It is July – What will we be reading this month?

It is time to put some titles and authors up. Suggestions are open. Today is Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Please get your suggestion placed in the comments section below by Sunday, July 7, 2013.

Lynne Claridge has offered:

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

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Will look into this Leslie. Have to do it tonight after I get kiddies down.
Love and hugs,
shelly

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Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons

I have to say that at first I was not totally thrilled about the idea of this book even more so when reading the synopsis of it prior to buying it. I thought it was going to be one of those that was totally out of my usual reading genre and I was right on that score.

I dithered about starting the book when it first arrived and left it on the side for a while but then found myself without a book to read. It did draw me in from the off but only in a “well at least it is readable” manner! I couldn’t get past the idea that it is a very formulaic book and wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the author probably went on a “how to write a novel” course.

There was an older, widowed woman -Kari; a woman with a huge secret in her life – Faith; an abused woman – Merit; an extrovert – Audrey and a woman who wasn’t happy unless she was protesting or campaigning against some perceived wrong – Slip. The only thing missing from the line up was a lesbian!! This was rectified by introducing a couple of gay men and the constant allusion to Faith’s son possibly being homosexual.

The story covered the women over a period of 40 years which was, in my opinion, too long a time frame to fit into a novel of 512 pages and didn’t put enough flesh on the bones of the characters to bring them to life. There wasn’t enough time to develop depth of character for the women and their husbands and children were very much cameo characters except for Merit’s husband who was an abuser. Even here the author used an over used cliché by excusing his abusive nature with the reason that it was because he had been abused by his father and had seen his mother being abused by his father too. Sorry but there is no excuse possible for a wife or child beater!

All these women were depicted as intelligent and observant, so how come they didn’t pick up on the fact that Faith rarely mentioned her background? With Audrey being portrayed as being outspoken she would have ferreted out Faith’s “terrible dark secret” long before the end of the book! I think the only ‘true to life’ character was Merit who managed to conceal the fact of her beatings from the others but again truly observant people, and especially women, would have picked up on her behaviour and reactions to her husband. The children of these women all played together and sooner or later one or other of Merit’s daughters would have given the game away to the other children who would have made some remark to their parents.

I felt that the end of the novel was another let down – the author used too many statistics in her novel. Two out of every five get divorced; one out of every five suffer from cancer and so on. So which character to choose to have cancer? Lorna Landvik (author) chose Slip, wonder how she made that choice?

Audrey becoming a Minister??? Is that truly credible? I could, perhaps, believe her becoming a counsellor but not a minister.

The only part of this book that at first engendered any feeling and that of envy was the overall friendship that the women had and I did envy tha until I realised I do, in fact, have many friends. Sadly they are not all within reach for me to call and invite for coffee but nonetheless good friends and ones I would not be without 🙂

I keep my books and read them over and over again but I have already found this book a new home. I wouldn’t read it again and nor could I recommend it. Quite often I become quite engrossed in the books I read and empathise very much with the characters to the extent that I can laugh out loud at some antic and cry at sad parts but the only time I became upset with this novel was when the death of Kari’s dog was described!!

Apologies for such negativity regarding this book!

Leslie suggests we propose another book – so I put forward Nevil Shute’s ‘A Town Like Alice’ which is a classic but still widely available.

Lynn x

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Do you want to be a Contributing Author on this book club blog?

Don’t want to create a new blog?  Don’t want to muddy the waters of your current blog?  Don’t have a blog but would love to be able to share your thoughts and views on the books we are reading?  Want to take an active role in suggesting a book to read and being the “Host” for your book choice?

Now is your chance to play an active role in this book club blog.  I just figured out how to have up to 10 people be “Contributing Authors” of this blog.  It is by invitation only and I have to get the WordPress application to acknowledge you as the “Invitee”.

Your acceptance as a Contributing Author does not mean that you have to do a daily posting to this blog.

We need to get some rules and guidelines set up for this book club.  Some of the rules and guidelines will be:

  1. Setting a time frame to get the current book and begin reading.  Some books have to be ordered from an online source and are not readily available causing a delay of up to two weeks.
  2. Setting a time frame for the complete reading of the book.
  3. Creating the discussion questions or your thoughts about the current book you would, personally, like to discuss.
  4. Setting a time frame for the book to be finished and discussion comments to be completed and posted.

Accepting the invitation to become a Contributing Author will allow you to:

  1. Be the Host for the book you have chosen for us to read.
  2. Set the time frames listed above.
  3. Choose to have readers submit their comments and discussion answers via email directly to you whereby you can cut and paste these responses to a blog post you will be the acting Host of.  The posting of the blog can be delayed for a predetermined time while you assemble the comments and post all at one time.  Stragglers can be dealt with in a later posting.

