Daytime & Evening Book Group
The Book Group will now meet on the fourth Monday of the month with time and place as shown in the Directory and on this website. These have been rearranged this year to better meet the interests and needs of the participants. Because of Covid, however, it may be necessary to rearrange yet again. Please watch for emails and the “Upcoming Events” section of this website’s Home page for the most current information.
September 26, 2022 – The Maid by Nita Prose – PCCF at 4:00 pm
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • “A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center” (Real Simple), this cozy whodunit introduces a one-of-a-kind heroine who will steal your heart.
“The reader comes to understand Molly’s worldview, and to sympathize with her longing to be accepted—a quest that gives The Maid real emotional heft.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Think Clue. Think page-turner.”—Glamour
In development as a major motion picture produced by and starring Florence Pugh
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception; one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late.
A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.
October 24, 2022 – Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell – PCCF at 4:00 pm
“Again and again. . . I find myself being a Mrs. Bridge evangelist, telling them that it’s a perfect novel, and then pressing copies on them. . . What writing! Economical, piquant, beautiful, true.” —Meg Wolitzer,
The New York Times: In Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, a consummate storyteller, artfully crafts a portrait using the finest of details in everyday events and confrontations. The novel is comprised of vignettes, images, fragments of conversations, events—all building powerfully toward the completed group portrait of a family, closely knit on the surface but deeply divided by loneliness, boredom, misunderstandings, isolation, sexual longing, and terminal isolation. In this special fiftieth anniversary edition, we are reminded once again why Mrs. Bridge has been hailed by readers and critics alike as one of the greatest novels in American literature.
November 9, 2022 – Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – PCCF at 5:30 pm (Sister to Sister)
Set in the Native American Ojibwe Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 18-year-old Daunis Fountaine is biracial, the child of a scandal, who never quite fits in with her Indian family nor her Caucasian family. Her life is messy and becomes very tumultuous when her best friend is killed and Daunis gets trapped into the investigation of not one but two murders. Daunis is a courageous, strong woman committed to stopping the destruction of her beloved community.
In this thrilling and dynamic story, Boulley tells a tale that is suspenseful, insightful and emotionally complex.
January 23, 2023 – – Diana of the Dunes by Janet Zenke Edwards – ZOOM at 6:30 pm
In the fall of 1915, Alice Gray traded her life in Chicago for a solitary journey in the remote sand hills of northwest Indiana along Lake Michigan. Living in a fisherman’s shack, she measured herself against nature rather than society’s rigid conventions. Her audacity so bewitched reporters and a curious public that she became a legend in her own time–she became “Diana of the Dunes.” Nearly a century later, the story is still a popular folktale, but questions remain. Who was Alice Gray? Why did this Phi Beta Kappa scholar leave Chicago? What happened to her soul mate, Paul Wilson? In this first-ever book about Diana of the Dunes, the mystery of Alice Gray is revealed by those who knew her and through new research. Excerpts from her dunes diary are published here for the first time since 1918. In these pages, rediscover the legend of Diana of the Dunes…and learn the truth.
February 27, 2023 – Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard – ZOOM at 6:30 pm
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery
One of the Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Books of the Year • One of the Best Books of the Year: TIME, The Washington Post
Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.
In this, her first book, now available in paperback, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. And Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world.
March 27, 2023 – Matrix by Lauren Groff – ZOOM at 6:30 pm
WINNER OF THE 2022 JOYCE CAROL OATES PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION, one of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2021, named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, NPR, The Financial Times, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Vulture, Marie Claire, Vox, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today
It’s an unconventional piece of historical fiction because of its feminist theme of the power women could hold even in the Middle Ages.
Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.
At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?
April 24, 2023 – Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie – The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli – PCCF at 4:00 pm
In the years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women in the workplace still found themselves relegated to secretarial positions or locked out of jobs entirely. This was especially true in the news business, where female job applicants were told that newsrooms “already had a woman,” were hired as researchers, or, if they were lucky, might have gotten a foothold on the “women’s pages.” But when National Public Radio came along in the 1970s, and the door to serious journalism opened a crack, four remarkable women emerged and blew it off the hinges. Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie is a captivating account of how Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg, and Cokie Roberts blazed a trail, forged deep and enduring friendships, and became icons.
May 22, 2023 – The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizabeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life by Amy Butch Greenfield – PCCF at 4:00 pm
An inspiring true story, perfect for fans of Hidden Figures, about an American woman who pioneered codebreaking in WWI and WWII but was only recently recognized for her extraordinary contributions.
A YALSA EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION FINALIST • A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
Elizebeth Smith Friedman had a rare talent for spotting patterns and solving puzzles. These skills led her to become one of the top cryptanalysts in America during both World War I and World War II. She originally came to code breaking through her love for Shakespeare when she was hired by an eccentric millionaire to prove that Shakespeare’s plays had secret messages in them. Within a year, she had learned so much about code breaking that she was a star in the making. She went on to play a major role decoding messages during WWI and WWII and also for the Coast Guard’s war against smugglers. Elizebeth and her husband, William, became the top code-breaking team in the US, and she did it all at a time when most women weren’t welcome in the workforce.
Amy Butler Greenfield is an award-winning historian and novelist who aims to shed light on this female pioneer of the STEM community.
June 26, 2023 – The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson – PCCF at 4:00 pm
The Seed Keeper follows a Dakota family’s struggle to preserve their way of life and their sacrifices to protect what matters most. Rosalie Iron Wing grew up in the woods learning about the plants, stars and origin stories of the Dakota people. A life changing event for Rosalie is her entry into foster care and follows her subsequent life as a mother, widow and two decades on her white husband’s farm before returning to her childhood home. It covers topics of racism, alcohol/drug abuse, children’s welfare, residential schools, abuse and mental health. It weaves together the voices of four indelible women to tell a story of reawakening our original relationship to the seeds, and through them, to our ancestors. While it is about the legacy of Dakota women it is also about white settlers and the ways that Western ideas and farming tactics have impacted rivers, soil and the lives of animals and people. This is a story that everyone will be able to relate to.
July 24, 2023 – Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict – PCCF at 4:00 pm
The USA Today Bestseller
From the bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room comes a mesmerizing tale of historical fiction that asks what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty.
Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the woman who shares her name has vanished, and assuming her identity just might get Clara some money to send back home. Clara must rely on resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for and an uncanny understanding of business, attributes that quickly gain her Carnegie’s trust. But she still can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future―and her family’s. With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie’s Maid is a book of fascinating 19th century historical fiction. Discover the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist to the world’s first true philanthropist.
Has reader’s guide and conversation with the author. Believe our local Valparaiso library was a Carnegie Library.
August 28, 2023 – West with Giraffes: a Novel by Lynda Rutledge – PCCF at 4:00 pm
An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.
“Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes…”
Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.
It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.
Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.