Book choice for February 2012

One Hundred Years of Solitude [suggested by Helen Close]

front cover

One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles, through the course of a century, life in Macondo and the lives of six Buendia generations-from Jose Arcadio and Ursula, through their son, Colonel Aureliano Buendia (who commands numerous revolutions and fathers eighteen additional Aurelianos), through three additional Jose Arcadios, through Remedios the Beauty and Renata Remedios, to the final Aureliano, child of an incestuous union. As babies are born and the world's "great inventions" are introduced into Macondo, the village grows and becomes more and more subject to the workings of the outside world, to its politics and progress, and to history itself. And the Buendias and their fellow Macondons advance in years, experience, and wealth . . . until madness, corruption, and death enter their homes. From the gypsies who visit Macondo during its earliest years to the gringos who build the banana plantation, from the "enormous Spanish galleon" discovered far from the sea to the arrival of the railroad, electricity, and the telephone, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel weaves a magical tapestry of the everyday and the fantastic, the humdrum and the miraculous, life and death, tragedy and comedy--a tapestry in which the noble, the ridiculous, the beautiful, and the tawdry all contribute to an astounding vision of human life and death, a full measure of humankind's inescapable potential and reality. [from readinggroupguides.com]

Wikipedia entry.

About the Author

Author's Wikipedia page.

 

Shortlisted for this month

Book selectors can bring one, two or three books for selection, although it's usual to bring three. This month Helen's selections were:

The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair

Set in London during and just after World War II, Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is a pathos-laden examination of a three-way collision between love of self, love of another and love of God. The affair in question involves Maurice Bendrix, a solipsistic novelist, and a dutifully married woman, Sarah Miles. The lovers meet at a party thrown by Sarah's dreary civil-servant husband, and proceed to liberate each other from boredom and routine unhappiness. Reflecting on the ebullient beginnings of their romance, Bendrix recalls: "There was never any question in those days of who wanted whom--we were together in desire". Indeed, the affair goes on unchecked for several years until, during an afternoon tryst, Bendrix goes downstairs to look for intruders in his basement and a bomb falls on the building. Sarah rushes down to find him lying under a fallen door, and immediately makes a deal with God, whom she has never particularly cared for:

"I love him and I'll do anything if you'll make him alive... I'll give him up forever, only let him be alive with a chance... People can love each other without seeing each other, can't they, they love You all their lives without seeing You".

Bendrix, as evidenced by his ability to tell the story, is not dead, merely unconscious, and so Sarah must keep her promise. She breaks off the relationship without giving a reason, leaving Bendrix mystified and angry. The only explanation he can think of is that she's left him for another man. It isn't until years later, when he hires a private detective to ascertain the truth, that he learns of her impassioned vow. Sarah herself comes to understand her move through a strange rationalisation. Writing to God in her journal, she says:

"You willed our separation, but he [Bendrix] willed it too. He worked for it with his anger and his jealousy, and he worked for it with his love. For he gave me so much love, and I gave him so much love that soon there wasn't anything left, when we'd finished, but You".

It's as though the pull toward faith were inevitable, if incomprehensible--perhaps as punishment for her sin of adultery. In her final years, Sarah's faith only deepens, even as she remains haunted by the bombing and the power of her own attraction to God. Set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged city, The End of the Affair is equally haunting as it lays forth the question of what constitutes love in troubling, unequivocal terms. [Melanie Rehak - writing on Amazon]

Wikipedia page.
IMDb entry of the film version.

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
(Many other Internet resources are available)

Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?
Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood's work has been suggested many times for the club. The most recent "About the Author" section can be found on the page for June 2011.

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

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