Leave a comment in this blog – or at the Facebook Group site – letting me know you want to take part in this offering.

How do you create and post your contribution?  I have to say I HAVE NO CLUE.  I have sent invitations to Lynn Claridge, Shelly Makowski, and Maureen Mathis who, along with me, are the active club members at this time.  I will have more information on this process as I hear from some or all of these people.  They will have to do the “Heavy Lifting” here to see how it all works.  Then the information can be passed on to anyone wishing to take part in this.

I suspect your contribution will be sent to me via email or a notification from WordPress and I will be the one responsible for getting your information posted to this blog.  We’ll see how this works.

How adventurous do you feel?  Are you ready to get involved in this book club?

Hope you join us.

Leslie

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Time to have your say about “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons”.

Well folks, the first book in our book club has been read.  Thank you for joining us. This is the first time I’ve been involved in a book club of any kind.  What goes on in the discussion part of a book club I am unsure of, so I am going to wing it here.

I didn’t think I would like the book when I first began reading it.  The title was intriguing – “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons“.  Since I was the one to elect this as the first book to be read I decided to get in and get it read.  I found that I was drawn in by the characters and liked the pace of the book.  The story line was good.  I did find I was losing interest in the book in the last part.  All the children of the families were grown and on their own.  The women had sorted through all their life’s struggles by that time and the book began to flag for me.  I would have liked to have had the main characters continue on their journey together without the, seemingly, abrupt way the tale was ending – in the hospital with the looming death of Slip.

I know for my own life there is still a lot of richness in living now that I am nearly 60 years old (next year) and our children are grown and gone.  Maybe it is my job of being and over the road truck driver that keeps things interesting for me.

Since I don’t know how this type of thing is done I have decided to do a character synopsis of each woman.  Hopefully those that have not read the book will be intrigued enough to check it out from a library, purchase it online or from a local book seller, or listen to the audio version.  I have changed this post several times over the last three days.  Try as I might I find this difficult to figure out what would be the discussion points necessary for a “normal” type of book club.

Lynn, you finished this book a couple weeks ago and it may be a foggy memory just now.  I have a few prompting questions to begin jogging your memory.  This goes for anyone else who wishes to participate in the discussion of this book.

This book is about five women living on the same street in a Minnesota town who become friends through a book club they create.  Their friendship spans over 30 years.  This book takes you through the aging of their children, a couple of divorces, grandchildren being born, and the the ups and downs of each of the families through this book.  These women learn about themselves and each other through the books they read and discuss on a monthly basis.

FAITH:

I could relate to this character.  The childhood neglect and being sent to live with her grandmother, the only stability she knew for a while, and the upsetting intervals of her mother’s reappearance into her life that always ended the same.  Alcoholism is destructive.  Not only to the alcoholic themselves but to the family members that depend on the parent for nurturing and growth.

Faith does get herself together to finish high school and go on to college.  She meets Wade, an airline pilot, and they marry and have two children.  Wade’s job takes them from the comfort of Texas to the harsh winters of Minnesota.  Faith keeps to herself in her new home.  That is until a big winter snowstorm causes the power to go out.  The neighborhood women on the street where she lives bring her out of her house by way of a snowball fight.  That is the night Faith meets these women and becomes friends with them.  An idea of a book club is spawned from that meeting and these women become Faith’s “family” as well as friends.

There is one problem in Faith’s life.  She has told so many lies about her own family and where she comes from.  These lies take on a life of their own when it is time for Bonnie, her daughter, to present a family history as a class assignment.  Faith’s husband, Wade, doesn’t even know the truth about Faith.

Throughout this book Faith writes letters to  her long dead mother.  The letters tell of her frustration with her alcoholic mother and the many disappointments she suffered while growing up.  The letters continue on over the years until Faith finally comes to terms with her mother’s sad life and the different path Faith takes to ensure she does not cause the same harm to befall her own children.

I flip flopped in my feelings for Faith.  That is until she came to Merit’s aid.  Merit’s husband was physically abusing her.  The neighborhood women ran into Merit’s home but it was Faith who showed up with a gun (although an unloaded gun) to back that smarmy man away from Merit.  I really liked the way Faith took charge of that situation and brought Merit to her home and safety.

