Unsheltered Discussion

Another great discussion at Pageturners about Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. “Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerising story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realise that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred – whether family or friends – and in the strength of the human spirit.” Quoted from bookbrowse.com

So our discussion covered the meaning of the title, characters, the structure – alternating from the present to the past, the falling down house, relationships, Trump, climate change, healthcare, employment, Vineland, Utopia, marriage and modern America.

Comments included “loved it, shows history repeats, took awhile to get invested in the characters, loved the history parts, I loved the modern part, Tig is amazing, it is two stories, the characters in each timeframe mirrored each other, it was about Trump without mentioning his name, big ideas – Creationism vs Darwinism, unsheltered was used right throughout the story, really resonated with me, about change and resilience, loved how the last line of the chapter was the heading for the next, Tig really stepped up, Zeke neglected his baby, loved Mary Treat, the house was integral to the story, the father-in-law was cranky, they had no solid foundation, loved the scene where they looked at Christmas lights, loved the mother-daughter talk about relationships, loved the scene with the husband’s student, I liked the way it ends, loved the use of quotes.”

Star ratings: Lots of 4 out of 5 for this one.

Fun-fact: Barbara Kingsolver changed the title from Unresolved to Unsheltered at the last minute!

Movie Casting: We also had a discussion about casting this book for a movie. Please let us know your suggestions. So far we have (with a few additions):

Willa: Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter, Gillian Anderson

Iano: George Clooney

Nick: Nick Nolte, Clint Eastwood

Zeke: Ansel Engort, Max Irons

Tig: Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander

Jorge: Karl Glusman

Mary Treat: Meryl Streep, Glenn Close

Thatcher: Colin Firth, Dominic West

Rose: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst

Polly: Natalie Portman

Charles Landis: Donald John Trump

Uri Carruth: Robert Duvall, Ed Harris

And our major transgression was to hand-washing ?

Next read: The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel and a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond by the Scottish author John Buchan. It was published in a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine in August and September 1915 before being published as a book in October that year. It is our classic read for Wednesday 9 October 2019 from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Borrow the book or watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Other links (click on the light blue text):

Allen & Unwin discussion questions with links to Mary Treat and Vineland

Report on Kingsolver’s London talk with “love letter to millennials” quote

Interview with The Guardian

SMH Review

Upcoming Reads

The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel and a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond by the Scottish author John Buchan. It was published in a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine in August and September 1915 before being published as a book in October that year. It is our classic read for Wednesday 9 October 2019 from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library.

About the book:

Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers. 

About the Author

John Buchan (1875-1940) was born in Perth, Scotland and educated at Oxford where he published five books and won several awards, including one for poetry. He went on to be a barrister, a member of parliament, a soldier, a publisher, a historical biographer, and – in 1935 – he became the Governor-General of Canada. Today he is best remembered as the author of his perennially popular adventure novels.

In The Testaments – the electrifying sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred? The recently released book will be up for discussion on Wednesday 13 November from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library.

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, is a modern classic. Now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel. More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood.

The last meeting of the year will be held on Wednesday 11 December with the book for discussion to be announced soon.

Top 10 Fiction Bestsellers

Here is the Top 10 Bestselling Fiction for the Week from Better Reading via Neilsen Bookscan:

  1. The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz (Hachette)
  2. The Inn by James Patterson and Candice Fox (Century)
  3. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins)
  4. One Good Deed by David Baldacci (Macmillan)
  5. The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante (Zaffre Publishing)
  6. Tidelands by Philippa Gregory (Simon & Schuster)
  7. Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (Hachette)
  8. White Horses by Rachael Treasure (Echo Publishing)
  9. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Echo Publishing)
  10. The New Girl by Daniel Silva (Harper Collins)

Pageturners September Read

The international bestselling author of The Lacuna, Flight Behaviour and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards – including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize – returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resilience and compassion in times of great upheaval.

2016 Vineland
Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy for her shattered life and family – or the crumbling house that contains her.

