This was the very first time the store has hosted a book club and I have to give them credit for putting on a nice event. They had about 30 people attend (mostly women with a few men sprinkled in), they served coffee and desserts, and the meeting lasted for an hour. I met a lovely woman named Kathy (hi Kathy!) while I was there. Hopefully she and I can meet for dinner before one of the next meetings ...
The woman who lead the discussion started off with a presentation. She talked about what a Haggadah is, what the Jewish Seder is, and also gave some background info on the real Sarajevo Haggadah and author Geraldine Brooks.
The presentation was both good and bad. For people who were unfamiliar with Jewish traditions, this was very enlightening (but I already knew most of what she talked about). Also, because I was so interested in the book, I had done a bit of research on the Sarajevo Haggadah ... so I already knew all the facts she shared about it. The same goes for the author; there was no new info for me.
I do realize that I was probably more prepared than most people at the meeting so I can't fault her presentation for it's content. However, it took 30 minutes - half of the entire meeting time. That's a bit long in my opinion.
On the good side, she did present some info that I did NOT know ...
I'm sure we're all familiar with the standard structure of a novel that we learned in school.
As the diagram shows, the plot builds up to a climax then descends to the denouement or resolution.
However, postmodern novels generally fit a different format. She called it an "amoeba plot".
That point on the left is the start of the story. It focuses on one character. Each "bubble" in the storyline is a subplot, almost a separate story within the story. The straight line connecting to the bottom of the point on the left is the original plot revisited. The original story is picked up almost where it left off, with little or no change in the original character.
That structure fits this novel perfectly, and I loved learning something new!
When we finally got to the actual discussion, I was quite happy. Luckily not all of the 30 people present felt the need to speak, otherwise we'd have been there all night. But several people did share their thoughts. Here's a list of some of the sometimes contradictory points raised:
- Hanna's character was not as fully developed as the characters in the other stories
- Hanna's mother was not a believable character
- Hanna's mother was very realistic - she reminded one member of her own mother
- the Haggadah itself is the main character of the story, everything else is merely background
- the central theme of the book is the creation of non-traditional families (I heartily agreed with this, once I understood what this woman was getting at)
- the plot structure is very much like The Da Vinci Code (oh how I hated that book!)
The group will meet again next month to discuss The Camel Bookmobile. I won't be attending, because the store is about an hour from my office (I had to go directly from work to make it on time). However, I will consider attending again if they are discussing a book I particularly want to read.
Oh, and they asked me to consider leading one of upcoming club events ... I'll have to think about that one.