New Woodstock Free Library 2020 Book Group Choices
January – Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground.
Fiction MCC – 349 pgs
February – French Gardener by Santa Montefiore
It begins as Miranda and David Claybourne move into a country house with a once-beautiful garden. Soon the latent unhappiness in the family begins to come to the surface, isolating each family member in a bubble of resentment and loneliness.
Then an enigmatic Frenchman arrives on their doorstep. With the wisdom of nature, he slowly begins to heal the past and the present. But who is he? When Miranda reads about his past in a diary she finds in the cottage by the garden, the whole family learns that a garden, like love itself, can restore the human spirit, not just season after season, but generation after generation.
Fiction MON – 406 pgs
March – Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Andrew Peardew collects things dropped or left behind by others and writing stories about them. He does this as a tribute to the fiancée who died the day he lost one of her keepsakes. When a dying Andrew bequeaths his estate to his assistant, Laura, she begins to bond with new neighbors while attempting to reunite the objects with their owners.
Fiction HOG – 278 pgs
April – Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now–her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl–but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed–and has not.
Fiction ROO -304 pgs
May – At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
A family from Connecticut struggles to establish an apple orchard in the swamplands of Ohio. James Goodenough can trace his family and his beloved Golden Pippin apples back to England, though he seeks his own future away from his family’s farm. The story of his adventure going west unfolds from his point of view as well as from that of Sadie, his contentious wife, a tough woman with a wild libido and a hankering for applejack.
Fiction CHE – 298 pgs
June – Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the world of reading.
Biography Nafisi – 347 pgs
July – Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
Claire Limyè Lanmè is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life.
But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself.
Fiction DAN – 238 pgs
August – Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg
Rick Bragg continues his personal history of the Deep South. This time he’s writing about his grandfather Charlie Bundrum, a man who died before Bragg was born but left an indelible imprint on the people who loved him. Drawing on their memories, Bragg reconstructs the life of an unlettered roofer who kept food on his family’s table through the worst of the Great Depression; a moonshiner who drank exactly one pint for every gallon he sold; an unregenerate brawler, who could sit for hours with a baby in the crook of his arm.
Biography Bundrum – 259 pgs
September – Heartland A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh
During Smarsh’s turbulent childhood in Kansas in the ’80s and ’90s, the forces of cyclical poverty and the country’s changing economic policies solidified her family’s place among the working poor. Her personal history affirms the corrosive impact intergenerational poverty can have on individuals, families, and communities. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, this is an uncompromising look at class, identity, and the particular perils of having less in a country known for its excess.
Biography Smarsh – 290 pgs
October – American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.
Fiction GOO – 468 pgs
November – Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.
Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever.
Fiction SIL – 276 pgs