It seems that I’m putting off doing these write-ups until just before the next meeting. I’m going to have to shape up!
A very lively and satisfying get-together centred around our April book, The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien. Our discussion leader was Randy, and he presented a number of questions for us to consider, in the areas of heartbreak, convent life, moulding of character, and resemblance to the life of the author. The book is beautifully written, and Randy also asked us if we considered O’Brien to be a top-ranking author, which made for some interesting discussion. The consensus seemed to be that she is, in our opinion, high-ranking, but not at the very top of her field.
We also talked about the spiritual, cultural, and literary aspects of the book, and really gave it a thorough going-over. Members also chimed in with their personal connections, mostly from school and from our experience of working or volunteering side by side with sisters from various religious orders.
We will be moving on to our May meeting on the 8th, when the book under examination will be Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden. Dolores has volunteered to lead our discussion.
In today’s gospel we heard the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here is an excerpt from Newman that takes a look at what can happen in this life if we in the First World take our fortunate lifestyle too much for granted:
A smooth and easy life, an uninterrupted enjoyment of the goods of Providence, full meals, soft raiment, well-furnished homes, the pleasures of sense, the feeling of security, the consciousness of wealth–these, and the like, if we are not careful, choke up all the avenues of the soul, through which the light and breath of heaven might come.
The excerpt is from John Henry Cardinal Newman: In My Own Words.
Check out my blog where I talk about my journey along with our book for the month at A Son of Saint Philip.
I’ve now put together a list of books that have been suggested by members at previous meetings. Please check it over and let me know of any I may have left out. I checked through my old notes from meetings, but it’s quite possible that I may have missed some suggestions, and I’d like the page to be as complete as possible.
When we have our list together, a friend of the book club will help me format the page so that we can have links to book publishers and Amazon.com so that we can easily access descriptions and reviews. This should make it easier for us to decide what book we’d like to read next. And of course, if you come across other books you would like to recommend, I can add them as well.
Everyone admitted that he or she had not done at all well in reading the Paradiso. Several remarked that reading it had felt like too much work; we agreed that it probably hadn’t been a good idea to read all three sections of The Divine Comedy in succession. Since most of us feel that we would like to finish the reading (just not right now), it was decided that we may return to the book later in the year. We previewed the Newman book, our next selection, and decided to read the first seven chapters before the October meeting. We’re looking forward to Newman’s beatification and hoping to see some of the sites associated with his life on the TV coverage of the event.
We have spent the summer reading the Inferno and Purgatorio of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. As you can see on our “Current Book” page, we are in the midst of the Paradiso. It has been interesting to see through the eyes of a man from the 14th century, particularly his classification of vices and virtues. His familiarity with the constellations and knowledge of mythology and ancient history seem vast (thus the need for the notes). We’ve been amused by all the people from Tuscany, many of whom he seems to know, who turn up in Hell and in Purgatory, seemingly way out of proportion to Earth’s population. And we’ve enjoyed his vivid language and swift pace.