Last night’s reading and booktalk with author Margot Livesey was a great success. Many thanks to Margot for coming, and to the many library-goers who attended! Those who missed last night’s event might enjoy listening to an interview with Margot Livesey on the Leonard Lopate Show on NPR (February 7, 2012).
Below are the other books discussed (and recommended) last night:
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain: With great skill, Fountain creates the character of nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn, a member of the heroic Bravo Squad, home from the Iraq war for a two-week “victory tour” before shipping back to Iraq. During the course of the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day, Billy faces the hypocrisy of those who claim to support the troops, and considers the sacrifice he and his fellow soldiers are making.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: In this work of historical fiction, following on Mantel’s 2009 novel Wolf Hall, she writes “as if authenticity were magic rather than a science” (see James Woods’ review in The New Yorker). Her main character, Thomas Cromwell, having arranged King Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, now must arrange for Henry to set Anne aside in favor of Jane Seymour. In doing so, Cromwell gets to take revenge on those who brought down his mentor, Cardinal Wolsey.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: a retelling of Homer’s The Iliad from the point of view of Achilles’ friend and lover, Patroclus. This personal point of view makes the story even more wrenching, and the portrayals of the gods – such as Achilles’ sea-nymph mother, Thetis – are utterly believable.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility is the story of two young working women, Katey and Eve, and the wealthy young banker, Tinker Grey, they meet on New Year’s Eve. Old New York comes alive in the book, and Katey is a remarkably observant and wise narrator, without seeming distant from the action and events. (At one point, she says, “Let me observe that in moments of high emotion – whether they’re triggered by anger or envy, humiliation or resentment – if the next thing you’re going to say makes you feel better, then it’s probably the wrong thing to say.”)
Gold by Chris Cleave: In this timely novel, two cyclists compete for one spot in the London Olympics. Kate and Zoe have been friends and rivals for years; for reasons that are revealed in the course of the book, Kate missed out on Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, so London is her last chance to compete, but a rule change means only one of them will get to go. Will it be Zoe, who has nothing but her ambition? Or will it be Kate, who must divide her attention between her family – her husband Jack, and their eight-year-old daughter, Sophie, who has leukemia – and training to win gold?
And of course, if you haven’t yet read The Flight of Gemma Hardy, now is the time! Or, try one of Margot’s other books: Eva Moves the Furniture, The House on Fortune Street, The Missing World, Banishing Verona, and Criminals.