Books for the 2019 Book Club Year
In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas?“The Butterflies.” In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters - Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dede - speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kieran
At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not appear on any map. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the U.S., were recruited to this secret city, enticed by the promise of solid wages and war-ending work. What were they actually doing there? Very few knew. The purpose of this mysterious government project was kept a secret from the outside world and from the majority of the residents themselves. Some wondered why, despite the constant work and round-the-clock activity in this makeshift town, did no tangible product of any kind ever seem to leave its guarded gates? The women who kept this town running would find out at the end of the war, when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed and changed the world forever. Drawing from the voices and experiences of the women who lived and worked in Oak Ridge, The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of World War II from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage.
Wicked Omaha by Ryan Roenfeld
In old Omaha, the scent of opium wafted through saloon doors, while prostitutes openly solicited customers. When the St. Elmo theater ran short of the usual entertainment, the residents could always fall back on robbing strangers. Tenants of the Burnt District squirmed under the extorting thumb of a furniture dealer dubbed the Man-Landlady. The games of chance and confidence and outright municipal graft all played a part in a wicked city where gambler Tom Dennison ran politics and Madam Anna Wilson drove philanthropy. Join Ryan Roenfeld for a stroll along the seamier side of Omaha's past.
The Girl with Braided Hair by Margaret Coel
Attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley investigate the death of Liz Plenty Horses - a woman murdered back in 1973 after being accused of betraying the militant American Indian Movement - and incite the malice of a long-dormant killer.
The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho by Anjanette Delgado
Two divorces have taught Mariela Estevez that she's better suited to being a mistress than a wife. Whose heart needs all that "forever after" trouble? Still, her affair with her married lover, Hector, has become problematic--especially because he's also a tenant in her apartment building in the heart of Miami's Calle Ocho in Little Havana. But when Hector is found dead just steps from Mariela's back door, on the eve of her fortieth birthday, she's forced to examine her life--and come up with a plan to save it, fast.
Complicating matters, Hector's passing sparks the unexpected return of a gift Mariela rejected years ago and thought she'd never have to face again: clairvoyance. Suddenly, Mariela's visions come swiftly and unbidden, as do revelations about her other tenants. Lost loves, hidden yearnings, old jealousies--all reside on Calle Ocho. Most of all, Mariela's second sight awakens her not just to the truth about Hector's death and the secrets in others' lives--but to the possibilities blooming within her own. With warmth, wit, and insight, award-winning author Anjanette Delgado explores one woman's flawed but heartfelt attempt to live and love well, transporting readers to the center of contemporary Little Havana and a community of uniquely human, unforgettable characters.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicky Leon
"A person should aspire to be an original, not a copy." -Queen Christina of Sweden (17th century) They were passionate about power and politics. They were warriors for justice and equality. They sought knowledge and meaning. Girls and grannies, rebels and reformers, sovereigns and slaves-they all heeded their hearts and spoke their minds. Discover history's icons and independent spirits through brief, eye-opening "she saids" alongside explorations of each woman and her quote. From ancient times to the modern day, these leaders and role models explored new worlds, faced formidable foes, and sacrificed much. Now their words remind us of where we've been . . . and how far we've come. These 170 wise, witty remarks come down through the ages from such prominent personalities, notorious names, and unsung heroes as . . . - Boudicca, warrior queen: "In this battle, you must conquer or die. This is a woman's resolve." - Mary Mason Lyon, education pioneer: "Go where no one else will go; do what no one else will do." - Marie de Gournay, feminist author: "Men and women are equal in everything-except opportunity." - Hypatia of Alexandria, celibate mathematician: "I'm wedded to the truth." - Thérèse of Lisieux, Carmelite nun: "You ask me for a method of attaining perfection. I know Love-and Love only!" - Sarah Bernhardt, stage and silent-film actress: "My body will soon be dust [but] my glory will live forever." These shrewd, sassy women will shock, awe, and delight you!
