Stay Home, Stay Reading

As the world moves online in response to the coronavirus, virtual book gatherings have grown in popularity. At Everett Public Library, we have also moved many events and programs online in an effort to continue supporting the community while our buildings are temporarily closed. Check out our website, and you will find that many of our pre-pandemic events and programs have moved online.

We are devising educational and useful, as well as fun and funny, virtual programs and events to meet community needs, and there is no admission fee for any of it. Families can take part in virtual child-centered events and book lovers can attend virtual author talks, interacting with writers directly. But what about book discussions you might ask?

We are happy to report that those who would like to discuss a book, can now hop online and come to the library’s monthly virtual book club: Stay Home, Stay Reading.

The library recently kicked off our Fall programs with a virtual author talk with Ellen Feldman, who joined us on August 25th from New York City for a conversation and questions about her latest novel, Paris Never Leaves You. Appropriately this month, Stay Home, Stay Reading will be discussing her novel. Check out our virtual book club event, Saturday, September 26th from 11 a.m. until noon. Information on how to join the discussion can be found here

Feldman’s novel, published in June, follows survivors of occupied Paris throughout and after World War II. It is a story of love, hardship and thorny choices in this vivid depiction of history. The story alternates between 1940s Paris and 1950s New York City, where Charlotte faces tough decisions and life is exhausting for both her and her daughter, Vivi.

In 1940s Paris, they fight to leave and seem to be growing weaker and more hungry with every moment. Charlotte, who works in a Parisian bookstore, gets a reprieve when a soldier comes into the shop, takes a liking to her and helps the mother and daughter get to America.

In 1950s New York City, Charlotte works in publishing where she doesn’t exactly fit in. Matters complicate when Vivi is interested in unearthing her roots and starts asking dangerous questions. Survival comes at a cost, and Charlotte, who has lived with her secret past with a German officer in war-torn Paris, would rather Vivi not dig too much. 

If you enjoyed Paris Never Leaves You, you may also like these titles. They are all available from the library.

City of Women by David Gillham, 2012, 400pp.

Most World War II stories–movies or books–include Nazis, black marketeers, Jewish children hiding in root cellars and attics, and a mysterious, blonde German woman who appears to be keeping secrets, probably underneath her trench coat. When these elements are used over and over, they can become very familiar, losing their intrigue and complex meaning. Fortunately for readers, Gillham takes those parts often at the heart of many World War II tales and puts an original spin on them. In his historical fiction debut about 1943 Berlin, the city is almost empty of men. It has become a City Of Women. This being the height of World War II, most able-bodied men are at war. Sigrid, the wife of a soldier away at war, cares for her disagreeable mother-in-law, goes to work every day, does what she can with rations and wearily keeps up a facade. There is a lot at risk–life and death is not relegated to the front lines. She is secretly in love with a former flame–he is a Jew. She trusts no one until she is forced to, which brings this page turner to an end that is full of suspense.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, 2017, 448pp.

The Pulitzer Prize winner (A Visit From The Goon Squad, 2010) does it again. This time, Egan seamlessly weaves together stories and time periods in this, her first traditionally written novel. The book opens in 1934, and the depression is in full force for Eddie and his 12-year-old daughter, Anna Kerrigan. They are going to the Manhattan Beach home of Dexter Styles, a mobster, in search of work for Eddie. Eddie’s tired of the other job he has for a crooked union boss. He needs something that will pay enough money to purchase a wheelchair for Lydia, his severely disabled youngest daughter. The story jumps forward. Anna has become, at age 19, the first diver at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, and she alone is supporting Lydia and their mother because Eddie disappeared 5 years ago. Anna has a great amount of moxie and determination, which serves her well when she decides she will become a diver. Egan researched the naval yard and its divers for years which makes for detailed descriptions of diving at that time, including the diving suits: what a suit felt like on as well as moving underwater in one. One night Anna approaches Styles for information about her father, and they become involved. Egan successfully combines details of the 30s and 40s, crime fiction and compelling three-dimensional characters to vividly immerse readers in a layered, fluid world which makes great efforts to look at what makes us tick. 

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, 2016, 496pp.

Kelly’s compelling first novel features the stories of three women, who alternate first-person narratives for 20 years–between 1939 and 1959, during and after World War II. In 1939, Hitler is on the march. Poland is captured. In northern Germany, Ravensbrück, the women’s concentration camp, becomes home to 74 “rabbits,” women selected for medical experimentation. Two of the three characters are based on the actual women–one a Ravensbrück doctor, the other an American actress. The third character, Kasia, a rabbit, comes from a compilation of actual camp residents. Despite being set in a world of vicious Nazis, this story is about second chances and determined, gutsy women who help each other survive–in camp and beyond. 

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