Articles & Books


Don Heights Book Group

October 16, 2011 – The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver – This book contains two very distinct parts. One features a vibrant Mexican landscape of the 1930’s with the colorful personalities of Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky. The other centers on a man who had lived with Rivera, and who afterwards led a reclusive existence in small-town America and battled with the House Un-American Activities Committee. This is Kingsolver’s first novel in nine years and it won the Orange Prize for Fiction last year. This British prize recognizes female fiction writers around the world. If you look on the Internet you can find a wonderful reading list of past winners and books shortlisted for this prize.


November 20, 2011 – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks – Based on an actual event in 1665-1666, Brooks recreates a year in the life of a remote British village decimated by the bubonic plague. When the plague arrives in the community, the vicar announces it as a scourge sent by God; obeying his command, the villagers voluntarily seal themselves off from the rest of the world. As deaths mount, grief and superstition evoke mob violence against "witches," and cults of self-flagellation and devil worship. The book will give us much to discuss about the relationship between religion and ethical behavior.


January 15, 2012 – Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Starting with the birth of twin boys to a nursing nun in a small hospital in Ethiopia, this brilliant novel follows the life of the boys as they are separated, become doctors, and eventually meet. The author, a doctor, weaves the practice of medicine into the book and reviewers comment that you won’t be able to put it down.


February 19, 2012 – The January issue of The Walrus magazine – Here’s your opportunity to read this excellent Canadian general interest magazine which publishes articles on Canadian and international affairs, along with fiction and poetry by Canadian writers. It was launched in 2003 as an attempt to create a Canadian equivalent to American magazines such as Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly or The New Yorker. The magazine is committed to publishing the best work by the best writers from Canada and elsewhere on a wide range of topics for readers who are curious about the world. The magazine founder, David Berlin, chose the title because the walrus is a Canadian native, is curmudgeonly but clever, bulky but agile, and no one ignores a walrus.


March 18, 2012 – The Secret River by Kate Grenville - An Australian bestseller this is an eye-opening tale of the settlement of New South Wales by a population of exiled British criminals. A delicate coexistence with the native population dissolves into violence, and Grenville presents the settler–aboriginal conflict with equanimity and understanding.


April 15, 2012 – The Uncommon Reader AND The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett - The Uncommon Reader is a very funny novella in which Queen Elizabeth II wanders into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and comes to know an avid reader who educates her in the joys of reading. In The Clothes They Stood Up In the staid Ransomes return from the opera to find their Regent’s Park flat stripped bare--right down to the toiletpaper roll. Free of all their earthly belongings, the couple faces a perplexing question: Who are they without the things they’ve spent a lifetime accumulating? Suddenly a world of unlimited, frightening possibility opens up before them. Some have called this a near perfect little book.


May 27, 2012 – Little Bee by Chris Cleave - Cleave's skillful writing slowly, but relentlessly brings us to the central event of this book – a horrible thing that happened on a beach in Nigeria. We learn about a 4-year old boy who thinks he's Batman, his mother Sarah, his anguished father, and Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee. Little Bee's plight overlays a rich and disturbing subtext of broader issues such as the unfathomable abyss between first and third world countries, the dark politics of oil, and the labyrinthine plight of refugees.




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