Story Walk: "read"
Adam Bede Book Club by Muriel L. Shaw
Have you read George Eliot’s classic novel, ‘Adam Bede’? The ladies of the Browncroft neighborhood book club, formed in the early 1980’s, did. Hearing this, a friend promptly referred to us as the ‘Adam Bede’ book club. The name has stuck. Membership, about a dozen, changes as women move and new members, some not in the neighborhood, replace them. Once a month, at a member’s home, over a glass of wine, we discuss our latest ‘read’. Book choices range from classics to contemporary fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and plays.
Our group has been fortunate to include women from other cultures. Yanling, an exchange teacher from China, lived with one member. At her first meeting, we discussed Jung Chang’s ‘Wild Swans’. She added background, commenting on her parents’ experiences in the time period and telling us, “Yes, the shoes of women with bound feet really were that small.” Upon returning to China, Yanling sent two books of Chinese folk tales which we enjoyed. For Pushkin’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, exchange student Irina read Tatiana’s letter in Russian so that we could hear the melody, rhythm and rhyme of Russia’s premier poet. Discussing Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’, we were acutely aware that we lacked background on India’s culture, history and religions. When member Sandra contacted the local India Society, Sita joined our club. She has helped us through several books, including ‘The Mystic Masseur’ by Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul. Most recently, we have had assistance in reading Orhan Pamuk’s ‘Istanbul: Memories and the City’ from our Turkish member, Aysenur.
Each June, we read a play performed at Niagara-on-the-Lake. This year it was Oscar Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’. One of our members, a theater teacher, gives us background and then assigns parts for a delightful evening of play reading. This is topped off with a day at Niagara-on-the –Lake, including luncheon, attending the matinee performance, discussing the play over champagne and elegant dessert at a Queenston Heights picnic table covered with pink linens , and watching the sun set over Lake Ontario as we return to Browncroft.
Next we will discuss Ha Jin’s short story collection ‘A Good Fall’ at Muriel’s home and later travel to Chautauqua to hear him speak. With almost four hundred books read, the Adam Bede book club is a dynamic Browncroft neighborhood institution.