The Braun Library Book Club
Sunday, January 5th, 10:00 a.m.
The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks
With more than two million copies of her novels sold, New York Times bestselling author Geraldine Brooks has achieved both popular and critical acclaim. Now, Brooks takes on one of literature’s richest and most enigmatic figures: a man who shimmers between history and legend. Peeling away the myth to bring David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage.
The Secret Chord provides new context for some of the best-known episodes of David’s life while also focusing on others, even more remarkable and emotionally intense, that have been neglected. We see David through the eyes of those who love him or fear him—from the prophet Natan, voice of his conscience, to his wives Mikhal, Avigail, and Batsheva, and finally to Solomon, the late-born son who redeems his Lear-like old age. Brooks has an uncanny ability to hear and transform characters from history, and this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal, and power will enthrall her many fans.
The “bookies” will meet in the Braun Library.
Plan ahead, on February 9th, we will discuss:
The Muralist: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Art Forger comes a thrilling new novel of art, history, love, and politics that traces the life and mysterious disappearance of a brilliant young artist on the eve of World War II.
Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940 amid personal and political turmoil. No one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind recently found works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?
Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of today’s New York art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism.
B.A. Shapiro is a master at telling a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizée and Danielle she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask, What happens when luminous talent collides with inexorable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world? And to what lengths should a person go to thwart evil?
What We’ve Read in the Past
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
Naamah by Sarah Blake
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev
A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel
I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits
Mr. Mani by Abraham B. Yehoshua,
Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
The Chosen by Chaim Potok, paired with a Braun Library film series showing of the movie based on the book
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
Einstein and the Rabbi by Naomi Levy
The Best Place on Earth, a collection of short stories by Ayelet Tsabari
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
The September 3rd, 2018 issue of the New York Times magazine included an interview with David Peplow, a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University in England who has done multiyear ethnographies of book groups.
The article reports that when he asked people why they joined a book club, many said — unsurprisingly — that they wanted to talk about books. But, the article continued, “when he read through transcripts from dozens of hours of recorded group meetings, it became clear that they were grappling to understand themselves more deeply. “Reading and talking about fiction gives people a way of processing things that happened in their lives in a relatively safe space.” Peplow says.
Click here for the full article.
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