Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Ladies' Book Club: August 2011

Book Read:
The Bolero of Andi Rowe by Toni Margarita plummer

Ladies in Attendance:
5 members

Treats shared:
Ice Cream Pie (oh my!), 5 cheese plate with bread (yum!), Chocolate Chip cookies, Wine and Lemonade.

To Read or Not to Read:
5 ladies read it, 1 did not. 1 lady not in attendance read it.

My Reaction:
This was an unique choice because first, it was a book of short stories and second, the author was a friend of one of our members. This made the discussion even more interesting, knowing a little more about the author and the inspiration behind it all.

I did not read it in time for the book club meeting but I did read parts of it afterwards. I am not normally a fan of short stories. I'm more of a meaty novel kind of gal. But I appreciate the skilled writing of an author who can pack a punch in a story so short. Plummer certainly did that with these stories. She captured the voice of the characters and the community. It reminded me of The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse, a novel I loved from last year.

Here is a description from Amazon:
Largely set in Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley, this prize-winning collection of interlinked stories centers on the Rowe family. Olivia Real, originally from Mexico, marries Charles Rowe in the 1970s. They have two daughters: Andi takes after her mother, Maura is blonde, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned. Olivia and Charles get divorced a few years later, but Olivia, whose parents died when she was a child, continues to have a special relationship with her Irish-born mother-in-law.

Plummer’s characters share a keen sense of the loss that comes from distance both figurative and literal. In “Happy Hour,” Olivia grapples with her mother-in-law’s death, and in “To Visit the Cemetery,” she visits her parents’ grave in Mexico City, where she seeks reconciliation with her sister, who has remained in their native land. Andi, an architecture student in New York, struggles to connect to the friends and neighbors she’s left behind, including her best friend, a Filipina bent on finding love in the club scene, and Andi’s almost-sweetheart, a musician doctor-to-be torn between affections. When distances are closed between characters, the emotion and passion is explosive and honest.

Plummer has written an evocative, sometimes surprisingly sexy collection that, when taken as a whole, shows an incredibly rich picture of a place and a way of life. The Bolero of Andi Rowe marks the arrival of a truly original voice in Latina fiction.

Ladies' Reaction:
My post is a tad late due to a hectic month and unfortunately, I lost the notes that I took from this club meeting. The only reactions I have are from one of our ladies who could not attend but did read it. I do remember that everyone that did read it that came to the meet up enjoyed it and good discussion was had. Here are the exact words from the lady I did not misplace:

I really liked this book. I LOVE collections of short stories and often times find myself reading those more than actual novels. So this book was kind of like the best of both worlds; short stories that all inter-link. I found that the characters were pretty well developed, considering she is still a newer author. I also enjoyed the main, underlying theme of the whole book. It seemed like everyone was looking for love, of some sort, but not all the same kind of love. Olivia seemed to be trying to fill the void of losing her parents by keeping her relationship with her mother-in-law even after she and Charles divorced. Inez, seems to associate relationships with sex, and is "looking for love in all the wrong places"; something almost all women can relate to at one time or another. And Andi, who more or less seems to just wants to be able to balance her life, in more ways than one. School and home, her two very cultural backgrounds. And that's just scratching the surface. All in all I found this a pretty quick and enjoyable read!

Good Book Club Pick?
Yes. I think it was a different choice for us but the personal connection to one of our members made it interesting to read and discuss. I am a fan of discovering new authors and a book club setting is the perfect place for that.

Author Website:
Here is a You Tube video of the author reading from her work.
Toni Margarita Plummer

Next Book Up:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Carol said...

I am not a fan of short stories usually. I find I just get into the story and it ends!

Thanks for sharing the book club meeting with us again.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Cool cool. Sounds like a good time.

Gina said...

Hmm, not certain it's a choice for me, but I always love hearing about your reading group romps...even if someone did misplace the notes (ahem). ^_^ Glad to hear they enjoyed it! Short stories are a world unto themselves. Happy reading!