St. John's Laurys Book Club

Reading books for enjoyment, perspective and discussion

Meets the First Thursday of each month at 6:30pm
     Please use the West Entry Doors and follow the trail of books to the meeting room

Contact Brenda Frantz or Karen-Berry Frantz for more information.

August 3 Meeting
Still Summer
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Secure your life preserver. Tie yourself to the mast. It's late August, but it's still summer, and Jacquelyn Mitchard is taking you on a thrill ride you won't forget.

Mitchard made her mark in the literary world in 1996 when TheDeep End of the Ocean was chosen as the first pick for Oprah Winfrey's now-legendary book club. Since then, she has written six other novels, but none matches the suspenseful pitch of Still Summer.

It's a tale of terror on the high seas, but this is no Pirates of the Caribbean wannabe.

Readers know something terrible is going to happen, but Mitchard ratchets up the suspense by allowing her story to unfold at a leisurely pace. She painstakingly fleshes out her characters, because as readers will discover, their temperaments and personalities are as crucial to the story as the mounting disasters.

Tracy Kyle, Holly Solvig and Olivia Montefalco, lifelong friends in their early 40s, charter a yacht and two-man crew for a sailing vacation that will take them from St. Thomas to Grenada.

The trip starts out as an innocent adventure in paradise until two accidents in quick succession strand the women without their crew. What else can go wrong? In a word, everything. The engine conks out, the sails are torn, lack of electricity spoils their food and limits their drinking water - and then there's the injury to Holly's leg.

Nature's fury, murderous drug dealers and, possibly most deadly of all, their own frailties and secrets are added to the list.

Readers will wring their hands with frustration, weep with sadness and second-guess the choices these women make. But since characters must do the bidding of the authors who create them, we can only sit back - or sit on the edge of our seats - and let Mitchard's terror-filled tale wash over us.

From Booklist Family tragedies are Mitchard's stock-in-trade, and here she adds a suspenseful twist. Friends since childhood, Tracy, Holly, and Olivia charter a private yacht for some girl-time R & R, bringing along Tracy's 19-year-old daughter, Cammie. Manning the vessel are two Virgin Island residents: Lenny, the captain, and Michel, his mate. Just as some mounting mother-daughter tension between Tracy and Cammie begins to dissipate amid the tropical setting, Cammie and Michel commence a flirtation that seems at first innocent but progresses too quickly for Tracy. The youngsters' courtship becomes secondary, however, as bad weather separates the women and the boat from the crew, and Tracy takes the lead by default. Diminishing food supply, piqued anxiety, and increasing desperation conspire to undo the group, revealing one of them to be vindictive and conniving--and possibly vicious when survival is at stake. Though not nearly on par with Mitchard's Oprah title, The Deep End of the Ocean (1996), fans will enjoy this mix of seafaring adventure and romantic suspense.

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Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years – second only to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (but second by a long shot, it must be said.)

The Deep End of the Ocean was chosen as the first novel in the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey, and transformed into a feature film produced by and starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

All of Mitchard’s novels have been greater or lesser bestsellers – and include The Most Wanted, A Theory of Relativity, Twelve Times Blessed, The Breakdown Lane and Cage of Stars. Critics have praised them for their authentic humanity and skilful command of story. Readers identify because they see reflected, in her characters – however extreme their circumstances – emotions they already understand.

Mitchard’s first story of adventure and her eighth novel of realistic contemporary fiction is Still Summer (August, 2007). In the same month, the paperback version of her most critically acclaimed novel, Cage of Stars (August 2007), appears from Warner Books.

Mitchard also has embarked on four novels for young adults.

The first, Now You See Her, from HarperTeen, is the story of a pampered, driven young actress who fakes her own abduction.

Next spring, also from HarperTeen, All We Know of Heaven will tell the story of lifetime best friends Bridget and Maureen, who are just sixteen when a fatal crash on an icy road and a poignant case of mistaken identity divide their small Minnesota town forever.

Now You See Her also is the first novel made “visible,” in a short series of beginning episodes on the Internet site YouTube, where actress Lauren Collins Peterson appears in several vlogs (or video blogs) as the fictional Hope Shay.

In summer, 2008, The Midnight Twins, first in a trilogy of teen mysteries about identical twin sisters born on New Year’s Eve – one a minute before and a minute after midnight – appears. Meredith and Mallory Brynn learn on the night they turn thirteen that their psychic abilities will force them to intervene in dire events, although one twin can see only the future and one can see only the past.

