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Category Archives: Historical Fiction
Book Review A Gentleman in Moscow
MJ Readers Book Club recently read….
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
About the Book
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 endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
On the surface, ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ is the story of a Russian count dealing with the fallout of the Russian revolution on his living situation. However, it is so much more than that and this created a lively discussion in our group.
Russian history was woven throughout the story without suffocating the plot. The physical and character descriptions were vivid and the hotel where the count lived came to life along with everyone with whom he interacted. He displayed loyalty, friendship, good manners and ethics despite his restrictions. He turned what could have been horrific into something positive. He showed the power of the human spirit that resonated with us especially during our recent lockdown experiences. Some members struggled with the Russian names and didn’t fully engage with the story but overall we recommend this novel as it certainly made us think and ponder.
Best Books of June!
Take a look at what books were popular in the library this June!
Recently arrived and notables, a selection of books that arrived on the shelves in June.
Remember, if we don’t have a new title you would like to read you can always suggest we buy it! We will do our best to fulfil your request, and if purchased we place it on Hold for you.
For the Kids
Book Club Book Reviews April 2022
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.
But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?
We enjoyed reading Apples Never Fall and those members who have read other Liane Moriarty novels commented that it was a “more engaging read” than her last novel Nine Perfect Strangers.
The writer competently, and very often humorously, delved into the complexities of family dynamics between siblings, between children and parents and between couples.
The character development not only dealt with each sibling and adults interpersonal tensions but also their individual personal self doubts and life expectations.
The storyline is typical of this author’s storytelling ability to move easily between “past event” lead ups and the “now” to develop a very suspenseful novel. Some members found the plot “captivating” and did not expect the ending.
The Delaney family were found by the group to be an identifiable family group with their work and life histories engaging.
The character of Savannah was a slowly developing menacing presence throughout the story. She was the catalyst for much arguing and self reflection in the Delany family unit but her presence, actions and comments was also the cause of the family reuniting with more caring and understanding toward each other.
Savannah’s family life and her upbringing, as we slowly and deftly learn, was a sad and damaging contrast to that of the Delaneys.
There was much intrigue among readers with the ending of the book about the next chapter in Savannah’s life.
The writing was annoying to some readers in places with descriptions like “ancient old lady” but overall was a well written enjoyable story.
Read by MJ Readers
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
1944: After a high-society New Year’s Eve party, at which Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, disgrace themselves, they are cut off financially by his father who already is ashamed of a son not in uniform. In a misguided effort to regain the Colonel’s favour, Ellis and his best friend, Hank, convince Maddie to follow them across the Atlantic on a wild scheme, with little thought of the devastation of World War II raging in Europe.
The trio arrive amid tragedy and privation in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie, left on her own for much of the time, gradually builds friendships with the villagers who show her a larger world than she knew existed. As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of the beauty and surprising possibilities of life.
Three obnoxious, rich Americans cross the Atlantic by ship, despite the second World War raging around them, to search for evidence of the Loch Ness monster. On their arrival in inverness the only accommodation is a small Inn. The two male friends, Henk and Ellis, set out most days on their quest leaving poor naive Maddie, Ellis’s wife, at the Inn. Before too long she realises that her marriage is over. When one of the female staff has an altercation with her boyfriend in the bar of the Inn and he beats her almost to death, Maddie is drawn into the drama and rises to the occasion by taking up some of the caring role and other duties.
As all romantic novels end, the gruff Innkeeper, Angus, turns from frog into Prince when he announces that he is actually the Laird of the nearby Manor and in love with Maddie, the hard done by little rich girl. Rather conveniently, Ellis drowns on the shore of the lake leaving Maddie free to marry her prince.
There were differing opinions amongst our group about this novel, but we all agreed that it is a perfectly acceptable light read.
Read by Dundas Readers