Wednesday, April 26, 2017

the work of John LeCarré

Upcoming programs:

Thursday, May 11 @ 6:30pm – Neuroscience Café presents: the latest in Alzheimer’s research

Saturday, May 13 @ 2pm – Community Conversation on Aging sponsored by Choice Home Care

Sunday, May 21 @ 3pm – Summer Reading Program kickoff, all ages

Wednesday, May 24 @ 6:30pm – Foreign Film Series presents: A Woman is a Woman

Saturday-Monday, May 27-29 – The Library is closed in observance of Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 30 @ 6:30pm – Genre Reading Group: Documentary Films

This week, GRG met for a discussion of the work of famed espionage author John LeCarré.  LeCarré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell, was born on October 19, 1931 in Dorset, England.  An agent during the Cold War in both MI5 and MI6, he abandoned spycraft after his third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, to focus on his writing full-time and he is still working!

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Hailed everywhere as a masterpiece of suspense, John le Carre's return to Africa is the story of Bruno Salvador (aka Salvo), the 25-year-old orphaned love child of an Irish missionary and a Congolese woman. Quickly rising to the top of his profession as an interpreter, Salvo is dispatched by British Intelligence to a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords, where he hears things not intended for his ears--and is forced to interpret matters never intended for his reawakened African conscience. By turns thriller, love story, and comic allegory of our times, The Mission Song recounts Salvo's heroically naive journey out of the dark of Western hypocrisy and into the heart of lightness.

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On holiday in Mykonos, Charlie wants only sunny days and a brief escape from England’s bourgeois dreariness. Then a handsome stranger lures the aspiring actress away from her pals—but his intentions are far from romantic. Joseph is an Israeli intelligence officer, and Charlie has been wooed to flush out the leader of a Palestinian terrorist group responsible for a string of deadly bombings. Still uncertain of her own allegiances, she debuts in the role of a lifetime as a double agent in the “theatre of the real.” Haunting and deeply atmospheric, John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl is a virtuoso performance and a powerful examination of morality and justice.

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Little Drummer Girl (film) (NOT AVAILABLE IN THE PLJC SYSTEM)
Based on John Le Carré's novel by the same name, this story about Charlie (Diane Keaton) a female double agent working between the Palestinians and Israelis, loses some of the excitement and in-depth characterization engendered by the long novel -- mainly because the novel is hard to capture in a two-hour filmed format. But the action itself carries viewers along as Charlie ends up leaving England and her job as an actress in a Brit repertory company to meet Kurtz (Klaus Kinski) in Greece who recruits her as a spy. Charlie later has to handle her own emotions when she gets romantically involved with her Israeli contact (Yorgo Voyagis), though events move her quickly along to a Palestinian military camp near Beirut. Once she has passed herself off as a reliable Palestinian agent and completed her military training at the camp, she goes to Germany to hunt down a Palestinian terrorist (Sami Frey). Filled with a multitude of characters and locations, not to mention camera shots, the intensity of this story is dissipated somewhat by literally and figuratively covering a lot of territory, though the thread of the story itself is never lost.
Rating: R
Directed By: George Roy Hill
In Theaters: Oct 19, 1984
Runtime: 123 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

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In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants. Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.

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Based on the novel by John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold stars Richard Burton as a dispirited, end-of-tether British secret agent. He comes in from "the cold" (meaning he is pulled out of field operations) to act as a undercover man behind the Iron Curtain. To make his staged defection seem genuine, Burton goes on an alcoholic toot and is imprisoned and publicly humiliated. Once he has been accepted into East German espionage circles, Burton discovers that what he thought was his mission was a mere subterfuge--and that he's been set up as a pawn for an entirely different operation. Though Ireland and England "stand in" for East Berlin, Spy Who Came In From the Cold has the air of authenticity throughout, thanks in great part to the bleak black and white photography by Oswald Morris. The film was condemned as incomprehensible by those filmgoers accustomed to the simplistic melodramatics of James Bond; seen today, the double-crosses and double-double crosses seem all too clear and credible.
Rating: NR
Directed By: Martin Ritt
In Theaters:  Jan 1, 1965
Runtime:  112 minutes
Studio:  Paramount Pictures

