Washington Black  by Esi Edugyan

When:  October 10, 2019

Young “Wash” Black, born into slavery in Barbados in the early 1800s, ends up traveling the world with an inventor who noticed the young man’s talent for drawing and his interest in science and nature. Through many adventures he comes to know himself,  thereby freeing himself from slavery and his past.  A beautifully written novel nominated for a Booker Prize.

Discussant:  Fran Nelson

The Overstory by Richard Powers

When: November 14, 2019

This ingeniously structured narrative, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, follows nine characters whose close relationships with trees lead them – and us the readers – to “a deep appreciation of forests and of our place in a system that doesn’t begin and end with humans.” Trees are the real heroes of this novel.

Discussant: Elizabeth Terplan

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens

When:  January 9, 2020

A young girl growing up in the coastal marshes of North Carolina’s outer banks must face many of life’s difficulties alone. This novel is both a murder mystery and a “coming of age” story as she learns to find her place in the world. It includes lush descriptions of the environment.

Discussant: Debbie Ford-Scriba

Taft  by Ann Patchett

When: February 13, 2020

Three rich narratives are woven together in this novel set in Memphis.  African-American bar manager and ex-musician John Nichols must deal with his relationship with his son, his involvement with two white teenagers, and his rich imagining of their father, Taft.  The novel is as resonant as a blues song, each story harmonizing with and answering the others.  Tragedy and comedy intertwine; broken families are mended and what is lost is found again.  

Discussant: Jeni Flynn

Citizens of London by Lynn Olson

When: April 9, 2020

In this intriguing history we meet three Americans working in London prior to America’s entry into World War II: Edward R. Murrow, the news reporter; Averell Harriman, the millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program; and John G. Winant, the US ambassador to London.  The three were key players in forging the alliance with Britain that led to America’s entry into war.

Discussants: Nancy Curran and Susan Watson

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

When: May 14, 2020

This “classic” novel, considered by some to be Willa Cather’s masterpiece, is on several lists as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

It is based on the true story of two French priests sent in the 1890s as missionaries to the Indians and Mexicans in New Mexico territory. They aim to bring religion to this less

civilized area, but in the end they are saved in ways they could not have been had they remained in Europe. 

Discussant: Beth Garbutt