Meanwhile, Mitchard is completing her next adult novel and continues as a contributing editor for the Disney parenting magazine Wondertime, as well writing pieces for More, Parade and Real Simple, among other magazines. Her syndicated column for Tribune Media appears in newspapers around the nation.

At the local coffee shop, Mitchard is best-known as the mother of Rob, Dan, Marty, Francie, Mia, Will and Atticus – and she can repeat those names in sequence in the space of two seconds – the wife of handsome Chris Brent and the best pal of the extremely photogenic mutt, Hobbes.

They divide their time between a big Italianate house built by Mitchard’s husband on Story Hill in south central Wisconsin and a villa on the Amalfi Coast (well, one can dream!)

Her favorite color is periwinkle blue; her favorite holiday is Halloween; her favorite flower is freesia; her favorite word is "smite," and her second favorite is "Massachusetts"; her lucky number is 119 (anyone who can guess where that comes from wins a pair of startlingly cool earrings or a University of Wisconsin ball cap). Her favorite place on earth is Cape Cod – where, very unlike the writer Isak Dinesen in Nairobi – she owned a home for ten years, and does believe the shadows in the driveway remember her shape.

Her pet peeves are PhDs who cannot and will not learn the difference between “lie” and “lay” and family signs pluralized with apostrophes.

She still hopes that Dick Wolf can find it in his heart to let her appear on just ONE episode of any incarnation of ‘Law and Order,’ as has everyone else in America. She still is willing to play the role of a murder victim – except one found by earth-moving equipment in a landfill

September 7 Meeting
The Silent Wife
by Kerry Fisher

Would you risk everything for the man you loved? Even if you knew he'd done something terrible?

Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. The one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

A heart-wrenching, emotionally gripping read for fans of Amanda Prowse, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

This book was previously titled The Secrets of Second Wives

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I write funny, honest books about ordinary women and family life. When I’m not doing that, I can be seen haring across the Surrey hills trying to stop my lab/schnauzer eating other people’s picnics or running off with their kites. Or helping my teenage son think back to when he might last have seen his rugby shorts. Or explaining to my daughter that I can help with English, Latin and Spanish but art, technology or, ugh, sewing, she’s on her own. Or telling my very tolerant husband that the dog needs organic chicken because she’s got a sensitive stomach but could he make do with an omelette?
But I wasn’t always a writer. Once I left my hometown of Peterborough to go to university in Bath, I got the travel bug and have never recovered. I was an English teacher in Spain and Corsica, a holiday rep in Tuscany, a PA in an art school in Florence, a guidebook researcher and author, travel journalist. Horizons, broad, exciting, unknown and promising were what inspired me. Nothing thrilled or terrified me quite as much as landing in a foreign country with a whole new territory to discover.
And then the children arrived…and with them disappeared the days of elephant riding in Thailand, testing new theme park rides in America and abseiling down the highest tower in Rotterdam. So I had to find new ways of exploring far-flung lands. After working as a book reviewer for Candis magazine, I realised fiction was the way to keep that sense of anticipation and excitement alive.
When the children were young, the challenge was finding the time to write. Now both are at senior school, the challenge is to write down the funny (and sometimes hideous) things they say before I forget in case I need to use them in a novel – in our house, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Even the dog has to make friends on the hill so that I can talk to their owners about books. So if you see otherwise sane-looking women leaping into hedges and hiding behind oak trees on the Surrey Downs, they’ve probably spotted me heading their way with my latest book recommendation…
Other than reading and writing, I love cooking, entertaining, wine and friends…I’m more like Clover than Jen1 – not very groomed and a bit messy, though I don’t have wellies in my kitchen sink. Or a trust fund…

 

Ten Things Kerry Fisher Wants You to Know About Her…
Yes, this was actually the title of a feature I had to write for Female First. It probably loosely translated for readers as ‘Stuff I could have easily lived without knowing’ or ‘Why would I want to know anything about Kerry Fisher?’ But just in case you’re done with Twitter and there’s nothing on telly…knock yourself out on the most trivial of trivia…

