November 20, 2014 – Notes

 In attendance:

Liz Clarke, Vivian Krone, Janice Loschiavo, Lois Pagnozzi, Meta Pitrelli, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi.

Absent: Cathy Quinn, Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl, Joan Swensen.

Book & Author: The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham

With the sparkling Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, the reduced winter group met in Vivian’s lovely, warm apartment to discuss the 76th book. Barbara offered a toast to Cathy, who is facing medical issues. Everyone was enthusiastic about the book and agreed it was a good choice that would spark lively debate.

Questions and Comments regarding The Razor’s Edge:

  • Naturally, there were a lot of comments about Larry. Lois loved him and noted that Suzanne had to try not to fall in love with him. Janice recalled the passage when Isabel was excited just looking at Larry’s arm. (Janice claimed that Isabel had an extreme reaction – ask her about it.) Vivian noted that Larry wanted to save Isabel. Liz pointed out that Larry was emotionally detached, a cool number. Barbara felt that Larry’s position was one of “nolo me tangere”, keeping people at a distance. Sharon underscored that Larry felt the relationship with Sophie would be good for her, not necessarily good for him. Marilyn noted that Larry never went around trying to force his views on people; he offered his spiritual vision only when asked.
  • Barbara commented that Maugham is a good observer and records actions that tell us a lot about the characters. He writes as if he is a reporter.
  • Gray is the loving parent, while Isabel mothers out of a sense of duty.
  • Tina thought Isabel is a good example of someone who very much wants something that will not make her happy.
  • The group liked Isabel’s mother and thought she handled Larry well. She also had a philosophical attitude toward aging.
  • All agreed that Elliott was a good uncle. Lois asked, “What would have happened with Isabel and Gray if Elliott hadn’t rescued them?”
  • Isabel wanted to explore the tawdry side of life, but just a bit, before returning to her safe, conventional life.
  • Was Isabel responsible for Sophie’s death? Marilyn felt she was responsible since she put the alcohol in front of her.
  • Meta noted that it’s difficult for children to hold onto their parents’ values because of societal and cultural pressures on them.
  • Barbara asked if there exist things or people in our lives that have the power to change us. Several members shared their stories of turning points in their lives.
  • There was some discussion of religion, spirituality and Larry’s belief system.
  • Barbara suggested the short story Rain by Maugham.
  • What is enlightenment? Vivian noted that some people seem so confident they don’t need enlightenment.
  • What does the quote containing the title mean?
  • There were many lines from the book that were highlighted. (Due to the difference in pagination between hard copies of the book and electronic versions, it is difficult to give exact pages.)
  • The author claims that the book is a success story because at the end, everyone gets what he or she wants. Is this the case?

Happy birthday was sung to Tina and Cathy (in absentia), who share the same birthday. Liz’s cream cheese icing cake was once again a popular choice. The group also enjoyed candy from Janice and chocolate-covered strawberries, courtesy of Marilyn. However, after Vivian’s delicious dinner, it was difficult to eat anything more.

The book was awarded a 4.0 rating.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 7, 5:00 p.m., at Janice’s house. The book will be The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene. January was to be Cathy’s choice; she gave the decision over to Barbara who suggested this book as a follow-up to The Razor’s Edge. Tina will choose the February book.

There will be no December meeting. Beginning in January, we will revert to meeting on the first Wednesday of each month.

February 4 at Barbara’s house.

March 4 at Lois’s house.

April 1 at Liz’s’ house.

May 6 at Tina’s house.

June 3 – location TBD.

Submitted by Tina Segali

November 25, 2014