(the bookshot – note the silks, with which you could tie someone up)
Greetings, faithful readers, and welcome to what might be a one-off and might be a recurring new feature on the site: recaps from my BookClub. As careful readers may’ve discerned, I have a small group now well into its third year (and just past its 20th book) that votes on a book and then we get together somewhere hopefully thematically appropriate for food and drink and discussion. And every once in a while, we don’t vote but rather have something offered to us – like this time!
The wonderful Alaina Waagner at William Morrow, in celebration of the book’s forthcoming film adaptation, hooked us up with copies of the book and tickets to the film so that we could do a compare/contrast sort of thing – and shake up our usually somewhat more serious choices in books. And shake it up, this book did.
Five of the six of us gathered (with the sixth incoming from DC, arriving fashionably and perfectly late) at Grey Dog in Chelsea last night and looked cautiously around the table at one another. It’s always a question of whose opinion is going to break the ice – and then Chris, our resident jazzman, stunned all of us by saying that he really liked it. And then the girls and I chimed in with our agreement: we all* really enjoyed the book. This being a rare thing indeed, we waited to see what Jake (our delayed member) would say… and, delightfully, he didn’t like it. Conversation began in earnest.
We talked about how there were several moments throughout the course of the book that pulled us out a little bit – Sarah noted that Henry’s quick switch from jealous to happy acceptance was a little rushed, I kept struggling with Eleanor’s role in the whole thing – but the five ‘yea’ votes found that we were able to gloss over these things because of the writing, the simplicity of the storytelling, and that sense of a guilty pleasure/quick read that drove all of us through the book in the space of about a day. We all agreed that the choice to tell the story through the kid’s perspective made the book more interesting than the story might’ve been otherwise – a kid’s interpretation of events as opposed to ‘what really happened’, making it all a bit heightened – and Kaitlin & Carly very much appreciated the seriousness with which the adults were handled, specifically Frank’s introspection and Adele’s struggle with depression.
And then things got a little silly. Not surprisingly, we all started talking about sex – because this book, like a 13 year old’s mind, is loaded with it. I’d describe our laughter as raucous as we talked about the chili scene and the pie scene (the next pottery-scene-from-Ghost? here’s hoping) and a surprisingly intense discussion about whether Adrien Brody or Josh Brolin make for a sexier convict. Kate Winslet’s enduring beauty was also discussed, as were everyone’s feelings about… well… suffice it to say that we all felt like gossipy housewives, but in the best possible way. And for those of you who know us, me trying to spoon-feed Carly is a hilarious thought.
It’s always nice when you have a difference of opinion in the group (we’ve all felt ‘meh’ about a book before and that’s the worst – having at least two strong opinions in opposition makes for some of the best discussion) and last night’s conversation, frothy and unserious as it was, made for a memorable evening. And none of us could begrudge this book delivering for its particular audience – even if none of us considered ourselves a part of it. We’re all looking forward to the movie, too – a recap of which will also appear here in the coming weeks. (And if you’re intrigued by what else our group has read, check out the BookClub tag down there below this post.)