Books clubs can be an enjoyable way to connect with friends over lively conversations about good books. Here are some reads recommended by two local book clubs: “The Low Stress Book Club” and “Reading Between the Wines.” The synopses were provided by the author’s websites or from Amazon.com.
The Low Stress Book Club
The Postmistress, Sarah Blake
In 1940, the lives of three women could not be more different as war rages in Europe. Iris James, postmistress of Franklin, Massachusetts, believes in order and details. She takes great pride in her work. All communications in the town come through her. The whole system works because of the neat efficient system and the trust. She keeps all the secrets of the residents, but one day, she breaks with everything she has ever believed, slipping a letter into her pocket. Emma Trask, wife of the town’s doctor Will Fitch, listens to all the radio broadcasts from London with her husband. When a tragedy provokes a change in her husband and a determination to go over to Europe, Emma guards herself against the tides of war raging across a distant ocean. In London, Frankie Bard, works with Edward R. Murrow.
Frankie listens to Murrow’s story advice, yet her spirit chafes against all the strictures and protocol imposed on her. Feisty, fearless and somewhat brash, she wants to get out the truth and stir her listeners to action. In 1941, Frankie rides the trains out of Germany, reporting on the war, listening to the voices of the so-called refugees. As she sees the war unfolding from a different perspective, her whole idea about the story itself changes.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life...as only a dog could tell it.
Reading Between the Wines
Sarah’s Key, Tatiana De Rosnay
July 1942 marked a dark period in the history of France where thousands of Jewish families were rounded up and forcibly kept in the Velodrome d’Hiver. They were then sent off to transit camps in France such as Drancy, before being packed off to Auschwitz. Based upon this seldom mentioned, little known piece of French history, author Tatiana de Rosnay has written a novel that alternates between the past in 1942, and the present. The past centers around a 10-year-old Jewish girl, Sarah Strazynski, who is forced to go to the Velodrome d’Hiver with her mother and father, innocently leaving behind a 4-year-old brother, Michel, locked in a secret cupboard with the assurance that she would return to let him out when it was safe.
The present revolves around writer Julia Jarmond, a transplanted American who is married to a Frenchman and finds herself being consumed by the story of the Vel d’Hiv incident. As she digs deeper, she uncovers dark secrets surrounding her husband’s family which are connected to the deportations of Jews from France.
The Language of God, Francis Collins
Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is one of the world’s leading scientists.
He works at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life. Yet he is also a man of unshakable faith in God and scripture. He believes that God cares about us and can intervene in human affairs—on rare occasions, even miraculously. Collins has personally discovered some of the scientific evidence for the common descent of all living creatures, even though he repudiates the materialist, atheistic worldview argued by many prominent Darwinists.
In short, Dr. Collins provides a satisfying solution for the dilemma that haunts everyone who believes in God and respects science. Faith in God and faith in science can be harmonious— combined into one worldview.
Compiled by Kia Ware