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Chat’n’Chew March 2024


Welcome to the books our Chat’n’Chew book group discussed in March 2024. Hopefully, there is at least one book here that will appeal to you. Our next meeting is scheduled for April 17th from 12:30-2:00. We will be meeting in person in the Ellsworth Room but if you choose, you can join us through Google Meet. Register through our calendar and you will be sent a link to connect for that day on Google Meet.  We share what everyone has been reading the past month. We invite all those who are passionate about books and reading to join us.

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands (Emily Wilde Series Book 2) By Heather Fawcett

This second book in the series sometimes feels like a cozy mystery novel as well as a fantasy novel. It is recommended that you read the first in this series (and there will be a third and final one published in 2025.) The main character, Emily Wilde, an impressive professor of faeries along with her encyclopedia brimming with its knowledge of faerie folklore and research is back again. And far more charming, if vain, fellow scholar Wendell Bambleby is also back and they are united on another chaotic adventure where they’re searching for a door back to his faerie realm, where he was exiled. The setting is the early 1900s in the Austrian Alps. This reader enjoyed this book as well as the first but liked the more personal, instead of academic, reasons behind Emily’s “field research” this time. A fantastic escape read. 

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

This is a non-fiction book by a popular fiction writer. (The Midnight Library) Matt Haig in this personal book, talks about his mental health and the way he has struggled with it his whole life.  He gives readers different recommendations for feel-good movies, recipes, and music. In addition, Haig tells us how we can continue our lives despite the bad experiences we have had in the past. There is something for everybody in this book. It is not necessarily a book you will read cover to cover. It is one that you can pick up and read just a small part of, or a lot of. On days you need something to cheer you up, or just to inspire you he shows you how you can look at the world in a better way.

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Linda See

Lady Tan Yunxian, a woman born into an elite class in China during the 15th Century, decides to tell her story. She relates class restrictions and expectations, of learning medicine from her grandmother, of life and death, and friendship. After losing her mother at eight years old, Yunxian is sent to live with her grandparents. Not only does her grandmother offer Yunxian an opportunity to learn medicine, but she also offers her granddaughter the gift of friendship with Meiling, the local midwife’s daughter. This book is inspired by a real-life Tan Yunxian and her actual written medical text. (In 1511 at the age of 50 she published this book of her cases. All of her patients were women and girls ) At this time, female physicians were extremely rare and male doctors were not permitted to see a woman. The heart of this tale is its circle of women — concubines, spinsters, midwives, servants, and Yunxian’s daughters — who rally around each other in ways both large and small throughout the novel’s pages. From the beginning, you’ll find yourself steeped in the culture and social customs of ancient China as the author provides insights into foot-binding — which will make you cringe — to producing jasmine tea. A wonderful piece of historical fiction that anyone will love.

Euphoria by Lily King

This literary/historical fiction novel is set in 1933. It’s an intimate look at three anthropologists – Nell Stone, Schuyler Fenwick, and Andrew Bankson. The novel is about what ensues when Nell and Fen who are researching tribes along the Sepik River in the South Pacific, in New Guinea connect with Andrew and form a friendship. New Guinea is lush-exotic and dazzling with its meandering rivers and lakes, rain forests, and landscapes. This friendship between the three of them creates an opportunity to shed the loneliness and isolation that comes from spending months away from Western civilization. They have traveled to the innermost remote areas of the region seeking out tribes and attempting to decipher cultures. These three are drawn to one another, and their professional and romantic interactions are quite irresistible. However, the costs are eventually tragic. Heartbreaking, fascinating, beautiful, and spellbinding, all in equal measure. Loosely based on the experiences of real-life anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson.

Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan

A historical fiction based on true events, focussing on the functioning of the Bethnal Green Library from the local underground station during the WWII Blitz (the German bombs destroy the roof of the main library, and when the librarians are forced to seek shelter underground, they decide to bring the library underground, as well.)Three women work in this British library during the war. One woman escaped the Nazis. Another was being forced into a marriage, and the third lost her fiancé in the military. The story shares the hardships of the times, the toll it took on everyone, as well as the willingness to step outside of their comfort zones and help one another.  They develop friendships and enemies, but through it all, they keep the library running. These shelters became underground communities for civilians who often spent the entire night there together, providing people with a library, medical care, food, shelter, and even a school for children. A lovely ode to the power of books and how a love of reading builds connections and provides an escape during harrowing times. Recommended.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Here is another book by the author Matt Haig but this one is Fiction. Because of a rare medical condition, Tom Hazard has been alive since the 1500s. Born into a wealthy French family, he has traveled all over the world, assumed many different identities, and led a life characterized by adventure, trauma, emotion, and loneliness. Tom has performed with Shakespeare, explored with Captain Cook, shared a cocktail with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and experienced the drastic changes the world has undergone through the centuries.

Even though he has seen incredible things, what Tom wants more than anything is a normal life. What good is living for hundreds of years if you have to do so alone, without letting anyone get close to you? This is a fascinating, moving book about love, loss, loneliness, and adventure. Matt Haig is a tremendous storyteller.

**Because this group talks about a variety of books they’ve read, we often reread suggested books that another member has read and recommended.  West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutlidge is a book that several members have read and thoroughly enjoyed. We have reviewed and mentioned it before so we encourage you to also give it a try since anyone who reads it has given it 5 stars. A very engaging piece of historical fiction. An unexpected treasure.