Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Club Guide- The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki

Looking for great book club suggestions, as well as discussion questions, author information, and what food to serve at your next book discussion? You've come to the right place! We will start posting these book discussion guides for you on the third Thursday of every month. If you have a title that you'd like to suggest we cover, leave it in the comments or email it to lpoppenhouse@lakeforestlibrary.org

This Month's Selection: The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki
A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America's most infamous act of treason . . . 
Everyone knows Benedict Arnold--the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British--as history's most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold's co-conspirator, Major John Andre, who was apprehended with Arnold's documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.

Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold's age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride's beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John Andre. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former love and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.

Told from the perspective of Peggy's maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress's affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor's Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom." 

What to Serve your Guests:


Hard Apple Cider: The most popular alcoholic drink in colonial times due to the abundance of apple trees. (21+ only)








Gazpacho: A colonial dish, this cold soup will be a nice light dish to serve your book club guests. Find a recipe here.





Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Dumplings: These delicious apple dumplings will be a great treat to serve your guests. Dumplings and puddings were very popular in colonial times. Find a recipe here.









Author Interviews:

Book Reviews for The Traitor's Wife:

Discussion Questions:
    1. Before moving to Philadelphia, Clara spent her entire life on a farm in the Pennsylvania countryside. How does Clara’s identity evolve throughout her years of service to Peggy and Benedict Arnold? What character traits does Clara retain? Discuss which characters have the greatest impact on Clara’s growth and development. 

    2. Why does Clara take a nearly instant dislike to Major John Andre? Why is she relieved when the Judge and Mrs. Shippen refuse to allow Peggy to attend the Meshianza? Compare the way Andre treats Peggy with how Caleb treats Clara. 

    3. Clara is flattered at “having so quickly become her lady’s confidante and friend” (page 119). Does Peggy sincerely consider Clara a friend, or is Clara misreading her mistress? Why does Clara so desperately crave Peggy’s approval, and even friendship? At what point does this begin to shift? 

    4. Discuss the theme of loyalty in the novel. What drives the different characters’ allegiances? Who is the most loyal character? 

    5. “I hate the man, and I always will,” says Peggy of Benedict Arnold (page 146). Why then does she begin pursuing him the first time they meet? Does she truly come to care about him, or is it all an act? 

    6. What is your view of Benedict Arnold? Trace his evolution from ardent patriot to turncoat. Do you think he would have committed treason without Peggy’s influence? Why or why not? Discuss both his and Peggy’s motivations for aiding the British. 

    7. “My husband knows how to win on the battlefield. It’s all brute strength and fighting. But spy work is different—it requires poise, and self-control, and grace. It’s like a delicate dance. And if anyone knows how to dance, it’s me,” says Peggy (page 326). Which traits make Peggy better suited for espionage than Arnold? Why does the couple freely discuss their plans in front of Clara? Is it because they trust her not to reveal their secrets or, as Clara believes, because they find her invisible? 

    8. When Arnold’s treachery is revealed, he immediately flees and leaves Peggy behind. Given the circumstances, are his actions justifiable in any way? Why doesn’t Peggy hold it against him? Share whether or not you were surprised that Peggy was able to so easily convince George Washington and his companions of her innocence. 

    9. Does Clara intentionally or unintentionally help the Arnolds commit treason by cracking Andre’s code and translating the clandestine correspondence? Does her role make Clara partly to blame? What would you have done if you were in her position? 

    10. At one point in the story, Clara laments that she is not the master of her own fate. How do she and Caleb take charge of their future, both individually and as a couple? Discuss Clara’s warring emotions of impotency and desperation to intervene in the Arnolds’ plot. 

    11. When Clara confides in Mrs. Quigley about the Arnolds’ plotting, why is the older woman so quick to dismiss her claims? When Mrs. Quigley later understands exactly what’s happening, why does she still advise against Clara and Caleb taking action to stop the Arnolds? Explore how Mrs. Quigley’s response to the news differs from Caleb’s response to the news. Does either of them understand Clara’s position and perspective? 

    12. Examine the character of George Washington. Why does the novel open on the morning of his visit? What does George Washington mean to Benedict Arnold? To Peggy Arnold? To the servants like Hannah, Caleb, Clara, or the Quigleys? Discuss whether George Washington’s disapproval was the impetus for Arnold to agree to treason. 

    13. How does Clara use tactics she learned from observing her mistress to achieve her freedom from Peggy? What gives Clara the strength and courage to stand up to the imposing Peggy? Would Clara actually have reported Peggy’s guilt, or was it a bluff? 

    14. When news comes that Arnold successfully escaped, why is Clara relieved he won’t hang for his crimes? Why does she promise to keep quiet about Peggy’s role in the plot? 

    15. In what ways did The Traitor’s Wife give you new insights into the Revolutionary War? What, if anything, did you learn that surprised you? 


Monday, June 20, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman has been extremely popular at Lake Forest Library since it's release in May of 2015. If you loved this book, check out some of these other books you may also like.
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


READ-ALIKES:

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.


And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. 






The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry By Rachel Joyce
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. 

So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband. 

Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart. The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?


The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
 
One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs.
 
Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison
With her husband Bernard two years in the grave, seventy-nine-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise only to discover through a series of revelations that she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. There, amid the buffets and lounge singers, between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.  

Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother/daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, forgiveness, and, ultimately, healing. 



There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme
A fiftyish graphic designer forced into retirement discovers, via a parade of unlikely events, that it may still be a lovely day in the neighborhood. Wallace Webster lives alone in Kemah, Texas at Forgetful Bay, a condo development where residents are passing away at an alarming rate. As he monitors events in the neighborhood, Wallace keeps in touch with his ex-wife, his grown daughter, a former coworker for whom he has much averted eyes, and a somewhat exotic resident with whom he commences an off-beat affair.

