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Friday, December 30, 2011

V is for Vengeance

The 22nd entry in author Sue Grafton’s “alphabet series” of mysteries, this story departs from the usual first person narration by protagonist Kinsey Millhone. Instead, Kinsey shares the space with two other characters, businessman/Mafia boss Lorenzo Dante and society wife Nora Vogelsang. After witnessing a department store shoplifting and reporting it to security, Kinsey is dismayed to later find out that the woman supposedly committed suicide. Kinsey is hired by the woman’s fiancĂ© to investigate whether she really was murdered. Alternating stories include that of Dante’s family problems with a thuggish brother and senile father combining with an FBI investigation of his affairs, all coming to a head; and of society wife Nora Vogelsang’s plotting of justice against a cheating husband. As usual, the occurrences of seemingly unrelated events evolve into the satisfactory resolution of main and minor mysteries. We meet a variety of criminals and law enforcement officials, both good and evil; and are observers of an illicit love affair. The tying up of loose ends is a delight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Afternoon Book Discussions

Join us once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, to discuss a fiction or non-fiction book selection. Coffee, tea and cookies are served. Books are available at the Circulation Desk four weeks before the discussion date. Our schedule is:

January 18th
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, written by Janelle Brown
Over the course of one summer, the three Miller women – Janice, abandoned by her wealthy husband; daughter Margaret, facing bankruptcy; and teenage daughter Lizzie – do battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, their own demons, and one another.

February 15th
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace – One School at a Time, written by Greg Mortenson
The inspiring account of one man’s campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia.

March 21st
Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, written by Erik Larson
An account of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 relates the stories of two men who shaped the history of the event – architect Daniel H. Burnham, who coordinated its construction, and serial killer Herman Mudgett.

April 18th
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, written by Muriel Barbery
The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.

May 16th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, written by Mary Ann Schaffer
As Juliet and Dawsey exchange letters, she learns about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed on the spur-of-the moment, as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans.

June 20th
Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte Bronte
The classic 1847 novel traces the doomed love affair between an orphaned, independent-minded governess and her brooding employer, Mr. Rochester.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Stolen Life: A Memoir

Here is Jaycee Dugard’s life story, in her own words, recounting the events surrounding her abduction, imprisonment and eventual return home eighteen years later. As an eleven-year-old girl snatched from her school bus stop by previously convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy, Jaycee’s horrifying experiences were just beginning. Aside from repeated sexual attacks by Phillip, resulting in Jaycee’s first pregnancy at the age of fourteen and the birth of two daughters, Jaycee also was forced to live in filthy backyard outbuildings and act compliantly towards her captors. She was instructed to tell her daughters that she was their older sister and Nancy their mother. Despite this psychological oppression, Jaycee managed to raise and educate her two daughters as normally as possible; although several times she does wonder aloud (to the reader) how her life might have been different if she hadn’t been abducted. But throughout the whole book we are in awe of Jaycee’s strength under impossible circumstances. This is a true survival story.