1871 Vineland
Thatcher Greenwood, the new science teacher, is a fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, and he is keen to communicate his ideas to his students. But those in power in Thatcher’s small town have no desire for a new world order. Thatcher and his teachings are not welcome.

Both Willa and Thatcher resist the prevailing logic. Both are asked to pay a high price for their courage. But both also find inspiration – and an unlikely kindred spirit – in Mary Treat, a scientist, adventurer and anachronism.

A testament to both the resilience and persistent myopia of the human condition, Unsheltered explores the foundations we build in life, spanning time and place to give us all a clearer look at those around us, and perhaps ourselves. It is a novel that speaks truly to our times.

We will be discussing Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver on Wednesday 11 September from 5.30pm – 7pm at Orange City Library. Please RSVP online or call the Library on 6393 8132. All welcome.

Fled Comments

Jenny Gwyn has proven herself a survivor. Faced with destitution after the death of her father, she toughens her skin to become a highwaywoman in order to support her impoverished family. But one fatal mistake leads to her arrest, and the king’s justice demands her death. Rather than beg for mercy, Jenny condemns the system that would have her choose between obeying the law and dying, and breaking it for a chance to live. Her ferocity convinces the judge to spare her life, sentencing her and dozens of other convicts to a transport across the world to help settle England’s newest colony in Australia.

Based on the true story of Mary Bryant, an iconic figure in the foundation lore of Australia as Great Britain’s penal colony, Fled by Meg Keneally is a sweeping, heart-wrenching account of one woman’s life-long search for freedom.

Pageturners spoke about Jenny’s (Mary’s) character, her husband Dan, the themes – survival, injustice, class, resilience, hardship endured by First Fleet, sailing dramas, navigation, trauma of losing children, Indigenous element, the cover design, the meaning of the title, and the challenges of writing historical fiction and non-fiction.

Comments included: “loving it, love her writing style and economy of words, not a word wasted, familiar with story of Mary Bryant, just like a movie – I’m right there beside her, clever writing, it just irked me that she had someone else’s name, easy to read, it fleshes out her story a lot, gruesome read, fleeing from poverty, the law, penal colony, abrupt ending, not all believable, she was not a hero, I learnt about the start of Australia, I wanted to know what her later life might have been like.”

Most Pageturners rated the book 4 stars out of 5.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 September from 5.30pm to discuss Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Miles Franklin Winner

Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, has been awarded to acclaimed Indigenous novelist Melissa Lucashenko for Too Much Lip, published by University of Queensland Press.

Chair of the judging panel, State Library of NSW’s Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville said, “Too Much Lip is driven by personal experience, historical injustice, anger and what in Indigenous vernacular could be described as ‘deadly Blak’ humour. Lucashenko weaves a (sometimes) fabulous tale with the very real politics of cultural survival to offer a story of hope and redemption for all Australians.”

The judges said: “Too Much Lip is a novel of celebratory defiance. Set in Bundjalung country, this fast-paced, hard-hitting narrative confronts political corruption, poverty, intergenerational trauma and various forms of violence and abuse, with humour, wit and fury. Lucashenko’s Goorie characters wrestle with personal wounds and long-held grievances. They exist on the margins: of power, the law, small-town society and, often, personal responsibility. Yet they know the stories passed down from their grandmothers. They remain connected to Country. When Granny Ava’s Island is under threat of development the Salter mob come into their own. Country must not and cannot be taken away.”

And yes, a Pageturner guessed this would win.

Meet Author Felicity McLean

Meet author of The Van Apfel Girls are Gone Felicity McLean fresh from her US tour at:

Orange Readers and Writers Festival Sat 3 August

Blayney Library Mon 5 August 11am

Molong Library Mon 5 August 2pm

Forbes Library Tues 6 August 2pm

Cowra Library Wed 7 August 2pm

Felicity is an international publishing sensation with rights to her book sold to the US, UK, Spain and France. Come along and ask Felicity your questions about the book.

August Meeting: Fled

The August meeting will be an opportunity to chat about Fled by Meg Keneally. Click here to RSVP for the meeting on Wednesday 14 August 5.30pm – 7pm.