He sifts through the curious accidents that plague his neighbors, all the while reflecting on his past and shortening future. Required to reflect upon his own mortality, he wonders if "settling for" something less than he aspired to is a kind of cowardice, or just good sense.


 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Super Summertime Stories


Children’s chapter books evoking that good old summertime feeling and a sense of adventure:

Gr 4-7
   Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine.  For as long as he can remember, Adam and his parents have spent their summers at his grandmother's rustic cabin on Three Bird Lake.  But this year will be different. There will be no rowdy cousins running around tormenting Adam.  There will be no Uncle John or Aunt Jean.  And there will be no Dad to fight with Mom.  This year, the lake will belong just to Adam.  But then Adam meets Alice, the girl next door, who seems to want to become friends.  Alice looks just like the aloof, popular girls back home - what could he had she possibly have in common?  Turns out Alice isn't like the girls back home.  She's frank, funny, and eager for adventure.  And when Adam's Grandma starts to leave strange notes in his room - notes that hint at a hidden treasure somewhere at the lake and a love from long ago - Alice is the one person he can rely on to help solve the mysteries.   

Gr 4-7 
  Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff.  A companion to A Tangle of Knots, in which Cady, whose special Talent is knowing just what kind of cake to bake for someone, finds herself a family.  This time around, other children with magical Talents attend summer camp, where nothing is what it seems and they risk being robbed of their Talents.  

Gr 5-8
  Summerlost by Allie Condie. Popular YA author Condie has written a poignant novel for middle grades. Following the sudden deaths of her father and autistic younger brother, Cedar Lee spends the summer working at a Shakespearean theater festival, making a new friend, and coming to terms with her grief.

 
Gr 4-7
Forget-Me-Not Summer & Brightest Stars of Summer by Leila Howland.  When their parents, a screenwriter and a film editor, go off on summer projects, Marigold, twelve, Zinnia, eleven, and Lily, five, must visit their Great Aunt Sunny in Cape Cod, where they learn much about themselves and each other and grow closer than ever. 

Gr 3-7
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy. When Lana's and Cassie's grandparents marry each other, the girls find themselves stuck together on a crazy summer road trip that will change the course of their friendship and their lives. 
 Swallows and Amazons

 Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  Classic old fashioned adventure series set in England’s Lake District. Some very imaginative children spend a summer camping on an island. They sail on the lake and pretend they are in exotic parts of the world and, as a result, have many exciting adventures.


 Fort by Cynthia DeFelice
Gr 4-8
 The Fort by Cynthia DeFelice.  Summer adventure about two boys who build an awesome tree fort and tangle with two older bullies, pranking them, and ultimately proving who was responsible for an earlier act of arson.  


 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
Gr 5-8
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.  A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.

 3 Willows by Ann Brashares
Gr 6-8
 3 Willows by Ann Brashares. Another sisterhood, by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ama, Jo, and Polly, three close friends from Bethesda, Maryland, spend the summer before ninth grade learning about themselves, their families, and the changing nature of their friendship. 


 Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island
Gr 2-5
  Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy.  Summertime brings the Fletcher family back to Rock Island, where the good times never end, but this summer the boys' favorite lighthouse is all boarded up. With help from their new neighbors, the Gallindo girls, the boys are determined to find out what is really happening with their lighthouse and save it, no matter the cost.

 Button Hill by Michael Bradford
Gr 6-8
 Button Hill When Dekker and his little sister Riley are shipped off for the summer to their strange Aunt Primrose in Button Hill, they think they are in for a long, boring summer. But when they find an old grandfather clock with a skull face, they are transported to another place, where children have special powers and the dead come to life! 
 Summer at Forsaken Lake
Gr 3-7


Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael J. Beil.  Twelve-year-old Nicholas and his ten-year-old, twin sisters, Hetty and Haley, spend the summer with their Great-Uncle Nick at Forsaken Lake, where he and their new friend Charlie investigate the truth about an accident involving their families many years before.  






Gr 5-9
  Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick.  Emma, Jess, Megan, Becca, and Cassidy go to Camp Lovejoy in New Hampshire to serve as counselors and when some of the young campers are stricken with homesickness, the friends decide to start a summer camp book club.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: Eligible and Modern Day Jane Austen Works

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld has been very popular since it was released a couple of weeks ago. This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in Cincinnati, Ohio got us thinking about some of the other great modern takes on Jane Austen classics. Just click on a title to get to the catalog and place a hold on any of the books you are interested in.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice. This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Read-Alikes:

The summer after she graduates from university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury, where she will live with her health-conscious father until she is ready to launch her interior-design business and strike out on her own. In the meantime, she will do what she does best: offer guidance to those less wise than she is in the ways of the world. Happily, this summer brings many new faces to Highbury and into the sphere of Emma's not always perfectly felicitous council: Harriet Smith, a na├»ve teacher's assistant at the ESL school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard; Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma's former governess; and, of course, the perfect Jane Fairfax. This modern-day Emma is wise, witty, and totally enchanting, and will appeal equally to Alexander McCall Smith's multitude of fans and to the enormous community of wildly enthusiastic Austen aficionados.


Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could: lose 7 pounds, stop smoking, and develop Inner PoiseBridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.
Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you'll find yourself shouting, "Bridget Jones is me!" A modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. 


Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined. 

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?


In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. 


It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's PersuasionFor Darkness Shows the Starsis a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it