December is here and Christmas is less than three weeks away. (We are scrambling to get our holiday shopping done, too.) As you and your book club near your final gathering for 2013, we’d like to share some of our favorite books and literary pairings for readers of all kinds!
If you are giving the gift of Fannie Flagg this season then we recommend a photo album. This is a fitting and timeless gift to accompany this bestselling novel’s generation-spanning storyline.
A teapot is a central symbol in Tell the Wolves I’m Home, so pairing one with the book and some holiday teas will warm up any gift (Hint: We like chai and apple cinnamon this time of year!)
And finally, we recommend bundling The Wishing Thread, an enchanting debut novel, with yarn and a pair of knitting needles. A perfect read for book lovers and knitters alike!
In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
“The history is exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars. . . . Anne Morrow Lindbergh narrates the story of the Lindberghs’ troubled marriage in all its triumph and tragedy.”—USA Today
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. The epigraph for this novel is from Antoine de Saint- Exupéry who, like Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was both a celebrated
author and a noted aviator. Do you agree with his statement, “One must look with the heart”? What do you think that means? And do you think it means something different to an artist (author) as opposed to a scientist (aviator)?
2. One of the recurring themes is how Anne will choose to remember Charles. How do you think she concludes she’ll
remember him by the end? How does it change?
3. Anne’s father says, “And there’s Anne. Reliable Anne. You never change, my daughter.” (page 11) How does Anne change over the course of this novel? Or does she?
4. How does Anne’s nomadic lifestyle as the daughter of an ambassador later infl uence her concept of “home” with Charles? What do you think defines home?
5. Anne seems to think of herself as an outsider—someone too shy and insular to make a big impression. Do you agree, or do you think Anne misevaluates herself? Do you think this insularity made Anne appealing to Charles, or do you think he was drawn to her because he saw past it? Is Charles an insular character himself, whether by nature or because he was forced into a “celebrity bubble”?
6. “Had there ever been a hero like him, in all of history?” (page 16) Anne starts her description of Charles with hero worship, comparing him to Columbus and Marco Polo. How does her opinion evolve as she comes to know him better? How did your opinion of Charles Lindbergh evolve throughout Anne’s story?
7. The title of this book is, of course, The Aviator’s Wife. Do you think that’s how Anne views herself upon marrying Charles? Do you think she sees that as a role she’s playing, or as a defi ning characteristic of who she is? Does it change over the course of the book?
8. Have you ever been up in a biplane? Do you think you would ever go, even with an expert aviator at the controls?
9. Compare the relationships Anne has with the men in her life: her brother, Dwight; her father; and Charles.
10. What right to privacy do you think a public figure should have? Can a public fi gure decide what parts of his or her life stay private?
11. Have you ever met someone famous? Did he/she live up to your expectations?
12. Do you think Charles and Anne were in love? Why or why not? Did that change over time?
13. Do you think you could keep the secrets that Anne keeps from her children? Why or why not?
14. What do you think fl ying represents to Anne? How does it compare with writing? Which do you think is more important to Anne?
15. Do you think Charles Lindbergh was a good husband in any ways? What do you think makes for a good partner?
16. Is Anne a hero? Why or why not?
17. If you could ask Anne one question, what would it be?
18. How does Anne’s relationship with her family change after she marries Charles?
19. How would you react to the scrutiny by the press that Anne and Charles endured? Would you want to be famous if it
meant being constantly under the microscope? Would you answer differently if there weren’t social media outlets but
the same type of newspapers and newsreels from Anne and Charles’s lifetime?
Anna Quindlen is beloved by all readers and book clubs alike! From her “Last Word” column in Newsweek to her irresistible New York Times bestselling books such as Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and One True Thing (to name a few!), Quindlen has truly captured the minds of of her readers.
We are so happy to share this Q&A between Anna Quindlen and Kate Medina, her editor, with you in anticipation of her upcoming novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs.
Still Life with Bread Crumbs is your seventh novel. You write both bestselling fiction and nonfiction. How are the processes different for you, if they are? How do you decide which one to write next?
