Welcome to February. We’re officially finished with Middlemarch, and it’s time for a new book. That said, if you’re still on Middlemarch and you want to keep reading, keep reading! I can schedule some open all-book reading discussions later.
What did I think of Middlemarch? Well, I liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite. I have a difficult time making connections with characters when there are so many of them. I would have loved a more central narrator to ground everyone’s story. Even though we did have a strong narrator with Middlemarch, she didn’t come forward as a character like some of us wanted her to. But that’s fine.
So why am I sharing that I didn’t really like the book? Well, I’d like to give this book club an atmosphere of freedom. I’ve been a part of too many reading groups where it seemed like we were required to like every book we read to qualify as book lovers. But that’s total nonsense. So at Doorstopper, I encourage you to share how you really feel about the books we read as long as you aren’t attacking people who enjoyed the books. You all have been doing a good job with that already. Keep being yourselves, and don’t feel like you need to be sunny and positive if you want to participate. One of the beauties of reading classics is that we can share our opinions without the writer hunting us down on social media.
I’ll circle back to the older discussions soon to make sure I responded to everyone. Now, to our February read!
Our February book is Jubilee by Margaret Walker.
Several people have described Jubilee to me as an antidote to Gone with the Wind. Walker, who passed away in 1998, was a scholar of black history and culture, in other words, exactly the person to tell an important story that has frequently been co-opted and romanticized.
Here’s a description:
“Jubilee tells the true story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress. Vyry bears witness to the South’s antebellum opulence and to its brutality, its wartime ruin, and the promises of Reconstruction. Weaving her own family’s oral history with thirty years of research, Margaret Walker’s novel brings the everyday experiences of slaves to light. Jubilee churns with the hunger, the hymns, the struggles, and the very breath of American history.”
Even though the subject matter is heavy, Walker’s prose and storytelling deliver this historical moment in a lighter package, making Jubilee a much-needed respite after Middlemarch.
Jubilee is on sale on Amazon for $2.99. Get it here.
Our first discussion on Jubilee will be this coming Saturday. This time, I’d like to do it a bit differently. As you’re reading, think of a question you’d like to ask the group. It can be something you don’t know about the text, or it can act as a conversation starter to introduce something you’d like to talk about.
As always, thanks for reading with me.