Book Club Discussion – Quentins by Maeve Binchy

The Last Thursday Reading Group discussed Quentins by Maeve Binchy.  Maeve Binchy’s novel set around the customers and staff of an iconic Dublin restaurant called Quentins, is an interesting blend of stories.

Love, hope, betrayal, despair are all represented in the lives of those people associated with Quentins as Ella Brady arrives to make a documentary about the restaurant. 

 The majority of the reading group enjoyed the book.  One reader thought it was a good romance and it had likeable characters.  Derry King was her favourite character.  Another reader thought that Ella was a clever, brave and nice girl who had fallen in love with the wrong man, Don Richard, who was a good looking cheater.  Another reader did not enjoy the book as much but admitted she didn’t like romance.  She did like Ella’s character as she always had good things about herself and was an interesting character.

During the meeting the group were given a demonstration of the new Playaway Books which the Library is now purchasing.  These new wave talking books are easy to use and small enough to be taken jogging, put into pockets and handbags and are easily portable.  One member was so impressed by the new books that she borrowed one straight away.

Posted in All

Review of Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

                                                                                                                       Dean’s pick

 Dave Eggers’ non-fiction account of an Islamic family’s experiences before and after Hurricane Katrina portrays an America at odds with its own ideals and principles. 

In his opening notes Eggers writes that he is not attempting to write an all-encompassing book about New Orleans or Hurricane Katrina, but only an account of one family’s experiences and opinions.  By personalising the story this way, Eggers puts a face to the many news reports that criticised the handling of the disaster.

Syrian born Abdulramen Zeitoun and his American wife, Kathy, have carved themselves their own slice of the American dream.  They run a successful painting and contracting business and own several investment properties. When the hurricane makes its way towards New Orleans, Kathy leaves with their children while Abdulramen stays behind to watch over his investments.  As New Orleans is flooded in the aftermath of the hurricane, Abdulramen rows around the disaster zone in an aluminium canoe, rescuing various people and feeding trapped dogs.  It is not until his persecution at the hands of those who are supposed to be helping that it becomes clear that New Orleans is being policed outside of America’s laws.

In the meantime Kathy, who is a convert to Islam, is left to endure racial stereotyping from her Baptist family, liaise with Abdulramen’s family and wonder if she will see her husband again.

With what can only be described as a plain, matter of fact writing style, Eggers avoids the trickery that made him a literary boy wonder and gives a personal rendition of a family confronted by brutality and injustice in a post 9-11 America.

Posted in All

Author of the Month – Ashley Ekins

Are you interested in  military history and the contribution our troops made in the final year of that great slaughter entitled the First World War?  If so, please come to our next Lunchtime Author’s Talk and meet Ashley Ekins, head of the Military History Section  at the Australian War Memorial.

  Ashley Ekins will provide a very interesting talk on the book "1918 year of victory: the end of the Great War and the shaping of history."  This book is a superb collection of works written by respected military historians from Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA and Canada.  It gives a unique overview of the last year of the Great War and challenges almost every aspect of its legacy drawing new ideas and new conclusions.  This is a timely talk considering that ANZAC Day is fast approaching. Students studying the Great War for the HSC will find this talk a valuable aid.

Ashley Ekins will be at Parramatta City Library on the 14th April 2010 from 1 – 2 p.m. Admittance is free and light refreshments will be provided after the talk.  Bookings are required for catering purposes. We look forward to seeing you there.

Posted in All

Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

When I heard that Robert Jordan had died without finishing his epic Wheel of Time Saga, I was devastated.

  I had spent hundreds of happy hours over many years immersed in the fantasy world that Jordan had created – following the adventures of an ever increasing cast of characters as they prepared for the final battle.  Eleven thick books had been read and now I was deprived of my ending. I’ll admit that I was frustrated when his last three books failed to move the story along as far as I had hoped.  He was trying to tell what each main character was doing and so the broad story tended to get lost.  However, I kept reading because I loved the characters and their adventures.  Now I would never know what happened.  Imagine my joy, therefore, when Jordan’s family and publishers took pity on his unhappy fans.  They commissioned Brandon Sanderson, a self confessed Wheel of Time addict, to finish the saga. 

 The Gathering Storm is the first of the three books which will bring this epic saga to a close.  Using notes, a partially written manuscript and lots of imagination Brandon Sanderson has created a book which is almost indistinguishable from Jordan’s own writing.  The characters, the action, the suspense are all there – and the style is as easy to read.  I could almost imagine Robert Jordan dictating to his new apprentice.  Those who love the Wheel of Time won’t be disappointed.  Those who became frustrated and decided to leave the series, may wish to return.  Like Tarmon Gai’don the end of this great series is approaching.

Posted in All

Book Club Discussion – Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan

The Evening Reading Group’s chosen book for this month was Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan.  This book tells an inspiring and amusing sea change story.

  Devestated after the unexpected deaths of her beloved husband and brother, Susan Duncan, a successful career woman, finally reaches a point when she feels she can no longer continue.  She decides to leave her former life behind and start a new one in a tiny waterside community cut off from the rest of the world.

Although only one member of the group was able to finish the book in its entirety, the overall opinion was that the book was inspirational and relatable.  It portrayed the lifestyle at Pittwater well and had a good sense of the community into which the author now found herself living.  The group wondered if the book would have been different if the author had children.  They gave the book a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Posted in All