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Reviews: Natchez Women's Book Society
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Book Reviews

This is a service provided for members, especially those who are unable to attend a meeting (who are of course discussed in their absence). It will summarize and review the books some months.

At the moment, as you can see, the reviewer is busying contemplating her next review. She's been contemplating it for quite a while, since the last review was in 2003! But they promise they're going to do better. 

October 27, 2003 - Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand *****
January 27 2003 - Jefferson Davis: American by William Cooper ****
November 19 2002 - Sleep No More by Greg Iles ***
June 25 2002 - Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani ****
May 28 2002 - The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer ****
April 23 2002 - The Summons by John Grisham ***
January 22 2002 - John Adams by David McCullough *****  

October 27, 2003 - Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand  

Many in the book club approached this book with hesitancy because of little background in the sport of horse racing. To the amazement of all it was found that not only was this the unbelievable life of a horse, but also the inside story of this very dangerous sport and the history of a nation pulling itself up from the depths of the Depression Era. More important it is the story of how three men, the owner, the trainer and the jockey, were able to see the possibility and character in each other and this horse. Some in the club felt that too much time was taken at the beginning of the book exploring the backgrounds of these three men. Others felt that was one of the strong points of the book. These three men recognized that heart and character were most important, not the outer covering valued by many. Seabiscuit was an unlikely hero and yet this underdog captured the imagination of a nation and inspired those who worked with him to be more than they ever dreamed they could be. This book was years in the writing because the author suffers from severe chronic fatigue syndrome. Her personal goal was to produce a nonfiction book that was as interesting to read as a novel. She certainly achieved her goal. Everyone who read the book enjoyed it, but, as always, some more than others. Ms. Hillengrand's topic for her next book is eagerly awaited.
~Karen Callaway  

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January 27 2003 - Jefferson Davis: American by William Cooper

This was an unusual book for a book club, because it was written by a historian and is not on any best seller lists. However, the leader thought we would like it, and she was correct. It was very long, and several attendees had not read the book, but they came anyway because they were interested in the subject. Those of us who did read it really liked it. It was an objective presentation of the man and his times, and the author did not try to replay the War. It was well written and kept our interest, in spite of the length. Of course, being Southerners, we were all interested in Jefferson Davis, but we realized we didn't know much about him. When you finish this book, you definitely feel like you know him well. We also really liked him as a person. We thought he was the best choice the Confederacy could have made for a President, and that he did a commendable job with what he had to work with. We were also fascinated with Varina, and we want to know what happened to her after her husband died, since that's where the book ends.
~ Casey Hughes

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November 19, 2002 - Sleep No More by Greg Iles ***

Greg Iles' newest novel, Sleep No More, attracted a full house with some mixed reviews.  We were hoping for a visit from this best-selling author, but alas it was not meant to be.  With the setting primarily in Natchez, it made for a very interesting read.  Some felt he was gravitating toward the style of Stephen King and the supernatural.  An ex-lover revealing herself in the body of a very seductive stranger had you searching for a logical reason to explain the appearance of Mallory's character.  Some were turned off by the amount of sex throughout the book.  Then there were those who once again were impressed and intrigued by this very talented writer.  We all agreed it was definitely a page turner and can't wait for the next one. ~ Susan Davis

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June 25, 2002 - Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani ****

We were all enthralled with her variety of characters and found them to be quite believable ,  I guess the over all favorite was Iva Lou. Most everyone loved the book and rated it highly. We had two who did not like it. Most of us are eager to read the sequel; in fact, some already have. We made predictions and it will be interesting to see the outcomes. I'm starting the book this evening and can't wait
~ Leigh Anderson

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May 28, 2002 - The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer ****

A surprisingly lively discussion of Elizabeth Spencer's Light In the Piazza took place on May 28 when the Natchez Women's Book Club met at Cover To Cover; surprising because, at first reading, this book just seemed to be a sweet, simple story. We all immediately agreed that we admired Margaret Johnson, the central character, who shouldered the primary responsibility for the care of her beautiful but mentally deficient daughter.  Casey, our psychologist, emphasized that Spencer's portrayal of the daughter and the parents' reaction to her mental shortcomings was very true to life.  The mother's determination to provide her daughter, Clara, with as normal a life as possible led to a battle of wits between the American, Margaret, and the cold, calculating, but charming Italian, Signor Naccarelli, a confrontation which reminded Joan and Diana of similar struggles in Henry James' novels.     The pervasive imagery of light, sometimes intensely clear and bright, then again hazy and blinding, reflected Margaret Johnson's ambivalent feelings, Carolyn perceptively pointed out.  And the story of the man shot by the cannon played counterpoint to Margaret's own actions.      How did the daughter's life ultimately turn out?  How did Margaret's?  In asking these spontaneous questions at the end of our discussion, we paid Spencer the ultimate compliment.  She had made us care about her characters. 
~ Bev Aldridge

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April 23, 2002 - The Summons by John Grisham ***

Most of us are John Grisham fans and enjoyed the book as typical of him. It was entertaining and kept you wondering how it would end. A few of us are not big fans and contributed our opinions to keep the discussion interesting. The leader of the discussion, Judy Stahlman, brought a John Grisham test for us to take. It was questions about all of his books and was fun to do. Fortunately, we answered in groups, so we did pretty well. What helped was that many of us had read all his books.

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January 22, 2002 - John Adams by David McCullough *****

The turnout at this meeting was tremendous, but there were differences of opinion (as usual!) about why. No one thought the book itself produced the turnout. Most thought it was the Holiday Dinner, but the webmaster was sure that the new website produced the results. The leader loves long, nonfiction books and her selections are sometimes not popular. She is only allowed to select books for January, which allows members two months to read the book, since no book is read in December. Therefore, it was no surprise that many who attended the meeting did not finish the book (all 751 pages!) and you could spot them right away. They had bookmarks showing where they were in the book, and there was immense competition and comparison over how far they had progressed. Surprisingly, many managed to complete it without skipping any pages. Even more surprising, everyone enjoyed the book and was glad they read it. The book is very well written and readable. Although many of us were Abigal Adams fans prior to reading the book, we all became fascinated by and admiring of John Adams afterward. We also saw a different picture of previous idols Jefferson and Franklin, and there was spirited discussion and debate about the various personalities. We learned a lot about the founding of our country and wished all history could be written like this. We were amazed at what these people accomplished, and under what conditions. One member read several quotes from dialogue and letters that illustrated their facile use of the English language. We all loved the information about their everyday lives. We felt like we knew the characters in this book, we were grateful to them for what they did, and we loved most of them.
~ Casey Hughes

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