Not everyone got through this book in time for our book club meeting, and the book’s length wasn’t the only reason. Discussion revealed a range of reactions to this multi-layered tale. Many enjoyed the richly evocative writing and the historical setting of the story. A couple of readers found the book positively dripping with strained metaphors and similes. The science fiction tale was the least successful thread of the book for most of us.
None of the characters was terribly popular, but Laura’s concrete thinking made her charming to one reader with an affection for kids who have different ways of learning and seeing things. Readers drew a range of different conclusions about which of the sisters were visiting Alex in his rooms.
Atwood captures well the friction and affection between siblings. Her portrait of a father and his family coping with the pain of losing his factory in the face of the Great Depression is poignant. But the same father that is driven to drink and despair at the loss of all of those factory jobs shows stunning insensitivity to his daughter when he arranges her engagement to a business partner, in an inept attempt to save the business.
The most animated discussion came at the end of the meeting, when people tossed around recommendations for other books they liked better than this month’s book club selection:
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl
The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
The Art of in Racing the Rain, Garth Stein
Scribbling the Cat, Alexandra Fuller