  1. I’m eternally dissatisfied. When I started writing, I just wanted to get published. I imagined that I would flop down in an armchair and think, ‘Phew. I’ve done it!’ Unfortunately, every time I reach a goal, I have about two minutes when I think ‘Brilliant!’ then immediately raise the bar. I was absolutely thrilled to make the Kindle top 10 – way beyond anything I’d hoped for. But now I find myself thinking, ‘Hmm, I’d actually quite like to be number one.’ But I think Grey will have that slot for some time to come…
  2. I’m quite prudish. I find the idea that people I know are reading my sex scenes absolutely excruciating. I wanted to staple ‘those’ pages together when my Mum was reading The Island Escape.
  3. I’ve totally ignored the advice I give my children. I’ve met some people I’ve got to know on Twitter in real life and they’ve become great friends. A bonus by-product of becoming an author has been finding a new tribe to share my fascination for the minutiae of the book world. So nice to hang out with people who don’t suddenly find an urgent need to go to the loo when I say, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a novel.’
  4. I own a naughty Lab/Giant Schnauzer called Poppy. I spend half my life running around the hill near our house, waving chicken and squeaking balls, while she hoovers up picnics and runs amok with kites. We’ve just built a boot room in an effort to contain the vast quantity of mud she shakes all over the kitchen in the winter. The builders think it’s ridiculous that it’s the only room in the house with underfloor heating.
  5. I made a bet with my teenage daughter that I’d dye my hair pink if The Island Escape made the Kindle top 100. I never thought I’d get there so I was enjoying the kudos without thinking I’d ever have to deliver. I rather like it though.
  6. I love the way teenagers feel everything so deeply and sharply. Watching my 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter grow up is like seeing life lived with all the jaded layers of experience removed. I’m also fascinated by how embarrassing they find me, especially if I sing to the radio or wear a bikini.
  7. The first thing I map out when I’m planning my characters is what they really want from life. It’s an interesting and potentially dangerous question to ask yourself if you are prepared to dig beyond ‘I want my family to be happy and healthy’.
  8. I love travelling. I was a very restless teenager with a fascination for foreign languages. I did a degree in French and Italian, then lived in Corsica for a year, Spain for two and Tuscany for five. When I came back to the UK, aged 29, I’d missed so much popular culture – TV, music, films – that I felt like an alien. Now I love disappearing off on my own to explore, but nothing beats coming through the arrivals gate at the airport, knowing I’ve got a family to come back to.
  9. I hate shopping and don’t give a hoot what people wear. I never notice unless it’s outrageously awful or absolutely wonderful. When I got married, I bought a grey trouser suit a few weeks before and thought, ‘Well, that will do if I don’t have time to look for anything else.' My stepmother took me in hand and I ended up with a bright red dress.
  10. One of the best days of my life was seeing my debut novel, The School Gate Survival Guide, come off the presses with my old dad. At the printers, they pressed a button and the whole factory turned into a sea of red covers. He was so proud and I was so touched.

 

October 5 Meeting
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck

 First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes the very nature of equality and justice in America.

Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that "The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book—which takes its title from the first verse: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” As Don DeLillo has claimed, Steinbeck shaped a geography of conscience” with this novel where there is something at stake in every sentence.” Beyond that—for emotional urgency, evocative power, sustained impact, prophetic reach, and continued controversy—The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics.

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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat. (

 

 

 
November 2 Meeting
Magic Hour
by Kristen Hannah

 Dr. Julia Cates was one of the country's preeminent child psychiatrists until a shocking tragedy ruined her career. Retreating to her small western Washington hometown, Julia meets an extraordinary six-year-old girl who has inexplicably emerged from the deep woods nearby--a child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation. To Julia, nothing is more important than saving the girl she now calls Alice. But Julia will need help from others, including the sister she barely knows and a handsome doctor with secrets of his own. What follows will test the limits of Julia's faith and strength, as she struggles to find a home for Alice . . . and for herself.

Deep in the Pacific Northwest lies the Olympic National Forest—nearly one million acres of impenetrable darkness and impossible beauty. Even in this modern age, much of it remains undiscovered and uncharted. From the heart of this old forest, a six-year-old girl appears. Speechless and alone, she can give no clue as to her identity, no hint of her past…

Until recently, Dr. Julia Cates was one of the preeminent child psychiatrists in the country, but a scandal shattered her confidence, ruined her career, and made her a media target. When she gets a desperate call from her estranged sister, Ellie, a police chief in their small western Washington hometown, she jumps at the chance to escape.

In Rain Valley, nothing much ever happens—until a girl emerges from the deep woods and walks into town. She is a victim unlike any Julia has ever seen: a child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation.

When word spreads of the “wild child” and the infamous doctor who is treating her, the media descend on Julia and once again her competence is challenged. State and federal authorities want to lock the girl away in an institution until an identification can be made.

