Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book Clubs

I know I promised a review of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, but I have been putting it off. Here's why:

The Pfeiffer Student Book Club met for the first time back in September. I was a little apprehensive about it because I wondered just how many college students would be interested in a book club. So, of course I used bribery and offered free pizza! To my surprise, we had 12 people in attendance and about five more who indicated that they wanted to come but had class or other obligations. During that first meeting, there was a great deal of energy. The students chose a great book for the first read -- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Everything went great!

Our second meeting was October 24 (the students decided to keep the meetings on the 4th Wednesday at noon), and one student showed up! I couldn't believe it. After waiting about 10 minutes for stragglers who never came, Cindy (a library staff member), the student and I ended up having a really good discussion about the book. The student had read the book in one sitting and loved it. After the initial disappointment, I decided that as long as one person showed up, I would keep doing it. Over the course of the next few days, several students came by or e-mailed to tell me that they hadn't come for one reason or another but that they read the book and was still interested in the book club. So, I have quit pouting, and here is a brief review.

The Thirteenth Tale fits nicely into the Gothic tradition and was a perfect choice for October. Miss Vida Winter is a reclusive author who has given numerous interviews throughout her career. However, she is not very forthcoming with personal information. In fact, she has given nineteen different accounts of her life. Now, Ms. Winter is dying and wants to tell her story. She chooses Margaret Lea, a young biographer and the daughter of a rare book dealer. She summons Margaret to her estate and begins by asking her if she wants to hear a ghost story. Margaret is soon drawn into the strange world of the Angelfield family complete with ghosts, spooky estates, tragic fires, murder and suicide. Ms. Winter and Margaret have a few things in common -- they are both twins, which plays a huge part in the story, and they both live in a world of books. As Ms. Winter weaves her ghost story, Margaret must face her own ghosts. The mystery comes together in the end in a very unexpected way. This book was a joy to read. The language is absolutely beautiful. She evokes the settings so vividly that you really are drawn into this world. It's hard to believe that it's a first novel.

10 comments:

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

This was such a great book. I'm glad the initial discussion was good! I'm sure as time goes on more students will get involved - not like you're meeting at 8am or something!! :)

Heather
www.thelibraryladder.blogspot.com

Lisa said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I know I shouldn't be discouraged. Students have so much going on. I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that we probably won't have 11 or 12 students each time. But, like I said, as long as somebody shows up, I'll be there. I'll be reading the book anyway. Thanks again for stopping by!

Tara said...

Sorry to heard about the turnout for your first bookclub meeting! I also enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale, very entertaining.

Maggie said...

Ew, do The Book Thief next!

Like Heather said it will pick up.

I started a librarian book club and invited all the librarians (school/public/college), rented a B&B, and had 8 commitments and only one showed. We had a nice conversation but she didn't like the book! Oh, well...

jenclair said...

The Thirteenth Tale was one of my favorite books from last year!

Good for you for continuing with the book club. If I were still teaching, I would have a Book Club Blog. I did use a site while teaching, and the students were much more interested in my classroom site than I would have thought. Now that I've discovered blogging, I realize what a great resource this kind of communication could have been.

Lisa said...

I just wanted to thank everyone for all of their encouraging comments regarding the book club! I guess it just takes time. I belong to a book club off campus, which has been going for probably 10 years, and there are still some evenings when only a couple show up. Unfortunately,we're all so busy that sometimes we can't even take time for one of our favorite things -- talking about books!

Bluestalking Reader said...

Lisa, I read this one for review back when it came out in the UK, and I agree it's wonderful. It's so well done. A lot of books try to hit the mark this one does and fail, but this one was right on.

Lisa said...

I know what you mean. I'm trying to finish Ex Libris by Ross King now. I was hoping it would be similar except of course set in 17th century London. However, I have been very disappointed. It feels very much like a history lesson. I can't get into the story of the characters' lives because he keeps stopping to give a history lecture. Don't get me wrong, I love history. My undergraduate degree was in history, but this is just too much. I wonder if I'm the only one or if it is just the timing reading this one. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

Mary said...

Thank you so much for the "Thirteenth Tail" review. It sounds like a great read. I will have to pick it up once I'm done with a current book that I can't put down!

I just read a book by an author who is very similar to Nicholas Sparks - His name is Rob Costelloe. I think you'd like his work. Maybe it could be part of your read list. I highly recommend it.

Keep up the great work with the club and most of all have fun!

Mary :>)

Lisa said...

Thanks, Mary. I love Nicholas Sparks. I will have to try this author. I've never heard of him. I'll persevere with the club. Thanks for the encouragement!