This is a must-see!
The movie poster is great. And, Focus Features just revealed the official movie trailer.
It looks awesome!
Here is some of the cast -- Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Judi Dench and Jamie Bell.
Releases in March 11, 2011.
High Fashion Reading Group Pick. Is it a purse or a book?
Kate Spade has showcased three books in a clutch -- The Great Gatsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Great Expectations by
Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Fashion She Says includes a fashion photography display of The Great Gatsby.
How cool is that?
One reading group will chat with him on December 3rd at 5pm Pacific time, to discuss his latest novel Beatrice and Virgil, which USA Today has hailed as “dark and divine…a masterpiece.”
If you and your club are interested, have a computer with a video camera and the capability to use Skype, please e-mail Random House at email@example.com with your name, location, and number of group members, and we’ll randomly select one lucky club.
The Poetry Book Society of the U.K. has just launched a new reading group program based on the shortlist for the 2010 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry. They are hoping to persuade fiction reading groups to try poetry, using the work of the poets shortlisted for the Prize.
Reading groups can download three poems from each book, together with reading group notes on the poems, a biography and photo of each poet from The Poetry Book Society website. The website will also offer readers the opportunity to vote for their favourite poet online and to take part in discussion of the shortlist. The result of the reading groups’ vote will be announced on January 24, 2011.
The poets might not be familar to you but give it a try. Maybe pick one from the list and one American poet for National Poetry Month in April.
There are many ways to start the reading group discussion. Is there a difference between British poetry as oppose to American poetry? Is it the different cultures? Don't be afraid of poetry.
Author on the Bookcase
I'm excited to welcome Jill Cantor, author of The Transformation of Things, to On the Bookcase. Jillian has crafted a truly fantastic novel about a complicated life made even more complicated. Jennifer Levenworth's husband, a judge, is indicted on bribery charges and her "friends" aren't that supportive. Then the dreams begin. When Jennifer sleeps, she swears she can see—and hear—her friends' and family's most private moments though her dreams. Jennifer realizes she is actually learning the truth about their lives, which is also leading her to question everything she thought she knew about herself.
Jillian writes the story of a woman who, in glimpsing the intimate lives of her loved ones, is able to illuminate the half-truths in her own and transform her life.
Jillian asks her characters and her readers, "[Is the] grass truly greener somewhere else? Are we ever really, truly 100% happy with where we are in life and the choices we make?
What is your answer to your own question, Jillian?
People always ask me if I base my characters on myself or my own life. My short answer is no, because I write fiction, and my characters are not autobiographical. But I guess the longer answer is that even though my characters are fiction, they are in some ways rooted in my own life and my own experiences.
When I first started writing The Transformation of Things, I had two very young children who I stayed home with. Though I’d quit my job as a writing professor after my oldest was born, I was still teaching community college classes, part-time online. I struggled to fit some fiction writing in, in between nursing the baby, chasing after a toddler, watching endless episodes of The Wiggles, and grading some pretty dreadful freshman English papers. I wrote at night after the kids went to bed, or in the few short minutes I got in the afternoon if both kids happened to be simultaneously napping, or on weekend mornings when my husband was home. Like most other new moms, I was exhausted. All the time. It was often a struggle to think hard enough to get coherent words on the page.
I began the book with the idea for a woman whose husband has been indicted and is then ostracized by her friends. This idea came to me after a conversation with a friend of my own, who told me that she’d recently met the wife of a politician who’d been kicked out of office for doing something illegal. Her comment was that the woman was very nice, but she imagined it must be hard for other people to get past what her husband had done. And Jen sprung from there. I imagined what it would be like to feel ostracized from your friends and family, and I also imagined how this situation might affect a marriage – how it might make it worse, and also, better.
In a way, it wasn’t such a stretch to imagine that isolation. Though Jen and I are really nothing alike, and my husband (or our relationship) is nothing at all like Will, as a stay-at-home mom with a baby and a three-year-old, I did often feel a bit isolated. I spent most of my time at home with minimal adult conversation. As much as I really truly loved being able to have that crucial time with my kids, sometimes I thought about the other people in my life and wondered what things were really like for them: my sister (still single), or my best friend (who’d just gotten married and hadn’t had kids yet), or another friend (whose babies were similar ages to mine but had chosen to put her kids in daycare and had gone right back to work instead of staying home). Was the grass truly greener somewhere else? Are we ever really, truly 100% happy with where we are in life and the choices we make?
Thus, the inspiration for the women characters in The Transformation of Things, none of whom are me, or my friends, but all of whom have pieces of what I was thinking and feeling at that point in my life. There is the main character, Jen, who is struggling with isolation, not only from her friends, but also from herself and her marriage. There’s her sister, Kelly, who Jen thinks is the perfect stay-at-home mom and wife and a photographer -- only, maybe she’s not really all that perfect. There’s her friend, Kat, a woman who has all but abandoned her children for her career, and her friend, Lisa, who has all but abandoned her career for her children. Are any of them really, truly happy?
And then, maybe because I couldn’t do so in my own life but sometimes wished I could, I gave Jen the ability to be able to glimpse beneath the surface of the lives around her, to see that what’s on the outside of a life isn’t always what’s on the inside of a life. It became an interesting journey for Jen. And for me.
