Enjoying the Classics (07/21/2021): The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham (cover)

The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells

Howells’ best-known work and a subtle classic of its time, The Rise of Silas Lapham is an elegant tale of Boston society and manners.

After garnering a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston in order to improve his social position. The consequences of this endeavor are both humorous and tragic as the greedy Silas brings his company to the brink of bankruptcy.

The novel focuses on important themes in the American literary tradition—the efficacy of self-help and determination, the ambiguous benefits of social and economic progress, and the continual contradiction between urban and pastoral values—and provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age.


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July 21st @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (06/16/2021): Erewhon

Erewhon (cover)

Erewhon by Samuel Butler

Setting out to make his fortune in a far-off country, a young traveller discovers the remote and beautiful land of Erewhon and is given a home among its extraordinarily handsome citizens. But their visitor soon discovers that this seemingly ideal community has its faults – here crime is treated indulgently as a malady to be cured, while illness, poverty and misfortune are cruelly punished, and all machines have been superstitiously destroyed after a bizarre prophecy. Can he survive in a world where morality is turned upside down? Inspired by Samuel Butler’s years in colonial New Zealand and by his reading of Darwin’s Origin of Species, Erewhon (1872) is a highly original, irreverent and humorous satire on conventional virtues, religious hypocrisy and the unthinking acceptance of beliefs.


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June 16th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (03/17/2021): Lucky Jim

Lucky Jim (cover)

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1953. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that “there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.” Kingsley Amis’s scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy.


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March 17th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (01/20/2021): A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms (cover)

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The definitive edition of the classic novel of love during wartime, featuring all of the alternate endings: “Fascinating…serves as an artifact of a bygone craft, with handwritten notes and long passages crossed out, giving readers a sense of an author’s process” (The New York Times).
Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield—weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.
Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right. This edition collects all of the alternative endings together for the first time, along with early drafts of other essential passages, offering new insight into Hemingway’s craft and creative process and the evolution of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Featuring Hemingway’s own 1948 introduction to an illustrated reissue of the novel, a personal foreword by the author’s son Patrick Hemingway, and a new introduction by the author’s grandson Seán Hemingway, this edition of A Farewell to Arms is truly a celebration.


Next Meeting:
January 20th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (12/16/2020): Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God (cover)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith


Next Meeting:
December 16th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (11/18/2020): Riders of the Purple Sage

Riders of the Purple Sage (cover)

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

In 1871 Utah, young Jane Withersteen is courted by Elder Tull, the leader of her polygamous Mormon church. When Jane refuses, the local Mormons persecute her. Meanwhile, Jane’s friend, Bern Venters, is captured by Tull’s posse and faces a harsh sentence. Jane defends him, causing even more friction with the Mormon populace. Enter Lassiter, a friend to Venters and an infamous gunslinger. His appearance causes Tull and his men to release Venters and flee – sparking a conflict that leaves Jane questioning her loyalties, Venters finding love, and Lassiter seeking revenge.


Next Meeting:
November 18th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Cozy Corner (11/04/2020): The Tower Treasure

The Tower Treasure (cover)

The Tower Treasure by Franklin Dixon

A dying criminal confesses that his loot has been stored “in the tower.” Both towers of the looted mansion are searched in vain. It remains for the Hardy boys to make an astonishing discovery that clears up the mystery and clears the name of a friend’s father.


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November 4th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (10/21/2020): Martin Chuzzlewit

Martin Chuzzlewit (cover)

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

Wealthy and old, Martin Chuzzlewit, Sr., is surrounded by greedy relatives hoping to obtain a portion of his estate upon his death. His two descendants, Martin, Jr., and Jonas, have been born and bred in the same heritage of selfishness, the Chuzzlewit tradition.

Set partly in America, of which Dickens offers a searing satire, this novel follows and contrasts the opposing fates of Martin and Jonas. While one achieves worldly success and, eventually, moral redemption, the other sinks deeper into the darkness—and pays the ultimate price.

This powerful black comedy is a tale of hypocrisy, greed, and blackmail, and it introduces the most famous of Dickens’ grotesques: Mrs. Gamp.


Next Meeting:
October 21st @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (09/16/2020): The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind (cover)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona, 1945—just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.
As with all astounding novels, The Shadow of the Wind sends the mind groping for comparisons—The Crimson Petal and the White? The novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte? Of Victor Hugo? Love in the Time of Cholera?—but in the end, as with all astounding novels, no comparison can suffice. As one leading Spanish reviewer wrote, “The originality of Ruiz Zafón’s voice is bombproof and displays a diabolical talent. The Shadow of the Wind announces a phenomenon in Spanish literature.” An uncannily absorbing historical mystery, a heart-piercing romance, and a moving homage to the mystical power of books, The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storyteller’s art.


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September 16th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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Enjoying the Classics (07/15/2020): Under the Volcano

Under the Volcano (cover)

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

“Lowry’s masterpiece” about a fateful Day of the Dead in a small Mexican town and one man’s struggle against the forces threatening to destroy him ( Los Angeles Times). In what the New York Times calls “one of the towering novels of [the twentieth] century,” former British consul Geoffrey Firmin lives alone with his demons in the shadow of two active volcanoes in South Central Mexico. Gripped by alcoholism, Geoffrey makes one last effort to salvage his crumbling life on the day that his ex-wife, Yvonne, arrives in town. It’s the Day of the Dead, 1938. The couple wants to revive their marriage and undo the wrongs of their past, but they soon realize that they’ve stumbled into the wrong place and time, where not only Geoffrey and Yvonne, but the world itself is on the edge of Armageddon. Hailed by the Modern Library as one of the one hundred best English novels of the twentieth century, Under the Volcano stands as an iconic and richly drawn example of the modern novel at its most lyrical.


Next Meeting:
July 15th @ 7:00 PM at Virtual Library

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