We will not only be discussing the book of choice, but also sharing in an amazing dinner that goes along with the theme of the book, prepared by Chef Contos for you!
MENU: Kale & Date Caesar Salad, Honey Herb Roasted Chicken, Truffle Mac & Cheese, Spiralized Roasted Vegetables, 3 ½ pound Apple Pie
Just sign-up, and come with your appetite and the book read and ready to discuss!
The book inspired menu will have a New England theme and is coming soon!
Book club meetings will happen every two months - no need to commit for the long haul! Each book club will have a new sign-up, so if one meeting is full, you can sign up for the next.
Limited to 10 people. BYOB.
The Book: Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
Read the New York Times Review-
Catastrophe and misfortune are a novelist’s friends, dramatic devices that provide a plot and let characters demonstrate their range. Tragedies tunnel through life, and the suspense comes from seeing how these spaces will be filled. This is what excites us about books that begin with a sorrowful bang. Grief is sad — we know that — but what now? How will these particular characters respond? What else do you have to give us?
In his masterly first novel, “Did You Ever Have a Family,” Bill Clegg gives us June Reid, a small Connecticut town and a fire on the eve of June’s daughter’s wedding that obliterates everything: June’s home, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her daughter and her daughter’s fiancé. How could anyone react to such unfathomable loss? June responds by making a zombielike crawl west to a seaside motel in Moclips, Wash., where she now hides, rarely leaving her room.
“She will go,” Clegg writes. “Tuck into her Subaru wagon and roll down these twisting, potholed country roads until she finds a highway, points west and away. She will keep going for as long and as far as possible without a passport, since the one she had no longer exists.”
This opening provides readers with a kind of map and manual, showing us how to read where we’ll go and where we won’t. We won’t be dealing with detectives, insurance agents or the practical matters of death. We won’t accompany June to a bank, or a clothing store or the D.M.V. to replace the license she lost in the fire. Surprisingly, we won’t even venture into craggy emotional terrain, for June is not that kind of mourner: “She has not cried. Not that day, not at the funerals, not after. She has said little, has had few words when she needs them, so she finds herself only able to nod, shake her head and wave the concerned and curious away as she would marauding gnats.”
June is reticent, zoned out, moving as if on a conveyor belt. I confess this surprised me a little. Based on the setup and (perhaps naïvely) the publisher’s promise of a book that “elicits a deep and personal response,” I anticipated feeling more, grieving alongside the characters. I can’t imagine not shedding a tear or speaking to anyone after losing loved ones, especially a child — but grief is custom-made and unpredictable. Not only do the novel’s directions point us away from practicalities and immediate heartbreak, but Clegg has created characters who aren’t very confiding to begin with. They are riddled with secrets and betrayals they’ve only just begun to unearth. They have complicated pasts, and it is these — far more than the immediate concerns of the present or the obvious burdens of grief — that the novel is most interested in exploring.