Looking for Mr. Darcy by Sue Pickard
Should Pride and Prejudice be banned? Absolutely yes, according to Laura because it results in Mr. Darcy syndrome, the futile pursuit of totally unsuitable men in the hope that they'll turn out all right in the end, like Mr. Darcy. Laura's unsuitable man is the mysterious Mr. Hunter who betrays and abandons her, leaving her not only broken-hearted but also in serious trouble. At least she's been cured of the syndrome though. Or perhaps not. Will she find her Mr. Darcy? Follow Laura's adventures and misadventures as she continues her quest, unearthing long held family secrets on the way. Feel free to offer her advice as she faces an agonizing dilemma. And discover, as she does, that where Mr. Darcy syndrome is concerned, there really is only ever one cure.
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
Before everything changed, young Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: whatever the future has in store for them, they’ll meet it together.
Hope appears in the form of the S.S. St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews safe passage out of Germany. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart on the luxurious ship bound for Havana. Life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for the refugees, with masquerade balls, exquisite meals, and polite, respectful service. But soon ominous rumors from Cuba undermine the passengers’ fragile sense of safety. From one day to the next, impossible choices are offered, unthinkable sacrifices are made, and the ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their doom. Seven decades later in New York City, on her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a strange package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents will inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family’s mysterious and tragic past, a quest that will help Anna understand her place and her purpose in the world.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Calgon
Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story by Nellie Snyder Yoot
Sad but true story of greed, abuse and one woman’s fight for power. Annie Cook was born in July 1875. Her parents immigrated from Russia and moved to Denver, Colorado. Upon arriving in Denver, they opened a livery stable. The Cook's had a large family and everyone worked hard, even Annie and her sister Lizzie. Annie didn't mind the hard work. What DID bother her was the fact that since she was female and she didn't get paid for all the hard work. In 1893, an opportunity came along that was just what Annie needed to get away from her family and start making some money of her own. A man named Frank Cook from Hershey, NE, had come to Denver for supplies for his new 80-acre farm. After striking up a friendship with him, Annie found out that the farm was in fairly good shape. Annie knew a good thing when she saw it and immediately accepted Frank's offer of marriage. They arrived in Hershey in the late winter of 1893. Her childhood frustrations of being denied money (because she was female) fueled her desire to own land and make money. She demanded power and respect from everyone around her. After arriving at the farm, she quickly became dissatisfied with the land. So she devised a plot to make more money, so she could buy the land from her neighbors, thereby doubling the size of her farm and acreage. Once that was accomplished, she still wanted more-more land, more money, and more property. Annie was smart and realized that in order for her to be successful as successful as a man, she needed to grease the palms of corrupt government officials. Annie knew just how to exploit those around her for the own selfish gain. In 1896, Annie gave birth to a daughter, Clara. Annie's daughter was just another employee, as far as Annie was concerned. As soon as Clara was old enough, Annie put her to work in a prostitution house that Annie had acquired in many business dealings. Annie's husband Frank became fed up with the overbearing nature of his wife. Frank was not a confrontational man and when Annie accused Frank of sexually assaulting Clara, he was finally fed up with Annie. Frank moved to the barn and lived there until he died in 1936. Annie's life was driven by the almighty dollar and she didn't waste and time settling into a life of what became many, many years of selfish, greedy, domination and abuse of anyone who crossed her path. Many North Platte residents knew and feared Annie. Annie, Frank and Clara are all buried at the North Platte Cemetery.
The Children of Willesdan Lane: Beyond the Kingertranstport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival by Mona Golacbk and Lee Cohen
Mona Golabek tells the tale of her mother Lisa Jura Golabek's escape from Nazi-controlled Austria to England on the infamous Kindertransport. Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura has a wonderful life in Vienna. But when the Nazis start closing in on the city, life changes irreversibly. Although he has three daughters, Lisa's father is able to secure only one berth on the Kindertransport. The family decides to send Lisa to London so that she may pursue her dreams of a career as a concert pianist. Separated from her beloved family, Lisa bravely endures the trip and a disastrous posting outside London before finding her way to the Willesden Lane Orphanage. Her music inspires the other orphanage children, and they, in turn, cheer her on in her efforts to make good on her promise to her family to realize her musical potential. Through hard work and sheer pluck, Lisa wins a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Academy. As she supports herself and studies, she makes a new life for herself and dreams of reconnecting with the family she was forced to leave behind. The resulting tale delivers a message of the power of music to uplift the human spirit and to grant the individual soul endurance, patience, and peace.