in England, Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a take on the time-traveler genre. A woman finds herself in the Midnight Library after committing suicide and has the opportunity to live endless lives depending on what book she selects from the library’s shelves. I’m not usually a fan of fantasy but this book kept my interest. Blurb;
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
Next discussion is February 8. We will each offer 5 books for discussion in the future and decide which ones we’ll read and discuss in a more traditional book club style. We’re considering meeting either on Tuesday or Thursday monthly for the more traditional book club.