Highway robber. Convict. Runaway. Mother. She will do anything for freedom, but at what cost?

Jenny Trelawney is no ordinary thief. Forced by poverty to live in the forest, she becomes a successful highwaywoman – until her luck runs out.
 
Transported to Britain’s furthest colony, Jenny must tackle new challenges and growing responsibilities. And when famine hits the new colony, Jenny becomes convinced that those she most cares about will not survive. She becomes the leader in a grand plot of escape, but is survival any more certain in a small open boat on an unknown ocean?

Meg Keneally’s debut solo novel is an epic historical adventure based on the extraordinary life of convict Mary Bryant.

Meg Keneally worked as a public affairs officer, sub-editor, freelance feature writer, reporter, and talkback radio producer, before co-founding a financial service public relations company, which she then sold after having her first child. For more than ten years, Meg has worked in corporate affairs for listed financial services companies, and doubles as a part-time Scuba diving instructor. She is co-author with Tom Keneally of The Soldier’s Curse and The Unmourned, the first two books in The Monsarrat Series. Fled is her first solo novel.

You can meet Meg Keneally at the Orange Readers and Writers Festival as part of the Orange Winter Fire Festival on Saturday 3 August from 10am – 3.30pm at the Hotel Canobolas. Tickets for $90pp to see five authors – Debra Adelaide, Meg Keneally, Felicity McLean, Tim Ayliffe and Summer Land are on sale at through the www.orangewinterfirefestival.com.au website or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Library Up Late Event

Join us after closing time at Orange City Library for our premiere Library Up Late event on Friday 19th July from 7pm – 9pm. As part of Central West Libraries’ One Library One Book project we are exploring Felicity McLean’s debut novel The Van Apfel Girls are Gone. Enjoy performances from the book brought to life by local actors.

An entertaining evening of storytelling awaits you. Experience this Australian bush mystery in a dramatic and immersive way. We ask the question: What really happened to the Van Apfel girls?

Following the performance, enjoy interacting with some of the more diverse elements of our library’s collection, through an engaging installation of curated objects. Please RSVP online via eventbrite.com or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Miles Franklin Discussion

Our Pageturners read The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, Flames by Robbie Arnott and The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad.

Comments about The Lucky Galah: “I loved this book, it’s quirky and Australian, one of the most delightful books I have ever read, it had the background of the moon landing, the bird was a prisoner in his cage, it was told from the point of view of the galah.”

Comments about Boy Swallows Universe – “beautiful writing in parts, very contrived story, it is based on his real life, lovely use of language, it had a Hollywood ending, I enjoyed it, he had a difficult childhood, very readable, a love story to his family.”

Comments about Flames – “strange tale of what happens to a family after they die, set in Tasmania, they become plants, about their rebirth, death of the mother is important, its about the bonds of family, there is joy and sadness, the power of language. I enjoyed it, at the start I wondered what the hell I was in for, but it is different.”

Comments about The Lebs – “I didn’t like it, too much chaos and violence, the foul language, probably quite authentic but it didn’t’ hold me.”

After a discussion of the longlisted books for the Miles Franklin Literary award, Pageturners had a great time trying to decide on a winner from the shortlisted books.

The Shortlisted book are:

The shortlisted titles are:
The Lebs (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette)
A Sand Archive (Gregory Day, Picador)
•A Stolen Season (Rodney Hall, Picador)
The Death of Noah Glass (Gail Jones, Text)
Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko, UQP)
Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills, Picador).

Let us know your guess for the winner and a prize will be awarded for the correct prediction.

The 2019 winner will be announced on Tuesday 30 July.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 August at 5.30pn to discuss Fled by Meg Keneally. Meg will be one of our special guests at the Orange Readers and Writers Festival to be held on Saturday 3rd August from 10am to 3.30pm at the Hotel Canobolas, Orange. Tickets are $90pp, include morning tea and lunch, and are available from Orange City Library or go online to www.orangewinterfirefestival.com.au.