Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

NMRLS RA ROUND TABLE NOTES March 24, 2009

1. Wiki Troubles – May meeting ask if Shelley could give us a quick tutorial.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyers Appeal factors – relationships (teens – peer group), romance, intense emotional and sexual tension, page-turner [Leane’s note: Teens are reading it for the romance; adult women for the sexual tension. When making suggestions based on my list or anyone’s list be mindful of the level of sexuality in the book.]

3. Women’s Lives & Relationships – Primary appeal – about relationships & characterization. Appeal is that want to view through another lens some of the experiences as a woman. Secondary appeal – the book has to seduce you, you have to buy into the formula. Reader looking to be nurtured.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen Note: if recommending to patron, comment that book contains issues of abuse & abandonment Appeal – Magic realism, resolved ending/satisfying (to some) ending, romance, relationships

Plot – what did not appeal to you? Rebecca: happy ending was not realistic Donna: too contrived, magic was used as a plot device, fluff book Suzanne: typical quirky Southern characters, saccharin Michelle: do not like “realistic” books with abuse, confrontation with husband unrealistic

Sister relationship Leane: Do you feel both sisters were equally developed? Nanci: sisters equally developed, but felt huge chunks left out. Henry was completely undeveloped. Susan: sisters trying to resolve relationship with each other & their mother. Like aunt Evanelle & loved her relationship with Fred.

Pacing Eileen: slow in a good way Leane: pacing can be slow, deliberate, but be a compelling read. It was a quick easy read due to lots of dialog Nanci: there is a difference between a quick read (easy) & a fast read (page-turner)

Atmosphere Eileen: like a garden that you watch slowly growing and developing. Descriptions of food (idea of comfort, nurturing) Leane: likes magical realism because you have to suspend belief. The social stratosphere of familial drama & country club verses worker bee adds to the atmosphere & tone. We are looking for redemption and that happens in this story. Jan: people can relate to being an outsider, appeal to older teens Suzanne: who’s popular in HS and who is not & how it carries over into adulthood

[Leane’s Note: APPEAL on Garden Spells–CHARACTERIZATION (Relationships); FRAME (Southern small town setting & TONE (magical realism)]

Other Women’s titles chosen by group

Jan: Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer – 4 women meet at retirement party. How they met felt manipulative. Women form group to discuss their problems. Appeal – relationships between women, but more about emotional growth of indiv. women.

Similar book or author appeals – Secret Life of Bees; Barbara Kingsolver

Michelle: The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor YA novel – 2 sisters, sibling rivalry, 1 sister disappears in the night, other sister pushed aside, neglected as a result. About shifting relationships, loss, grief – issues. Characterization- portrayed well; Frame- very important, set in small town where something like that can’t happen, parents accused/suspected of foul play.

Similar book appeals – Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Tricia: Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg – protagonist Betta, is recently widowed. Tone – serious & often follows protagonist’s emotions as she grieves. Characterization – protagonist portrayed realistically. Secondary characters are quirky, fun and a counterpoint to Betta’s grieving process. Very emotional book, but an uplifting story & great for a recent widow.

Similar book appeal – Anita Diamant’s Good Harbor

Eileen: Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Armin It’s fiction, but autobiographical fiction – faction?. Diary or memoir, Elizabeth writes about her garden, nature, working in the dirt/outdoors at a time when women of her social class were not suppose to be working in the dirt & gardening. About her feelings, as she transforms this untamed garden into her own place of peace and solitude. Not about relationship with others but with herself & her garden. Also fits into the literary category. Pace – idyllic, gentle, meditative Plot – not really a plot Frame – garden, very important

Donna: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat Semi-autobiographical, main character Sophie lives in Haiti with her aunt. Her mother lives in New York City. When Sophie is 12 she is sent to New York to live with her mother. Sophie is a victim of sexual abuse by her mother. Sophie marries a man named Joseph, and she eventually returns to Haiti. This book focuses on family conflict and the relationship between Sophie and her aunt, grandmother, and mother. It is a debut novel and it fits into the literary category.

Becky: Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry Good book club book as you either hate it or love it. Self-published. Towner, young woman, returns to her home in Salem. Her great-aunt who taught her lace reading has gone missing. Her family has supernatural abilities. Pace – disjointed. The book has a beginning – slow, middle – was very interesting, and an end – which fell apart. There is romance with a local detective, this is the least realistic. Romance, relationship, supernatural element.

Similar book appeal – Practical Magic, Garden Spells

Suzanne: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows In letter format (epistolary – a favorite word of Leane). About a lot about relationships. Set in a specific location and time – Guernsey Islands. Has a happy ending.

Nanci: Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber, part of a series although seem to be able to read as a standalone. About relationships between this group of women that either live or work on Blossom St. They are all widows, all different ages. At a Valentine’s Day gathering, each woman makes a list of 20 wishes. The list helps them reach their goals and become fulfilled. Each are of course looking for love.

Leane: Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg Issue oriented, about relationship of 5 women. Not a happy ending, but a cathartic experience. For the reader who wants an emotional read, in need of a good cleansing. One of the women, Ruth is dying of breast cancer. All 5 of the women’s views are developed, but the main voice is of Ann. Ann sums up/explains the need for woman friendships when she says that she didn’t know that she needed someone to tell everything to until I met Ruth. Tough read, but compelling, humor, comfort, about letting go.

Please look at individual reports on the second titles read for this genre.

Thank you to Eileen Barrett for her excellent notes.

Thank you to the lovely Tricia & Michelle and the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers for their very delicious and bountiful breakfast spread.’