2010-2011 Senior Center Books — Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897 Tel: 203-762-3950

2010-2011 Senior Center Books

All adult Wilton residents are welcome to join this free book discussion group which meets at the Comstock Community Center from September through May. An optional lunch following the discussion is $3. Extra copies of each title will be available at the Wilton Library in the month the book is to be discussed. Please call the Senior Center at 834-6240 to reserve a place for lunch.

Click Here for Past Senior Center Selections

September 28

at 11 am

Final Harvest by Emily Dickinson

Final Harvest by Emily Dickinson Discussion Leader: Judson Scruton

Final Harvest is a selected volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Drawing from her complete works, these poems represent Dickinson’s complex personality and the development of her style. Dickinson, a poetic genius, is said to have been an existentialist in a time of transcendentalism. She had a tragic vision, and, although she knew she could not know the unknowable, she insisted on asking the questions. During her lifetime only seven anonymous verses were published. Her poems were found after her death and various editions slowly appeared. A very private person, perhaps her attitude toward herself is best described in the opening lines of one of her poems which read as follows: “ I am Nobody! Who are you? Are you—Nobody—Too?….”

October 26

at 11 am

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford Discussion Leader: Maureen Canary

This first novel by the author Jamie Ford is the story of a Chinese American named Henry Lee and his memories of Seattle’s Japantown during his childhood in the 1940s. Now an elderly man, Lee, in this sentimental story, remembers his friendship with a Japanese American girl named Keiko Okabe before her family’s internment in the camps during World War II. Possessions belonging to these families have been found in the long unused Panama Hotel basement where Lee searches for traces of Keiko. To quote Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, “Jamie Ford’s first novel explores…the sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longings of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.”

November 23 at 11 am

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain Discussion Leader: Ray Rauth

This is no ordinary travel book. Mark Twain made the decision to write this book late in 1881 and on April 18, 1882, Twain, his publisher, James R. Osgood, and Roswell Phelps, a stenographer, began the journey to the Mississippi. They traveled by rail covering the thousand miles from New York to St. Louis in a day and a half; then, took four hours in a little packet to make the one-mile trip across the river to East St. Louis and into a different civilization. In the introduction to the book it is stated that “The juxtaposition of the two civilizations connected by the drifting river was…a metaphor expressing Mark Twain’s contradictory imagination. A child of progress who had committed himself to the technology of steam, to the American ideology of freedom and progress, and to the American business of finance capitalism…yet could fully feel the pleasure and indulgence of idleness, lost time, and even lost cause.”

January 25 at 11 am

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham Discussion Leader: William Zeigler

In this novel a young American veteran of World War I, Larry Darrell, searches for enlightenment. As he attempts to find the answers to the ultimate questions about human life, his quest leads the reader through European and American society from WWI through the Great Depression. In his insatiable appetite for reading, particularly about religious experience, Darrell is said to be a self portrait of Maugham. When published in both America and Britain in 1944, the book became an immediate bestseller. In reviewing the book, the Saturday Review of Literature stated that, “Maugham remains the consummate craftsman….His writing is so compact, so economical, so closely motivated, so skillfully written, that it rivets attention from the first pages to last.”

February 22 at 11 am

A Reporter’s Life by Walter Cronkite

A Reporter’s Life by Walter Cronkite Discussion Leader: David Ostergren

At the age of eighty Cronkite wrote his life story. In this memoir he reminisces about his personal life as well as his extraordinary life in journalism. In a slightly formal conversational style he writes about his Midwestern childhood, his marriage and family, as well as relating remarkable stories from his long and distinguished career. He was not a “star” anchor but reported firsthand from places like the trenches of World War II and Vietnam. He covered events such as the civil rights movement and the Apollo Space Program and was familiar with presidents and with the halls of political and media power in both Washington, D.C., and New York. The Wall Street Journal described this book as “Immediately engrossing…a splendid memoir.”

March 22 at 11 am

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett Discussion Leader: Kathy Leeds

Kathryn Stockett’s novel featuring three extraordinary women creates an engrossing portrait of the rural South in the 1960s. The main character, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, has newly arrived home to her parents’ cotton farm after graduating from Ole Miss. Although largely unaware of the civil rights movement and of the tensions beginning to form in her town, but anxious to become a writer, she begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club set depends. At first these women are afraid to cooperate with her but in time two stalwart women, Aibileen and Minny, agree to tell their stories and are able to convince ten other women to do the same. The book Skeeter puts together shocks the white community but brings hope to the black community and gives her the courage to pursue her dreams.

April 26 at 11 am

The Comedians by Graham Greene

The Comedians by Graham Greene Discussion Leader: Miwako Ogasawara

Set in Haiti during the time of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute, this is a novel of adventure and intrigue. Both a tragedy and a comedy, it was written at a time of crisis in Greene’s personal life and the book reflects this in its setting in a country in crisis, a time of terror and stress. Beginning with a voyage on a Haiti-bound cargo ship where the main characters named Brown, Smith, and Jones originally meet, the story goes on to reveal that not one of the characters is who he really seems to be. Both tragic and troubled, in a sense they are all comedians and at a certain point each is described as such. Paul Theroux in his introduction to the paperback edition states that “Haiti had no fiction—and hardly had a face—until Greene wrote this book.”

May 24 at 11 am

Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars by Catherine Clinton

Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars by Catherine Clinton Discussion Leader: Barbara Jones

In the mid-1830s Fanny Kemble was a celebrity in America. A British stage star, she was a member of the most famous theatrical family in Europe. Because of family financial reverses, in the summer of 1832, she and her father began a two-year theatrical tour of America in order to keep the Kemble family finances afloat. While in America Fanny was pursued by Pierce Butler of Philadelphia, the heir to vast holdings of rice and cotton plantations in the Sea Islands of Georgia, including nine hundred slaves. Married in June of 1834, the marriage soon became unhappy and Fanny, after spending time on the plantations and viewing the lives of the slaves, became an ardent abolitionist. In 1863 she published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation which caused a sensation in both America and Great Britain. Combining history and biography, Fanny Kemble’s Civil Wars reads like a novel.