Senior Book Break

August 8, 2023

Subject: A Classic

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, who wrote under the pseudonym Acton Bell

Anne was the youngest and least prolific of the Bronte sisters. Much of her work was autobiographical. This novel is about a young woman, age 19, who becomes a governess/teacher to a rich family.  Unfortunately, she was passive allowing her charges to do as they wished. She worked for two families until her father died, and she and her mother started a school. It is also the tale of how she met and married a curate of a church. Our reader enjoyed the fact that the last chapter was titled “Conclusion” and the last sentence in the book was: ”And now I think I have said sufficient.”

This book is available in the Classic section of the Grover Beach Community Library

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie Gordon was abandoned because his IQ was 70 and his mother could not handle it. Algernon was a laboratory mouse that had brain surgery that increased his intelligence.  Charlie had no family and agreed to have the same surgery.  In 90 days his IQ went from 70 to 187.  Unfortunately, his social skills were not at the same level. Charlie and Algernon were rivals in solving a maze. This is the story of their friendship and Charlie finding his old “personality” inside himself with the resulting turmoil.  No one knew how long the results of the surgery would last.

Moll Flanders by Danial Defoe

Moll was born in a prison. She grew up as a fun-loving person who always wanted good circumstances, but her life didn’t turn out that way. She lived on the edge and was finally sent to the New World as punishment. There she met her mother; however, it was not a good relationship.

Discuss was in time of high crime, which often was a survival instinct, sending a person away was not unusual.

This book is available in the Classic section of the Grover Beach Community Library

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

This book shows us how to write by showing us how to read. It shows the difference between memoir writing and novel writing. The reporter was at a loss to describe what our reader said and copied the following from Amazon’s description of the book.

“All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the ‘I’ who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.”

The Plague by Albert Camus

Written in 1948 about the terrible plague, aka Black Death that decimated the population in 1347. Symptoms shifted and there were later epidemics also. Deaths were so numerous that hospitals were unable to cope.  Bodies were piled in the streets and mass graves were common. A well written descriptive book.

This book is available in the Classic section of the Grover Beach Community Library

Discussion compared it to COVID, Would there be repeated outbreaks? A case of bubonic plague is reported, though not in large outbreaks, thanks to modern medicine and the knowledge of the cause of the virus.

-Fran Strauser