Eclectic Book Club

Eclectic Book Club: Thread of Grace

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

"It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as seemingly overnight it becomes an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive."

Eclectic Book Club: Save Me, Joe Louis

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

At its outset, Macrae, a Tennessee hillbilly with an artistic bent, goes AWOL from the army and is wandering the streets of Manhattan, broke and alone. A chance encounter with a streetwise, small-time mugger propels him into a life of crime and ever-increasing violence. Unlike his companion, however, Macrae retains a sense of guilt that ultimately enables him to secure a kind of redemption--with the help of a woman he has known since childhood and a final, necessary act of personal violence.

Eclectic Book Club: The Da Vinci Code

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Brown's latest thriller (after Angels and Demons) is an exhaustively researched page-turner about secret religious societies, ancient coverups and savage vengeance. The action kicks off in modern-day Paris with the murder of the Louvre's chief curator, whose body is found laid out in symbolic repose at the foot of the Mona Lisa. Seizing control of the case are Sophie Neveu, a lovely French police cryptologist, and Harvard symbol expert Robert Langdon, reprising his role from Brown's last book.

Eclectic Book Club: Among Schoolchildren

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. About half of her students are Hispanic; many come from broken homes. Through Kidder's calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac's daily round, we come to know her students' fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher's frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn. It's a tough job: in one social studies class, half the pupils can't name the country they live in.

Eclectic Book Club: In the Beauty of the Lilies

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Updike's 17th novel opens in 1910, just as Theodore Wilmot's father, a Presbyterian minister, suddenly loses his faith. His loss is visceral, and no amount of intellectualizing can deter him from his realization that he must leave the pulpit if he is to remain true to himself. Eighty years later, Theodore's grandson, a lost soul in the post-Vietnam War era who has found strange comfort in a radical religious cult, experiences his own catharsis, as the flames literally rage around him.

Eclectic Book Club: Cold Comfort Farm

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

In Gibbons's classic tale, first published in 1932, a resourceful young heroine finds herself in the gloomy, overwrought world of a Hardy or Bronte novel and proceeds to organize everyone out of their romantic tragedies into the pleasures of normal life. Flora Poste, orphaned at 19, chooses to live with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex, where cows are named Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless, and the proprietors, the dour Starkadder family, are tyrannized by Flora's mysterious aunt, who controls the household from a locked room.

Eclectic Book Club: The Bluest Eye

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Morrison's debut novel, The Bluest Eye, explores the impact of racism and poverty on adolescent Pecola Breedlove. Surrounded by images of white icons--Shirley Temple, Mary Jane, and the classic family from Dick and Jane readers--Pecola is tormented by both her family and peers. Alcoholism, rape, and humiliation drive her into the relative safety of madness where she finally finds the only bit of self-worth, believing her eyes are truly the bluest.

Eclectic Book Club: The Secret Life of Bees

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Lily Owens, 14, is an emotionally abused white girl living with her cold, uncaring father on a peach farm in rural South Carolina. The memory of her mother, who was accidentally killed in Lily's presence when she was four, haunts her constantly. She has one of her mother's few possessions, a picture of a black Madonna with the words, Tiburon, South Carolina, written on the back. Lily's companion during her sad childhood has been Rosaleen, the black woman hired to care for her.

Eclectic Book Club: All the King's Men

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 1:30pm - 2:30pm

A classic novel about American politics. Set in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character based on the real-life Huey Long of Louisiana.

Eclectic Book Club: All over But the Shoutin'

Location: Madison Public Library
Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

This haunting, harrowing, and gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin tells the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt poor in Alabama, and who became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times.

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