The Necklace

From Michelle Lauer-Bader
Author:  Cheryl  Jarvis
The Necklace
This is a fascinating story. The first question most people will ask is how can 13 women share anything? But it quickly becomes apparent that the necklace is only the means to get us to think about what do we really need and how can we make others happy. Most of us cannot afford a necklace like this, even if we share the cost.  But we can think about the rampant consumerism that exists in America and what we can do about it.  This would be a good book discussion selection.

The Grapes of Wrath

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Steinbeck, John
The grapes of wrath
The Grapes of Wrath should be read twice; once while in high school or college and again later in life, when hopefully experience has taught something.  Steinbeck wrote the story during the depression and its portrayal of poverty, migrant workers, and poor treatment of the laborer still holds true today. Some in my discussion group thought it was depressing. While it was hardly upbeat, I couldn’t get over how the themes of family above all and persistance resonated. This is a great story and a great discussion book.  Don’t miss the movie with Henry Fonda!

By nightfall

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Cunningham, Michael
By nightfall
By Nightfall takes place in NYC’s Soho. The all-right comfortable marriage of Peter and Rebecca Harris reaches a crisis when Rebecca’s much-younger brother Mizzy (Ethan) comes for a brief stay. Mizzy has a continuing drug problem and a “what will I do with my life” decision to make. When he comes to NYC to perhaps start over, Peter finds himself infatuated with his brother-in-law. The story moves along at a slow even pace until the end when Mizzy’s motives are revealed and Peter and Rebecca make a decision about their marriage.

Secret Daughter

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Gowda, Shilpi Somaya
Secret Daughter
This moving novel tells the story of Kavita in India who gives away her baby daughter in order to save her, and Somer in California who adopts her.  It is about two mothers who both love their daughter and what they learn about themselves. This story speaks of motherhood (and fatherhood) and the loss they all share. The writing is excellent, the characters are real. You won’t put it down.

Murder in Passy

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Black, Cara
titl: Murder in Passy
Aimee Leduc, private investigator, is on the scene when the woman friend of her mentor, Morbier, is murdered. When Morbier becomes the prime suspect it is up to Aimee to find the real killer.  Her investigation uncovers police corruption and a radical Basque terrorist group, the ETA. This mystery takes the reader through the wealthy Parisian neighborhood of Passy which adds richness and fun to the story.

Murder in the Palais Royal

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Black, Cara
Murder in the Palais Royal
Aimee Leduc, private investigator, finds herself under suspicion after her partner Rene is shot. Every time she uncovers information that she thinks will clear her, it seems to point even more in her direction. 

Even Rene thinks Aimee may have shot him. This series does a great job of providing Parisian flavor. Aimee is a fashionista (from the second hand shops) and that only adds to her charm. This is the second book I have read in the series and they only get better.

The widower’s tale

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Glass, Julia
The widower’s tale
Julia Glass’ characters come alive in The Widower’s Tale. Percy Darling, recently retired, finds his life disrupted when he allows a local preschool to take over his barn. Things becomes more complicated when Percy falls in love with a younger woman, his one daughter leaves her husband and children in New York City and his beloved grandson, Robert, unwittingly gets involved in an eco-terrorist group. This contemporary story has unforgettable characters and poses big questions about loyalties, rivalries and family secrets.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

From Michele Lauer-Bader
author: Wroblewski, David
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Edgar Sawtelle grows up in a family whose life is centered around  raising and training dogs. Edgar is born mute (this was never explained) and learns to sign to communicate with his parents and with  the dogs. While the book is long and moves very slowly I was totally  involved in the story and in Edgar’s life. I especially loved learning  about the dog training. All seems idyllic until Claude, Edgar’s uncle,  returns to the family and everything starts to fall apart. This is a  great book for discussion. The fact that it is modeled after Hamlet  adds another dimension to the discussion. A must read.

The Help

From Shelley Lauer-Bader
author: Stockett, Kathryn
The Help
This very readable account of the lives of the “colored” maids who took care of whites in the South around the time of the Civil Rights movement rings true. Character development is well done and while the dialect is difficult at first, it is just right for the story. While not of the caliber of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, it evokes the times and the gross inequality of the American system as it really was.

Shanghai Girls

From Shelley Lauer-Bader
author: See, Lisa
Shanghai Girls
This story of Shanghai during the Japanese invasion and immigration to the US has great period detail. May and Pearl escape China in 1937 and arrive in the United States, although not without great pain and suffering. They finally connect with the men they married through an arranged marriage. The Louie family could be the story of any family immigrating to the United States with the racism, poverty, family tension.

Especially pertinent is the focus on the “paper sons;” we would call them
illegal immigrants today.

Great for a book group discussion.