I have your summer travel plans all mapped out. Check out this site to learn about how we too can cruise from Paris to Nice, sampling French wine along the way! Alternatively, there are a variety of lodging establishments to choose from in Sanary-sur-Mer (coastal town between Marseilles and Nice). Jean Perdu certainly painted a picture I could dive into!
But first, and more locally, please join us this Wednesday as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Bring your questions, brings your thoughts. Suggested discussion questions are below to get you started. (I will ask the question in bold to start us off.) Also, please bring any question you have been mulling over since our last meetings.
Some questions that others are still pondering include:
1. Was the protagonist (Herb) in "The Christmas Dance" black or white?
2. What would you put in the Museum of Civilization? (Station Eleven)
3. How does Jean Perdu's (The Little Paris Bookshop) grief journey compare to Sherman Alexie's?
4. Given we are surrounded by incredible diversity in Cambridge, why is it that the same white women are the ones volunteering over and over again in our public schools?
5. Why is Boston winter -- and January in particular -- so hard? (okay, this is irrelevant to our book choices but certainly relevant to life)
Also, we will attempt to serve the 13 Desserts, as described in the back of the book, substituting Oprah's Pomegranate Martinis for their Ratafia. (I understand Oprah has absolutely nothing to do with French wine...but what else am I to do with this unopened bottle of sparkling pomegranate juice from Trader Joe's?)
Drop a line and let us know if we can expect you!
1. What do you make of the idea of a literary apothecary?
2. Is there a book you read over and over at some point in your life that gave you comfort?
3. What would you choose to read from Jean's apothecary?
4. Where would you jet off to on a get away or journey right now? What question would you seek to answer? What person would you seek?
5. 21 years? Really?
6. Why make Jean Perdu a father figure to Max Jordan?
7. What do you make of P.D. Olson's character and his comments on American racism? (p.150: "A nation that has less than a thousand years of culture to look back on, no myths, no superstition, no collective memories, values or sense of shame; nothing but pseudo-Christian warrior morals, deviant wheat, an amoral arms lobby, and rampant sexist racism...")
8. What do we value in books? What do you make of Jean's perspective: p.164 "He calls books freedoms. And homes too. They preserve all the good words that we so seldom use...Leniency. Kindness. Contradiction. Forbearance."
9. How can she justify having two lovers? What does her conscience say? (p.171: "I can feel the burning shame in my cheeks; I can feel the longing in my knees; and the lie nestles between my shoulder blades and scrapes them sore. Dear Mamapapa, please, don't make me have to choose between them.")
10. What kind of man (Luc) agrees to an open marriage? (p.162: "This is the only life we have. I want to spend mine with you, but without impeding yours.")
11. What to make of the tango?
12. Do we carry our past loves "within us..." to "make us whole" or should we purge them to be free from their burden and distraction? (p.226-7)
13. What do you make of Jean's dad's response of what it means to become a father? How would you answer to becoming a mother? (p.228-9: "Having a child is like casting off your own childhood forever. It's as if it's only then that you really grasp what it means to be a man. You're scared too that all your weaknesses will be laid base, because fatherhood demands more than you can give.... I always felt I had to earn your love, because I loved you so, so much.")
14. Cuisery -- a real place for booklovers? From a French tourism website: "In the Burgundian Bresse, Cuisery will thrill literature enthusiasts. Here, the book is king: the village is home to several bookshops, craft workshops, a dedicated market, etc. And enjoy the historic heritage of this city founded in the Middle Ages and head of an 11th century royal "châtellerie". From the top of the hill where the village stands, admire the view over the Bresse plain."
15. How does Jean Perdu's grief journey compare to Sherman Alexie's?
16. When did Jean find out about Manon's death and when did he hide the death announcement in Proust? (p.221-2)
17. From p.287: "If you were to describe one event that made you who you are, what would it be?"
18. What do you make of Jean's list of things that make you really happy? What would you add? (p.323: "One. eat well...Two: sleep through the night...Three: spend time with people who are friendly and seek to understand you in their own particular way...Four: have more sex")
19. Was Manon afraid to make herself happy? Why are we afraid? What stands in the way? (p.346: "She said that she was so ashamed, and it was her just deserts for loving twice in one lifetime. My God! As if love were a crime...Why did she have to be so hard on herself? Why?")
Thank you for joining us last night for discussion of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. While perhaps not our favorite, it was fun to hear about other titles and authors you have enjoyed!
What would happen if women suddenly had electrostatic powers? Join us next month as we discuss The Power by Naomi Alderman.
If you want to read ahead, for April we will be reading Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. I think this will be our first biography!
Cheers and happy reading!
The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.