Book Club Ideas
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.
In 1918, after serving in WWI, Tom Sherbourne welcomes his quiet job as lighthouse keeper on Australia’s remote Janus Rock, as does his loving new wife. But three years later, a childless Isabel is bereft after suffering her third miscarriage. Tending the new grave, Isabel hears the cry of a baby; a boat has washed ashore with a dead man—and a living infant….
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743.
In Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie two young boys, the narrator age 17, and his best friend, Luo, age 18, are sent to a remote village in the mountainous Szechuan region of China in the 1970’s as part of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution of China vilified intellectuals. Schools were closed and many of the educated-class were imprisioned or sent to live in the country for hard manual labor and re-education by the peasant-class. The two exiled friends meet the Little Seamstress, a young illiterate peasant girl, and, ironically, discover a secret cache of Western literature, which has a profound affect on both boys and the Little Seamstress.