0118. A SENSE of PLACE: Thematic Readings
10:30 – 12:30 pm Fridays, January 10 - May 15
A SENSE of PLACE: Thematic Readings
January 10 Macbeth by Jo Nesbø (ISBN 978-0553419054). In another volume in the Hogarth
Shakespeare project, the bard’s “Scottish play” is “transplanted to a geographically agnostic place…
a grim northern town where industry has shut down and it nearly always rains” (Steven Poole,
reviewing in The Guardian). It is 1970, and much has changed, but not the human lust for power.
February 7 Milkman by Anna Burns (ISBN 978-1644450000). This novel won the Man Booker
Prize for 2018. Like Nesbø’s Macbeth, it is set in the 1970’s, but the “unnamed town in an
unnamed country… appears to be the author’s native Belfast,” scene of mortal conflict
between various Nationalist groups and an also unnamed country which has to be England
(Ron Charles, reviewing in The Washington Post).
March 20 Inland by Téa Obreht (ISBN 978-0812992861). Set on the American frontier, the
Arizona Territory in the nineteenth century, this historical novel interweaves the stories of
two characters. One is a “tenacious frontierswoman” named Nora, the other is “an immigrant
and wanted man who can see the dead,” but both are “driven… by literal thirst and haunted
by a more intangible want” (Chanelle Benz, reviewing in The New York Times).
April 17 The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (ISBN 978-0062963673). In this family saga, a real
estate purchase determines the family’s fortune forever after. A perceptive community reviewer
on Goodreads, Angela M., comments that “place” in this novel “is such a strong and integral part
of the story that it deserves as much attention as if it were a character.” The house is not merely
shelter or a savvy investment, but a source of different symbolic meanings for all the characters.
May 15 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (ISBN 978-0385543781). A sequel to The
Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s novel, not yet released or reviewed as of this writing, picks up at
the point at which the protagonist, Offred, is arrested by the Eyes and “taken away to an
uncertain fate” (www.britannica.com). Does Offred escape the theocratic dystopia, Gilead?
Is there a better place for women, and if so, how does one get there?
About The Lecturer
Margaret Hallissy is Professor of English with specialties in medieval literature, Irish
literature, and the modern phenomenon of “book groups,” which have sprung up in
communities throughout the nation. She has written numerous articles and scholarly
books, including works on book group procedures and leadership as well as Irish and