Saturday, January 22, 2022

 Dear Great Book Guru,  As we are completing the second year of the pandemic, we all wonder how long will it last… and then I heard about a book written years ago that tells the story of a pandemic that lasted decades.  Do you know anything about it and- if so- worth reading?  Pandemic Weary

Dear Pandemic Weary,  Yes, the book is STATION ELEVEN  by Emily St. John Mandel and a TV series based on it has recently aired.   The story begins in Canada during a performance of “King Lear” and the actors we meet will reappear throughout the novel. As the play ends, a devastating virus attacks and millions of people quickly succumb – some whom we have just met. The survivors spread out over the United States and form unlikely communities- some live for decades in an airport, others form a religious cult, while actors from the original Shakespeare group band together in a “traveling symphony” that attempts to bring a touch of civilization in the midst of enormous despair.  There is a mystery that works its way throughout – a set of comic books that connects many of the survivors.  While the novel is terrifying on many levels, there is a sense that humanity prevails with the opening tragedy of “King Lear” giving way to the comedy of “Midsummer Night’s Dream. “ A difficult topic in difficult times but recommended!

Monday, January 17, 2022


Dear Great Book Guru, My friends and I would like to start a film/book discussion group and wondered if you had some suggestions as to where we could start.   Film/Book Buffs

 Dear Film/Book Buffs, What a great idea and I do have a pairing your group might want to begin with: THE LOST DAUGHTER. The novel was written by Elena Ferrante and the movie was just recently released to theaters and TV.   The novel opens with Leda, a middle-aged college professor vacationing in an Italian resort where she encounters a large, boisterous Neapolitan family.  Mother of two grown daughters, Leda is fascinated by Nina and her young child, Elena.  As Leda learns more and more about the family, we learn about Leda and her struggles as a young mother. Much of the time we are inside her mind, listening to her voice and observations, so we have to ask ourselves how reliable are these “facts.”   There is a prevailing sense of dread throughout as Leda struggles with her feelings about the past and the present.  While definitely a psychological mystery, the story is also a study of what it means to be a parent, particularly a mother.  The novel and movie follow one another closely but there are enough differences to spark lots of great discussion.