I always mean to sound purposeful when we talk about things like that, but it’s all pretty unexamined and intuitive. My last nonfiction book, the memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, came to life with an off handed comment I’d made to my daughter and a piece of data I stumbled across when writing my last Newsweek column. I’d been very satisfied writing novels, and I had no intention of moving back into nonfiction. Right now I’m juggling a novel in its nascent stages and a nonfiction book, as you know, and the most obvious difference is that on the first, I eventually plunged right into the writing, and on the second I’m still doing the reporting. Sometimes the reporting is an excuse not to write; other times it is such an aid to composition because, unlike the material in the novels, it is in your notes or on tape, doesn’t have to be excavated from the sometimes hard rock of imagination.
People love to know where the inspiration for a novel comes from. Would you say something about Still Life with Bread Crumbs in this regard?
It’s not one thing. It’s never one thing. I’ve thought a lot about the nature of art, and why women’s art, particularly if it arises from domestic life, is minimized, or denigrated—why, for instance, we pay less attention to the work of Alice McDermott, a genius miniaturist whose novels reflect the quiet everyday, then we do to the more sprawling, outward-facing work of Philip Roth. Some of my thinking on that is embodied in Rebecca’s photography and public reaction to it. I’m 61 years old, and I’ve thought a lot about aging, and the stages of a woman’s life, and that’s in there, too. From a purely mechanical point of view, I try to do some essential thing in each novel that I haven’t done before. In this book it was twofold: I’ve never written a love story, and I haven’t written a book with a happy ending, and this material lent itself to both.
We’ve been working together for 25 years, on a wide range of your books—fiction, nonfiction, memoir. We are both often asked about the editorial process between writer and editor. Might you comment briefly about that process? What is the heart of it for you?
Oh, Kate, you broke me in. I cringe when I remember the first draft of Object Lessons. You said the writing was lovely, and the characters memorable, but not much happened in the course of the book. And I replied, “That’s how real life is.” You said, so sweetly, “And that’s why we call this a novel.”
The heart of the editing process is a fresh pair of sensitive and informed eyes. By the time I’m done a draft, I have no clue. Is it the best thing I’ve ever done? Is it a complete disaster? Depends on which day you ask me. But more than that, I am so close to the material that I not only can’t get out of the weeds, I can’t figure out where they are. That’s where you come in. You read and read again and then send me your long memo, which always begins “I love this book!” Then come the buts—about murky character development, fallow areas, missed opportunities. I’m not going to go into detail and thus illuminate my own dopiness, but sometimes you ask a question about something I’ve done, or failed to do, and I want to smack myself in the head, it’s so obvious.
Of course, a critical part of this process is the trust between us. You speak fluent Quindlen and you don’t try to edit me into someone else. And once our dialogue begins, I become more confident about my own work in that I know where you are right about changes, cuts, amendments, and where I disagree and will leave well enough alone.
Join the conversation with Anna on Facebook!
This new novel from Laura Andersen’s series is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors. Set in the imagined Tudor court of King Henry IX, son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, must navigate a terrain rife with palace intrigue, impending war, and unbridled passions.
The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging.
Even more scandalous—and dangerous, if discovered—is that Minuette’s heart and soul belong to Dominic, William’s best friend and trusted advisor. Minuette must walk a delicate balance between her two suitors, unable to confide in anyone, not even her friend Elizabeth, William’s sister, who must contend with her own cleaved heart. In this irresistible tale, the secrets that everyone keeps are enough to change the course of an empire.
Enter below for your chance to win! Join the conversation with Laura on Twitter.
No Thanksgiving feast is complete without cranberry sauce! Nancy Thayer, author of the recent holiday favorite A Nantucket Christmas, shares her homemade cranberry sauce recipe. The recipe calls for: bourbon, cinnamon, cranberries, and sugar- all ingredients help you bring this fresh and essential item to your Thanksgiving table.
Nancy & David’s Nantucket Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
1 tsp bourbon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring contents to a boil. Add fresh cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add bourbon, and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat, stir in spice and zest, and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until it’s time to eat. Makes approximately 2-1/4 cups.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe to share? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us on our Facebook page.