Eventually, my kids got a little bit older, I finished the book, and I came to realize that the grass really isn’t greener; sometimes it only appears that way from a distance. Maybe I didn’t get to glimpse beneath the surface of my friends’ lives like Jen did, but in writing about it, in a way, I almost felt like I did.
Thanks, Jillian, for chatting with us and writing a story that brings up a topic that, I think, everyone ponders at least once in their life.
Reading Group Alert! Betrayal, secrets, marital upheaval, friendship, personal discovery, love -- great discussion topics!
Praise for The Transformation of Things
“A provocative novel that raises fascinating questions about marriage and how to find our way back when love falters. Thoroughly original, highly engaging, and wonderfully tender.”
—Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses
Jillian Cantor's first novel, The September Sisters, was called "memorable" and "startlingly real" by Publishers Weekly and was nominated as a YALSA Best Book For Young Adults. Her second young adult novel, The Life of Glass, was released in February 2010. Jillian lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
Check out Jillian's website, as well.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Grab your current read, open to a random page, share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
Share the title & author, too,
I have to cite one paragraph instead of the standard two sentences. The last sentence is so good and so true!
"I probably coughed self-pityingly in response, little aware that I was about to cross a tremendous threshold through which there would be no return; that in my hands I held an object whose simple appearance belied its profound power. All true readers have a book, a moment, like the one I describe, and when Mum offered me the much-read library copy mine was upon me. For although I didn't know it then, after falling deep inside the world of Mud Man, real life was never going to be able to compete with fiction again. I've been grateful to Miss Perry ever since, for when she handed that novel over the counter and urged my harried mother to pass it on to me, she either confused me with a much older child or else she'd glimpsed deep inside my soul and percieved a hole that needed filling. I've always chiosen to believe the latter. After all, it's the librarian's sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader." -- p.31 ARC of The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, (November 2010)
I'm half-way through this book. So far, I loving it.
What are you reading? What book held profound power for you?
This meme is hosted by Sheila from One Person's Journey Through a World in Books.
I'm reading three books this week.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (November 2010, Doubleday)
Publisher's summary: The incomparable author of such classics as The Great Santini and Beach Music, celebrates the books that have changed his life. Pat shares stories about the books that he views as the most important influences on his life as a boy, a man, and as one of America’s most gifted writers.
Atlanta Magazine praises My Reading Life as “his most personal and introspective offering yet…you are in the hands of a master craftsman who happens to be a great storyteller.”
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (November 2010, Atria Books)
Publisher's summary: A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn't been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in 'the distant hours' of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.
Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian, March 2011, Scribner)
Publisher's summary: Set in San Francisco during the first year of Obama's presidency, Three Stages of Amazement deftly charts the struggles and triumphs of Lena Rusch and her husband Charlie Pepper, still believe they can have it all--sex, love, marriage, children, career, brilliance.
Fifteen years after her stunning debut, Rise the Euphrates, Carol Edgarian has created a panoramic and deeply moving story about business and family and the demands of love in our time. She takes readers on a spellbinding journey inside America today, with an unforgettable cast of characters including Cal Rusch, Lena's uncle, a Silicon Valley titan, and Ivy, his socialite wife, who engender complication in the lives of all the people they touch: their grown children, business partners, friends, the servants and workers upon whom the glamorous life depends--and Lena, whose quest for grace is the pulse of this gorgeous novel.
As Lena and Charlie, Ivy and Cal, face the temptations of their youth and the fantasy of the redo, they discover that real life is the ultimate challenge.
Told with eloquence and compassion, Three Stages of Amazement is a true thriller of the heart, a riveting story about confronting adversity, gaining wisdom, and finding great love.
All of these titles would create great conversations for reading groups.
What are you reading?
National Book Awards Finalists
Author Pat Conroy announced the twenty Finalists for the 2010 National Book Award on Wedneday. The list includes a previous National Book Award Winner, two previous Finalists, thirteen women--the largest number of women Finalists in a single year in the Awards' history--and six books from small, independent presses.
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
Nicole Krauss, Great House
Lionel Shriver, So Much for That
Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel
Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq
Patti Smith, Just Kids
Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward
Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War
Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City Terrance Hayes, Lighthead
James Richardson, By the Numbers
C.D. Wright, One with Others
Monica Youn, Ignatz
Young People's Literature
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird
Laura McNeal, Dark Water
Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown
Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer
The winners will be announced on November 17th.
Have you read any one of these? Will you read them now because they are finalists? Will you wait and only read the winners? What about the poetry collections?
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson has won the Man Booker Prize beating out the favorite, C by Tom McCarthy.
Sir Andrew Motion, Chair of the judges, made the announcement. Motion comments, "The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize."
From everthing I've read, The Finkler Question is a great reading group choice. Identity, ethnicity, justice, relationships are great conversation topics.
Publisher summary: Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they’ve never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. Now, both Libor and Sam are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor’s grand, central London apartment.
It’s a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove
themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had
fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized
anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life
without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn?
Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends’ losses.
And it’s that very evening, at exactly 11:30, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change.
Congratulations, Mr Jacobson!
Will you read it?
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read, Open to a random page, share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page, and share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Whatever prize I brought out of the woods, my mother could match with a book from the library. She read so many books that she was famous among the librarians in every town she entered. Since she did not attend college, she looked to the librarians as her magic carpet into a serious intellectual life. Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom." -- p 3, ARC of My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, (Release Date: November, 2, 2010)
What are you reading this wonderful Tuesday?