I had trouble dealing with the nasty side of Faith when she found herself mired in all of her lies.  Her children, Bonnie and Beau, were away at college at this time.  Faith takes a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana to spend some time with her son, Beau, and to meet the love of  his life.  Faith is confronted with the fact that Beau has always been different from the other boys as he grew up.  Although she tried everything she knew to “make a man of him” it is Beau that comes to terms with who he is and hopes his mother will love him still.

It is this trip that saves Faith.  Accompanied by Audrey, Faith takes a journey home to Mississippi and her grandmother’s house where she lived off an on.  Faith relives the night of her mother’s car accident and death which allows Faith to finally break free of her lies and face the truth of who she truly is.  With the help of her friends Faith is ready to let go of the lies and embrace the truth, thereby embracing her mother and moving on with her life.

MERIT:

Raised under the iron fist of a pastor father, Merit grows up to be everything she thinks others want her to be.  A woman of such great beauty she has been told she has the face of an angel.  Merit is married to a doctor, Eric, who is a real piece of work.  Verbally abusive in the beginning, and the abuse escalates over the years until she can no longer hide the fact.  It is at one of the neighborhood Labor Day Circus productions that Merit is finally saved from the monster by her book club friends and Faith.

Eric does not stop Merit from joining the book club but he does let her know that he has concerns.  Mainly that she will become someone he can no longer control.  The monthly gatherings of the book club open Merit’s world to be embraced by strong women and the bond that grows from it.

Through little acts of defiance Merit begins her bid for freedom by hiding bits of trash in her hair.  Eric demands that Merit wear her hair in a French Roll as his mother always did.  Hidden within the roll are pieces of paper Merit writes messages to Eric he will never see.  A partially eaten teething cookie left over from one of her infant daughters is hidden in her hair.  Used Q-Tips find themselves rolled up in the bun.  The reason is a secret of Merit’s, a secret defiance.

Three girls are born to Merit and Eric.  Reni, Melody, and Jewel.  The last was supposed to be “His Boy”.  That sends Eric over the edge in his abuse which has the final result of a gun pointed at him and orders to release Merit from his abusing hands.

Merit is another of the women that I can relate to.  The strength she gains after her divorce from Eric is felt in the words of the book.  Her three little girls get all the love lavished on them by their mother to make up for the neglect and hurt they suffer from their father.

One of the finer moments of the book (in my opinion) is when the women go to California to stay at a home owned by Audrey’s family.  The women have their book club meeting in a biker bar.  The bar maid, all tattooed and hard looking, has a heart as rich as any of the women of AHEB.  She shares her book reading with the women and they discuss several of the books that have been read.

A large and scary looking man clad in black leathers and sporting a long beard comes to the table to ask Merit to dance with him.  The two of them gracefully work the dance floor for several numbers and Merit is returned safe and unharmed to her friends.  The tenderness and respect she received from this biker is a touching message.

Some time later, Merit is seen at the local library playing the piano in a sound proofed room.  Merit plays so well a regular visitor to the library suggests she play at a local piano bar.  With a bit of coaxing Merit begins her journey of self growth and confidence at her weekly piano bar gigs.  The man at the library, Mr. Paradise, will soon be the man that will heal all of Merit’s heart breaks and help her to finally stand up to her ex-husband, Eric.

Mr. Paradise and Merit marry, with the blessings of her three daughters.  Another girl, Portia, is born of this marriage which is the total delight of Mr. Paradise.  Merit does find her happiness in the end.

SLIP:

Marjorie McMahon goes by many nicknames in this book.  Slip is the main one because she is a “bitty slip of a thing”.  Although she is tiny in stature Slip is a dynamo when it comes to activism.  She is always on the look out to protest something, and not in a quiet show.  She and her husband, Jerry, have two children.  A daughter, Flannery, and a son, Gil.

At one of the Norwegian Festivals showcasing the folk music and lore of Minnesota Norwegian heritage Slip and a group of like minded friends take over the stage to demonstrate their protest of the Kent State shootings.  Slip is against the Vietnam War and does everything she can think of to stop her brother, Fred, from signing up and going into the Military.

Slip is up for any type of protest.  From the tree house in her back yard, accompanied by Audrey and Faith, Slip flashes her bare chest at the neighborhood “Do Gooder” always found in color coordinated outfits and accessories.  Leslie Trottman is the local fund raiser for Heart Fund, Cancer Fund, UNICEF, and other worthy causes.

Slip is the one woman in the story that always seems to be active and healthy.  As the book progresses we learn of a cancer that Slip battles successfully…for a while.  The beginning of the book and the end of the book is taken up by the hospital vigil held by Faith, Audrey, Kari, and Merit as they watch over their friend and do their best to keep her company through her failing fight with the second diagnosis of cancer.

