March 9, 2016 – Notes

In attendance: Liz Clarke, Janice Loschiavo, Cathy Quinn, Lois Pagnozzi, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi.

Absent: Vivian Krone, Meta Pitrelli, Joan Swensen

Emeritus: Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl.

Book & Author: My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout.

Barbara arrived with an armful of mauve-colored roses, which delighted the group. The gentlemen guests respectfully remained out of earshot. Tina made the promised chicken along with vegetables; all enjoyed the soda bread brought by Lois. Somehow amidst all the eating, we managed another lively discussion.

Questions and notes regarding My Name is Lucy Barton:

  • The overall reaction to the novel was positive, though Cathy mentioned the fatigue of reading about sad people with sad lives.
  • Sharon pointed out that Lucy had managed to escape her dreary past, had done well in school, and had become a writer.
  • Marilyn was disappointed that Lucy didn’t help out her siblings.
  • Barbara asked what had happened to Lucy to make her so remote. In addition to being treated badly by her family, she also had little exposure to educational outlets.
  • Lois remarked that she was reminded of Elena in the Italian book, who also had little educational encouragement.
  • The group agreed that education opens the door and exposes us to the wider world. However, despite Lucy’s education, her past still affected her in large ways.
  • The issue of Lucy having left her children arose, reminding the group of the protagonist in Loving Frank. Most felt that they could understand falling in love with someone you’re not married to but leaving your children behind was more difficult to comprehend. There remained the question of why Lucy would leave them.
  • Marilyn noted that Lucy loved anyone who was kind to her, such as the doctor in the hospital. Sharon remarked that the doctor also could have served as a father figure for Lucy.
  • Lucy’s parents were difficult. Though her mother came to her in the hospital, she left abruptly. She never spoke of her own childhood. The father had humiliated the brother and his mistreatment of Lucy had sexual overtones. The family was clearly dysfunctional.
  • Are the decisions you make in life determined by your childhood? Are you afraid to open a new door or close an old one? Are there feelings, thoughts, that don’t need to be voiced? Or should we communicate more openly?
  • What did Sarah Payne mean when she told Lucy to be ruthless in her writing? Write the truth. Be courageous with your story.
  • What did Lucy’s daughters think about their life with their mother?
  • Barbara asked all to tell about a person who had a brief but powerful impact on their lives. The responses were brilliant. (You’ll have to ask them to tell you!)

The book earned a 2.75 rating (after the usual discussion about the arbitrary nature of our rating system). The group continued talking about the book after the birthday cake for Liz and Sharon’s sublime chocolate cake.

Though the 100th book will be read in January, the group decided to hold the BIG ONE in October when all the members will be in attendance. We calculated that it would be Barbara’s turn to choose the 100th book. She suggested One Hundred Years of Solitude as an appropriate choice, but there’s time for her to mull it over.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, April 6, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at Lois’s house in Creskill. Assignments include: Barbara, lottery tickets (we may actually win one month!); Sharon and Liz, dessert; Janice, fruit; Marilyn, salad; Tina, wine.

Next Book: Saving Sophie, by Ronald Balson, chosen by Janice. The April selection will be Vivian’s choice.

Submitted by Tina Segali

March 16, 2016