by Kit Darling
The Book Club members are busy working in their gardens or travelling so here are a few of our past reads, available at Hamilton Public Library. Visit the Bookmobile at Bennetto Recreation Centre on Tuesday from 2:30 to 4:30 and Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00.
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is set in Seattle during WW2. A young Chinese-American boy, Henry Lee meets Keiko Okabe at the English language school where, as the only Asian students they are the target of racism and bullying. When the government rounds up all of the Japanese Americans and interns them in camps far inland, Henry and Keiko are separated. It is only many years later, after Henry’s wife dies, that Henry and Keiko are reunited with the help of Henry’s son. Conflict and love between generations, war and injustice contrasted with the beauty of friendship and music are the ‘bitter and sweet’ of the title. (Nov. 2012)
The Girls by Lori Lansens opens with the lines “I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I never stood in the grass at night and raised my have arms to the beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I’ve never driven a car . Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved.” These words are written by Rose, one of the girls in the title, who is joined at the head to her twin sister Rose. (Dec. 2012)
The Birth House by Ami McKay follows the joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs of Dora Rare, the first girl in five generations of Rares. Situated in a remote Nova Scotia community in the early 20th century, the book addresses issues such as domestic abuse, bigotry, the Halifax Explosion and the blinkered attitudes of the medical profession and society in general toward women, women’s health and childbirth. Engaging characters and insights into life in the early 20th Century make this book a worthwhile read. (May 2013)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer the story is told through letters exchanged between Juliet Ashton, an author in search of her next book and a group of unlikely book lovers in post-war Guernsey. The characters came alive and the plot moved forward so easily that you forgot that you were reading a bunch of letters. The Literary Society was invented on the spot as an alibi for a group of residents of Guernsey to be out after curfew. The group had met clandestinely to feast on a pig that had been hidden from the German occupiers to prevent it from being confiscated. The characters are engaging and quirky. The occupation of the island of Guernsey was to be Hitler’s stepping stone to England and you learn much of the privations and indignities, the outright brutality of war and the triumph of human spirit as you read this book. (Apr. 2014)