KARI:

Kari is the older of the group of women.  Kari has lost her beloved husband at the beginning of the book and is brought round in the story to be loved by the AHEB women.  Kari and her husband, Bjorn, had tried to have children.  She had a couple of miscarriages which caused her much heartache.  A failed adoption was one more heartbreak for Kari to bear before she loses her Bjorn.  Kari became the doting and loving Aunt to her siblings children.

One of Kari’s nieces, Mary Jo, goes away to college in California.  An urgent call to fly out to California at Mary Jo’s insistence brings Kari her most fervent wish and a problem at the same time.  Mary Jo has given birth to a baby girl of mixed race, Julia, but does not wish to raise the child.  Kari is given the option to adopt her niece’s child and raise Julia as her own….under one condition.  Kari’s brother, Anders, is to never find out that Julia is his grandchild.

Kari finds that motherhood is her bliss.  She adores Julia and is the best mother she could possibly be.  Using her sewing talents to outfit Julia in the best of clothing, and make some of the neighborhood children’s Halloween costumes.  Kari is also the best brownie baker ever and her delightful desserts are a standard at all the book club meetings.

At Anders’ funeral Kari, along with Mary Jo, tell Julia who is now old enough to go off to college, who her mother is.  Julia runs off and doesn’t speak to Kari for several years.  They do get back together and the heartaches are healed.

AUDREY:

Audrey is a woman who dresses to showcase her buxom and slender body.  Audrey is a sensual woman.  This comes across by her physical appearance and her penchant for couching remarks and statements in sexual innuendos.  Audrey and her husband, Paul, have three boys.  Michael, David, and Bryan.

One of Audrey’s book choices in the 1970’s was “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask” accompanied by a marijuana joint to ease the women into discussing the finer points of the marital bed.

Audrey is the more daring and brash of the books characters.  Being comfortable with herself and who she is allows her the be her best as a friend to each of the women.  Audrey is gifted with a kind of psychic power she keeps to herself and does not share with the others.  One event changes that and brings her gift into the open, much to the discomfort of the others.  Kari and Audrey’s babies are sleeping upstairs while the two women chat.  A vision of Audrey’s baby being choked by the blanket covering him sends her upstairs just in time to save him from certain death.  As the other women learn of Audrey’s gift their feelings are a mixture of fear and discomfort.

Audrey is the first to welcome the new homeowners that moved into the block.  A couple of men living openly in a relationship.  Grant and Audrey become friends and confidants.  Each giving to the other what they need emotionally.  Audrey and Paul are the first couple to divorce within this group of friends.  Audrey later helps Merit to get through her divorce from Eric.

Through her “second sight” ability Audrey knows she will be needed close when Faith goes to New Orleans to be with her son, Beau.  It is Audrey who helps Faith come to terms and acceptance of Beau’s choice in life partners being another man and not the woman Faith had hoped for.  It was also Audrey who accompanied Faith on her journey, literally and emotionally, through the highways of Louisiana and Mississippi to the streets of the small town Faith grew up in.  It was Audrey who supported Faith as she told her family and the other women about the life she had concocted out of lies and finally give them the real truth of who she is and where she came from.

Audrey is a fun and loving woman.  Through her personal journey in this book she finds her life’s calling to be a minister and a counselor.  Each of the women go into the business and the work world as their children age and are no longer in need of constant parenting.  Audrey’s chosen profession was a total surprise to me.

—————————–

I have no experience of having girl friends so I could not relate to the camaraderie of these women and their spats.  The fight between Slip and Audrey that lasts for quite a few months was unsettling for me.  The “catty” way that Slip treated Audrey during the spat was, in my opinion, beneath Slip and she should have been a better person than what she was.  I can’t watch the reality TV shows of “Housewives of (too many places)”.  These women are condescending, rude, mean, and selfish – in my opinion – and are old enough to know better than to behave like teenage school girls.

I do have the experience to relate to Faith’s childhood neglect and Merit’s being abused by her husband.  That part of the book was a little too close to home for me.  However, I did like the outcome of the two women as they grew emotionally and gained confidence to make better lives for themselves.

Would I read this book again?  No.

Would I recommend this book to anyone else to read?  I’m not quite sure.

Having grown up during the 1960’s through the 1990’s as depicted in this book I did find much of the content familiar.  Growing up in Colorado and not the Midwest I found the morals of these women to be pretty much consistent with my experience of the time.  Everyone was coping with the changes of morality.  Going from a time when women stayed home to raise their children and the housewife or Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) was not a term of derision.  The 1960’s and the “Hippie Generation” began to make its way across America changing the fabric of “sex” in our society, from a taboo to in your face and sexual freedom.

