Let's Begin:

Ann is reading The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler. “This is a touching story about Aaron moving on after his wife Dorothy is killed in a freak accident. He loved her for all her quirks and misses her terribly. He does “see” her after she dies and gets comfort from those visits. He does find a new relationship and life. I found this book to be okay and not up to Anne Tyler's previous work.”

Barbara B. is reading The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott but, she finds it a bit soap opera-ish. However, she is fascinated by Jacqueline Kennedy: the White House Years, "it offers an in-depth look at the clothes and era demonstrates how Jackie Kennedy became the beacon of style whose legacy is still with us today."

Barbara M. says, “I’m re-reading 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman in preparation for the book discussion Marianne and I will be doing on April 26th. I liked it the first time I read it and I still like it.”

Candace is reading March by Geraldine Brooks. “This historical fiction novel, my favorite genre, completely swept me away. The author based her novel on the characters in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and loosely on that period of the Civil War using the eloquent vernacular of the time. Ms. Brooks imagined that Mr. Marsh, the father in Little Women, was the Chaplain for the Union Army. By creating his (fictionalized) character around his personal ideals, his love for his family, and what he encountered and endured in the horrors yet seeming inevitability of the war, she depicted the greater landscape of that period. I particularly appreciated the complexity of his relationship with his wife as life began to challenge his ideals and pull him from being the man whom he felt was worthy of her.”

I am reading Damage by Josephine Hart. It's a story about a middle-aged doctor turned politician who leads a very safe, if not boring life with his wife Ingrid and their two children Sally and Martyn. Everything changes when he meets Anna Barton, his son’s new girlfriend. They begin a dark and torrid affair. I found it fascinating, watching stoic Stephen descend into obsession and destruction.

Jeanne has a lot this week: “when Gail Caldwell was chief book critic at the Boston Globe, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and was especially noted for her insight to contemporary life and literature. Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship is about her friendship with Caroline Knapp, also a writer of Drinking: A Love Story. Caldwell’s story-telling ability and precise, poignant style are testament to her prize-winning writing. Caldwell and Knapp are two extraordinary, independent women who meet by chance and for years, log many miles walking and rowing the Charles River where they share their struggles with men, alcohol and colleagues. Then Caroline is diagnosed with terminal cancer and this story is a tribute to their remarkable friendship. Anne Tyler’s latest, The Beginner’s Goodbye, has her usual cast of misfits struggling along in their ordinary lives. I keep reading her books because she does it with a unique style and she never fails to offer windows into the lives of her broken, disheartened characters that can provide an opportunity for personal reflection. Aaron Woolcott works in his family’s small publishing firm (with his overbearing sister) noted for their series “The Beginner’s…” you fill in the blank “Pregnancy, Investor, Gardener,” like the For Dummies series. They are young and single when Aaron meets his sister’s opposite and he falls in love. Or is it escape?”

Pat: “Last month Marianne's library book group read Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan so I thought I would read his newest book The Odds this week. Marion and Art have been through a lot during their 30 year marriage - betrayals, disappointments and job losses. Now facing bankruptcy and the collapse of their marriage they decide to travel to Niagara Falls for a second honeymoon. What are the "odds" that this couple would have a good time together as they sightsee by day and gamble at night?”

Priscilla is reading The Healing by Jonathan Odell. “Here is a magical, mystical story that grabbed me from chapter one. It is set on the Mississippi Delta, pre civil war, on a cotton plantation. Told by Gran Gran a former slave who is in her nineties, this tale weaves back and forth through past and present. Strong women, the human spirit, heartbreaking slave stories and never giving up hope will keep you reading. The ending was wonderful too!”