But to Julia, who has come to doubt her own ability, nothing is more important than saving the girl she now calls Alice. To heal this child, Julia will have to understand that she cannot work alone and must look to others—the people in the town she left long ago, the sister she barely knows, and Dr. Max Cerrasin, a handsome, private man with secrets of his own.

Then a shocking revelation forces Julia to risk everything to discover the truth about Alice. The ordeal that follows will test the limits of Julia’s faith, forgiveness, and love, as she struggles to ascertain where Alice ultimately belongs.

In her most ambitious novel to date, Kristin Hannah delivers an incandescent story about the resilience of the human spirit, the triumph of hope, and the mysterious places in the heart where love lies waiting.

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Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter Garden, Night Road, and Firefly Lane.

Her novel, The Nightingale, has been published in over 39 languages and is currently in movie development at Tri Star Pictures. Her novel, Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to direct.

Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer and the mother of one son who lives in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii with her husband. She began her writing career as a young mother and has never looked back. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, The Wall Street Journal and The Week. Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category.

 Fun Facts:

Spiderman or Superman: Batman.

Wonder Woman or Batgirl: Honestly, neither. Trinity from The Matrix is my girl.

Chunky or Smooth: Smooth.

Favorite flavor ice cream: Not a huge fan of ice cream (pastries are my downfall), but if forced to choose, I would say pistachio gelato.

Favorite ice cream topping: Fresh peaches cooked in butter and brown sugar, with just a hint of cinnamon.

Subway or Taxi: Okay, truth—taxi.

Broadway Show or Movie Theater: LOVE them both. I guess theater by a hair…

TiVo or DVR: DVR.

Favorite vacation place: So far–Botswana and Italy

Next vacation destination: Tahiti, I hope

Favorite NYC hotspot: Love everything about the city, so it’s hard to choose one. Single best memory is seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway with my husband and son, so I’ll say Broadway.

Guilty Pleasure: Cosmopolitans and massages

Good luck charm: My mom’s engagement diamond, which I wear on a chain.

When you were a little girl, you thought you would grow up to be a: Ballet dancer.

Last thing bought at the mall: The mall? I live on an island. Malls are exotic destinations for me. You’re more likely to catch me shopping at a small collection of main street shops or in the canyons of downtown Seattle. Last fun thing I bought was perfume for a friend at a duty free store in the airport.

Item on your grocery list: Tonight’s? Well I’m in Hawaii right now, so: fresh tiger shrimp, sweet thai chili sauce, lilikoi puree, coconut flakes, vegetables for roasting, and new skewers.

French fries or Onion Rings: Only fries. No onion rings for me.

Pizza: New York or Chicago? I come from the Pacific Northwest. New York AND Chicago.

Midnight snack: No midnight snacking. Does a glass of wine count?

Bookmark or dog ear? Okay, here’s something that makes me guilty; you’re right. Dog ear.

Read with dustjacket or remove it? With dust jacket.

Ocean, Lake, Desert, Mountain: Ocean.

Favorite book: Ever? To Kill a Mockingbird. Lately–The Shadow of the Wind.

Item you can’t live without: Since my family is an obvious answer, I’m going to say writing. I can’t go very long without writing or I get crabby. A quirky thing I can’t live without is…the perfect pen.

What kid or teen books made a difference in your world growing up? The Lord of the Rings, Dune, The Oz books, everything by Roald Dahl (especially Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), everything by S.E. Hinton.

Where do you like to write your books (bed ~ coffee shop ~ an office)?: All of the above. I write longhand, so I can be in bed, in a chair, on the beach, on the ferry going to town, on an airplane. Anywhere.

Describe your ideal place to write: In a room where I can see the ocean and hear the surf.

What are you reading at the moment?: Research books, mostly.

Where do you usually read?: See answer to where do I write. Everywhere.

Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?: Only if one doesn’t have my full attention. There’s nothing I love better than a book I can’t put down.

Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?: I tend to read nonfiction primarily when I’m researching an idea. Then I read solely nonfiction.

 

Past Readings

August 2017 Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard
July 2017 The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls
June 2017 Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser
May 2017 The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
April 2017 The Lake House by Kate Morton
March 2017 The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield
February 2017 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
January 2017 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
December 2016 Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
November 2016 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
October 2016 Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
September 2016 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
August 2016 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
July 2016  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
June 2016  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
May 2016  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
April 2016  Forgiven by Terri Roberts and Jeanette Windle
March 2016 The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
February 2016 Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
 January 2016  The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult