The main theme could not be more serious: deciding what’s really important in life and following your heart. This is a very Finnish book. Our fragile connection with nature is examined, and nature seems to play an important and almost magical role in the national identity of Finns. They don’t seem to mind snow–it comes with the territory. There is a tension between individual freedom and government regulation and allusions to Finland’s traditional enmity with and distrust of Russia.
“Seeds of Hope” is almost like a memoir as the author talks about her relationship with plants and trees throughout her life in a very personal, personable way. Photographs (both black & white and color) are used throughout the book to good effect. Goodall is most known for her work with chimpanzees, but she has always had a special relationship with trees. She’d spent many hours in a beech tree growing up in England reading about Africa and doing her homework.
The Armenian genocide took place 100 years ago in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey currently denies that it was genocide, so there’s a great deal of controversy going on, especially during this centennial year. “The Sandcastle Girls” is written by someone with Armenian heritage, and it’s pretty clear what he thinks.
The impetus for reading this book came from a trip to Eldon, Iowa, to visit the original house Grant Wood used as the background for his 1930 iconic painting American Gothic. If you haven’t been to The American Gothic House Visitor Center, I do recommend it. The story behind the painting and the subsequent parodies of it are fascinating and, best of all, visitors get to dress up in American Gothic garb and, holding pitchforks, stand in front of the house for a photo opportunity.
This was a “One Book One Bettendorf” title in celebration of the Library’s 60th anniversary on July 12, 2015. Along with several other activities, we gave away 300 books and recorded stories about Bettendorf and its citizens as well as the Library and its patrons. We hosted a book discussion in which we chose which story was our favorite. I liked two stories which were opposites of each other in that one featured a father who couldn’t or wouldn’t love and the other featured a father who had an abundance of love.
This was a terrific book to discuss on the July 4th weekend. I learned so much about the women behind the men: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney, Deborah Read Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and many more. They weren’t just wives–they were also sisters, mothers, daughters, and mistresses. There were certain things that were universal about these women–they all exhibited a strong sense of duty. Under the prevailing 18th century system called couverture, the wives were also all “owned” by their husbands. And they could expect to be pregnant, nursing babies, or caring for sick family members most of their lives.