Open Book Group
Friends of Balmain Library Open Book Group read from a wide variety of literature and regularly meets for an enjoyable discussion and debate about the book chosen for the month. We are always open to new members.
The following have been selected for future meetings in 2020
20th October 2020 - A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The mega-bestseller with more than 1.5 million readers that is soon to be a major television series
He can't leave his hotel. You won't want to.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility--a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
10th November 2020 - The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, widely known as a relentless advocate for promoting human rights, has been heralded by President Barack Obama as one of America's "foremost thinkers on foreign policy."
In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?"—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama’s human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. The Education of an Idealist lays bare the battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity.
8th December 2020 - The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes
The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi
In the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days’ shopping. One was a Prince, one was a Count, and the third was a commoner with an Italian name, who four years earlier had been the subject of one of John Singer Sargent’s greatest portraits. The commoner was Samuel Pozzi, society doctor, pioneer gynaecologist and free-thinker – a rational and scientific man with a famously complicated private life.
Pozzi's life played out against the backdrop of the Parisian Belle Epoque. The beautiful age of glamour and pleasure more often showed its ugly side: hysterical, narcissistic, decadent and violent, a time of rampant prejudice and blood-and-soil nativism, with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine.
The Man in the Red Coat is at once a fresh and original portrait of the Belle Epoque – its heroes and villains, its writers, artists and thinkers – and a life of a man ahead of his time. Witty, surprising and deeply researched, the new book from Julian Barnes illuminates the fruitful and longstanding exchange of ideas between Britain and France, and makes a compelling case for keeping that exchange alive.
9th February 2021 - The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvey
When her elderly mother is hospitalised after an accident, Vicki is summoned to her parents' isolated and run-down ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to care for her father. She has been estranged from her parents for many years (the reasons for which become quickly clear) and is horrified by what she discovers on her arrival.
For years her mother has suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness but carefully hidden her delusions and unpredictable behaviour behind a carefully guarded mask, and has successfully isolated herself and her husband from all their friends. But once in hospital her mask begins to crack and her actions leave everyone baffled and confused ... and eventually scared for their lives.
Meanwhile Vicki's father, who has been systematically starved and harruanged for years, and kept virtually a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.
The ensuing power play between the two takes a dramatic turn and leaves Vicki stuck in the middle of a bizarre and ludicrously strange family dilemma. All this makes for an intensely gripping, yet black-humoured family drama which will leave you on the edge of your seat.