Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Hello everyone,

Here are some questions to think about for 30th June 2011. Also, if anyone would like to bake this time, please let me know.

- Eccentrics thrive in Berendt’s Savannah. Does this mean that the people of Savannah are unusually tolerant? In what ways are they tolerant, and in what instances do they prove to be intolerant? How tolerant are they when it comes to the crossing of sexual, racial, or class lines?

- How would you describe Jim Williams’s character? Do you find him amusing? Sinister? How much sympathy do you have for him? Reading the book, did you hope for him to be acquitted? Why, or why not?

- What do you think the narrator’s attitude is toward the voodoo that is practiced on Williams’s behalf? Does he imply that it is of any value? How would you describe Minerva? Is she the sort of person you would expect to be practicing voodoo?

- One reader from Georgia has said of Berendt, “I think he captured what it is to be Southern. He captured the not-talked-about way of life” (USA Today 4/15/94). If this is true, what would you say it is to be Southern? What does the South Berendt describes represent? Does it differ from stereotypes about the South?

- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil begins with a portrait of Jim Williams, the man around whom the book's "plot" revolves. Yet the author sweeps Williams offstage after one chapter and we do not encounter him again until the end of Chapter 11, when we learn that he shot Danny Hansford. What does Berendt accomplish by doing this? Is Midnight truly Williams's story, and if not, who is its real protagonist?

- As elaborate as these façades are, Berendt suggests that they are also transparent. The salesman's boss knows that he wears makeup on one eye, just as none of Lee Adler's old associates buy his altruistic pretensions. Why, then, might the characters in this book maintain their various masquerades? Is Berendt saying anything about the façades that all of us adopt in order to survive?

Questions are from  Reading Group Guides.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


This is an interesting link to an article about the banning of our bookclub book of the month.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

This month we had only a few members who were able to make it to the meeting, but those of us that did make it had cakes etc. made by Sarah and Anne.

Everyone in the club really enjoyed this months book, only one person didn't manage to finish it, this was due to lack of time rather than anything else. It shocked us how much we enjoyed a story that is in essence about racism. Some of the things that went on and still go on around this topic are very ugly and show human kind at their worst. This book is very obviously a fictional account of what might have gone on, mixed with some elements of reality, for example, talking about certain people well known in Black History such as Martin Luther King.

As we were discussing the different characters we discovered that we each interpreted them very differently. We all felt they were a little stereotyped, but that this didn't detract that much from the overall story. The use of accents was very helpful in distinguishing the different characters, although to begin with it could be a little difficult to read. We all felt that Celia was one of our most favourite characters, she seemed to be the most realistic of the women. Although we found her relationship with Minny and her husband slightly odd. We all loved strength of the characters involved with the book, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. Some of things that they described were by turns very humorous, touching and terrifying. We wish that there was a real book written like this that we could read to have a better insight into the time period.

There were certain scenes that we felt were not necessary to do with Celia and her 'illness'. We were not at all sure that they were even realistic let alone added anything much to the book. They could have been included in a much less graphic fashion.

One thing we felt was missing from the book would be a section somewhere giving a little more history to the book. Maybe introducing some of the main historical figures in this time period, along with some kind of timeline so readers not familiar with it would have something to help them with the background.

As to the question of racism, and how it occurs within a population we decided that it can be taught through it being accepted within a community. But we also believe that having grown up in a racist culture a person can see that this is wrong and decide for themselves that everyone should be treated equal. In the time that this book was set this was a very difficult and dangerous thing to do, but thanks to those brave people things have changed. Sadly racism is still alive and well but maybe by reading books like this people can be taught to be more accepting.

The overall score out of 10 for this book was 7. We all agreed that we would definitely recommend it to our friends.