0150. HAVE YOU READ? BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
10:00 - 12:00 noon Fridays, September 10 - December 3
HAVE YOU READ? BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
September 10: Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Plot (ISBN 978-1250790967). “A spectacular avalanche” of a novel, according to New York Times reviewer Elisabeth Egan. A cross between the academic novel and the thriller, the plot revolves around a creative writing teacher who steals his student’s story. The Plot’s plot centers on the writer’s life, the publishing industry, “the nature of intellectual property” (Egan), and the moral responsibility of a teacher to a student – even if that student is dead.
October 8: P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley (ISBN 978-0307950659). Fan fiction, the genre that features characters from another work of fiction, is here combined with detective fiction as Elizabeth Bennet, six years after her marriage to Mr. Darcy, is confronted with a murder mystery. P.D. James, the great British crime writer, decided at the age of ninety-one to write a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Did the Darcys live happily ever after? Has Lydia Bennet matured at all? Is Lady Catherine de Bourgh as obnoxious as ever? And, most important, who killed Captain Denny?
November 5: Matt Haig, The Midnight Library (ISBN 978-0525559474). Libraries offer readers a window into lives different from their own. In this novel, Matt Haig takes this metaphor literally, using the concept of variant lives as the basis for his fantasy plot. In the Midnight Library, presided over by a “wise” librarian, “every book on the shelves is a doorway into a different life,” providing the protagonist, thirty-five-year-old Nora Seed, with “provisional lives” different from her real life. However, one of the books is so dangerous as to be “toxic” (Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times). In this novel, reading is not mere escapism but a risky business.
December 3: Sheila Kohler, Becoming Jane Eyre (ISBN 978-0143115977). Another kind of fan fiction, Kohler’s novel appeals to many readers’ curiosity about the biographical connection between a writer and her character. The Brontë family, living their haunted lives on the Yorkshire moors, has long fascinated readers. In addition to Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, many of us have also read Jean Rhys’ 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea, describing the earlier life of the first Mrs. Rochester, Bertha Mason. This novel examines the nexus between Charlotte Brontë’s own life and the creation of Jane Eyre, her “fictional alter ego” (Christopher Benfey, New York Times).
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-American fiction.