The 1970’s brought about the “Women’s Movement” when the SAHM was taking heat for not fulfilling their duty by contributing to the household income and the growth of the women by working away from home.  It was also a time of turmoil with the war in Vietnam.  The men that were drafted into the war came home to taunts of being “Baby Killers” and worse.  The American public was ugly during those years.

The 1980’s and 1990’s had some pretty good music.  Computers came to be common and technology advanced to such a degree that our lives were all changed by the computer and our way of communicating in the social world.

This book was enjoyable, for me, in that it was a look back into a time when life was just a bit slower and there were well defined roles of men and women.  Children and families socialized with their neighbors.  In today’s society it is not common for the children to be out playing in the neighborhood streets.  There are way too many “bogey men” lurking committing crimes and unspeakable harm is befalling our children.

Sorry, got on a tangent there.

Shelly, I have been thrilled with your comments on this book.  I’m so very glad that this book helped you to enjoy the fond memories of your life long friend and the antics you two got in.  I am also happy that your personal life has come around by reading this book and being a part of this group.

So, to end this extremely long post.  I would like to have anyone participating in this book club to leave a link to your blog in the comment section of this post.  Make sure to put “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” in the title of your blog post.  Tell us what you liked about the book.  Which characters you liked and which you did not like.  Tell us if you would recommend this book to anyone else and also if you would be reading this book again, and again.

Also, in your blog post PLEASE MAKE A BOOK SUGGESTION FOR THE NEXT BOOK TO READ.  I will create a blog post with a Poll listing the book suggestions and the next book will be selected by the one that gets the most votes.

Thank you all for joining us.  I look forward to reading what you have to say about “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons”.

Leslie

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I feel a sin coming on, or even two.

For those that have not started reading the book I will try not to give so much away, but hopefully tease you enough to get your butts in gear and get started reading.

Don’t let the title of this book fool you. This book is not about women who are in unhappy marriages, thereby being “Angry Housewives”.

This is the first sin I must confess to. Envy.

I want to live on a street with my friends nearby. Have a backyard circus where our kids are the main event showing their talents the last summer weekend each year. Get together with my friends once a month, as a “Girl’s Night” to discuss a book we have all read. Kids in the basement playing while we enjoy a cocktail or coffee. Not to mention a plate of brownies.

My other sin I need to confess is the desire for murder. Shoot that rotten bugger!

I didn’t think I would like this book when I first started reading it. What is there to like about a bunch of housewives? Plenty!

This author has, for me, made me care about these women and their lives. The fight between two of them that lasts several months. Wondering how the rift will end and being thrilled by it.

I’m a little more than half way through the book and have to confess another sin. Greed.

I am finding that I guard the bits of time I have to read and want more. The evening hour or two I get to read is guarded rigorously. The desire to find snippets of time to read more is almost like jealously guarding a pile of coins with thoughts of stealing more and more until I have them all.

Will you just get the book and start reading already?!

I am impatient to find out what you think of this book and the “Angry Housewives”.

Leslie

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Who has started reading Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons?

I’ve read the first 100 pages of the book. I have a few questions for you that are reading along.

    Have you moved somewhere that has a totally different climate than what you are used to? Faith is from Texas where the winters are mild. She has moved to Minnesota where the winters are severe. Do you remember what your first, truly, miserable season was like? What thoughts do you have about Faith’s mother-in-law?

    What are your thoughts about Merit’s parents? What are your thoughts about Merit’s husband? Have you encountered anyone similar to Merit’s father? Does his autocratic attitude seem hippocratic hypocritical to you?

    What are your thoughts about Audrey? Do you think her “sexual innuendos” are funny or troublesome? What would your reaction be upon seeing your neighbor sunbathing half nude then find them at your door saying you were caught in the act of “peeping”?

    What are your thoughts about Slip? Are you passionate about your beliefs? Would you be as upset as Slip was after learning of the tragic deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Junior, and Bobby Kennedy – or three current day political or religious leaders?

    What are your thoughts on Kari? Can you sympathize with her not being able to have children while the rest of the group are quite fertile? How supportive would you be if a friend or family member adopted a biracial baby?

I’m trying to see who has the book already. How long do you anticipate it will be before you get the book and begin reading? Is a goal of 100 pages a week too many for you to read?

If you have started reading this book, do you like it so far? Why do you like it?

Do you find this book difficult to read? Not your “cup of tea” and you hate it? Why do you dislike it?

Looking forward to what you have to say.

Leslie

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