February 10, 2016 – Notes
In attendance: Liz Clarke, Janice Loschiavo, Cathy Quinn, Lois Pagnozzi, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali.
Absent: Vivian Krone, Meta Pitrelli, Marilyn Sinisi, Joan Swensen
Emeritus: Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl.
Book & Author: To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf.
Barbara’s fireplace provided a warm and welcoming refuge from the cold evening as we waited for everyone to arrive. The delivery of the Chinese food prompted us to move to the dining room table and begin our discussion. We were all impressed and delighted with the lovely tote bag gift from Barbara, which had a perfect lighthouse painted on it. Very special!
Questions and notes regarding To the Lighthouse:
- The overall reaction to the novel was that it was difficult to follow and hard to pick up again once put down. Some were tempted to skip passages that seemed tedious or overly descriptive.
- Barbara talked about the book Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, which offers a fictionalized account of the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister.
- What does the lighthouse symbolize? Hope, home, things that abide.
- What motivated Mrs. Ramsay to do all that she did for her family and the guests gathered in her home? Was it to be praised, or did it give her a satisfaction and inner happiness? “For her own self-satisfaction was it that she wished so instinctively to help, to give, that people might say of her: ‘O Mrs Ramsay! dear Mrs Ramsay…Mrs Ramsay, of course!’ and need her and send for her and admire her?” (p. 48)
- Ramsay was always thinking about the passage of time and how perfectly innocent and wonderful childhood was. She always wanted to have a baby in the house. “And, touching his hair with her lips, she thought, he will never be so happy again, but stopped herself, remembering how it angered her husband that she should say that. Still, it was true. They were happier now than they would ever be again.” (p. 68)
- No matter how beautiful and giving Mrs. Ramsay was, with her husband she exhibited passive/aggressive behavior. She would do anything for him but she wouldn’t give him the emotional assurance he so desperately wanted. “He wanted something-wanted the thing that she always found it so difficult to give him; wanted her to tell him that she loved him. And that, no, she could not do.” (p. 143)
- Ramsay was happy with the children though not necessarily as happy with the marriage. This didn’t prevent her from believing that marriage was the desired outcome for every person nor from trying to get unmarried men and women together. She wanted Paul and Minta to marry and they did, but ten years later he was cheating on her.
- All in the group remarked on how surprising that the deaths were revealed in parentheses. The author wrote on and on about the characters’ detailed thoughts but limited such momentous events to a sentence.
- Who truly mourned Mrs. Ramsay? The children? Mr. Ramsay?
- When we think about our lives, we look for important milestones and events to reveal to us what it’s all about. “What is the meaning of life? That was all-a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were daily little miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” (p. 186) All were encouraged to share their “daily little miracles.”
- Ramsay created scenes that would be conducive to the making of memories, almost as if it were a canvas, much as Lily created her painting. “Mrs Ramsay bringing them together; Mrs Ramsay saying ‘Life stand still here’; Mrs Ramsay making of the moment something permanent (as in another sphere Lily herself tried to make of the moment something permanent)-this was of the nature of a revelation.” (p. 186)
The book earned a 3.0 rating. After looking at a list of all the books we’ve read so far and their ratings, the group once again agreed that some of the ratings seem arbitrary and that it would be beneficial to have some sort of system upon which to judge the readings. Barbara suggested a movie night to see “The Hours,” which she thought might better elucidate the novel we just read.
After devouring an enormous quantity of Chinese food, the group managed to do a good job on dessert: fruit, fortune cookies, Sharon’s yummy jelly squares, chocolate covered pretzels and strawberries.
The group discussed possibilities for the 100th book celebration, which should occur with the January 2017 selection. We will continue to brainstorm.
Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 9, beginning at 5:00 p.m., at Tina’s house in Oradell. Sharon will bring dessert; Cathy, lottery tickets; Janice, bread. Tina was asked to make chicken.
Next Book: My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout, chosen by Liz. In Vivian’s absence, Janice will choose the book for April (but Vivian will choose immediately upon her return).
Submitted by Tina Segali
February 12, 2016