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John le Carré, the legendary author of sophisticated spy thrillers, is at the top of his game in this classic novel of a world in chaos. With the Cold War over, a new era of espionage has begun. In the power vacuum left by the Soviet Union, arms dealers and drug smugglers have risen to immense influence and wealth. The sinister master of them all is Richard Onslow Roper, the charming, ruthless Englishman whose operation seems untouchable. Slipping into this maze of peril is Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who’s currently the night manager of a posh hotel in Zurich. Having learned to hate and fear Roper more than any man on earth, Pine is willing to do whatever it takes to help the agents at Whitehall bring him down—and personal vengeance is only part of the reason why.

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Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), a former British soldier turned night manager in a luxury hotel in Cairo, ends up in possession of confidential documents about illegal weapon trades, and turns them into the International Enforcement Agency in London. A few years later, while working in Switzerland, he is recruited by Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), an intelligence officer who's investigating Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie), a corrupt businessman with ties to the secret arms trade. While trying to infiltrate Roper's organization, Pine has to deal with his attraction for Roper's girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), his constant disagreement with Roper's associate Corkoran (Tom Hollander), and the fact that the whole operation is being kept secret from parts of the intelligence agency for fear of being shut down. The spy drama is based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré.
Network: AMC
Premiere Date: Apr 19, 2016

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Tessa Quayle has been horribly murdered on the shores of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya, the birthplace of mankind. Her putative African lover, a doctor with one of the aid agencies, has disappeared. Her husband, Justin, a career diplomat and amateur gardener at the British High Commission in Nairobi, sets out on a personal odyssey in pursuit of the killers and their motive. His quest takes him to the Foreign Office in London, across Europe and Canada and back to Africa, to the depths of South Sudan, and finally to the very spot where Tessa died. On his way Justin meets terror, violence, laughter, conspiracy and knowledge. But his greatest discovery is the woman he barely had time to love.

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When a British diplomat's wife -- a socially-conscious lawyer -- turns up dead in Kenya, he sets out to find the truth surrounding her murder. In the process, he finds out that his wife had been compiling data against a multinational drug company that uses helpless Africans as guinea pigs to test a tuberculosis remedy with unfortunately fatal side effects. Therefore, those who may have had the most reason to silence her are closer to home than he ever imagined.
Rating: R (for language, some violent images and sexual content/nudity)
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles
In Theaters: Aug 31, 2005
Runtime: 128 minutes
Studio: Focus Features

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From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. 

In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he's writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth; visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide; celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command; interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev; listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov; meeting with two former heads of the KGB; watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People; or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humor, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carré gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.

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The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement—especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla—his Moscow Centre nemesis—and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

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Based on the classic novel of the same name, the international thriller is set at the height of the Cold War years of the mid-20th Century. George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government - which fears that the British Secret Intelligence Service, a.k.a. MI-6, has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets. -- (C) Focus Features
Rating: R (for violence, some sexuality/nudity and language)
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
In Theaters: Dec 9, 2011
Runtime: 128 minutes
Studio: Focus Features

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He is Harry Pendel: Exclusive tailor to Panama’s most powerful men. Informant to British Intelligence. The perfect spy in a country rife with corruption and revolution. What his “handlers” don’t realize is that Harry has a hidden agenda of his own. Deceiving his friends, his wife, and practically himself, he’ll weave a plot so fabulous it exceeds his own vivid imagination. But when events start to spin out of control, Harry is suddenly in over his head—thrown into a lethal maze of politics and espionage, with unthinkable consequences. . . 

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The Tailor of Panama (film) (NOT AVAILABLE IN PLJC SYSTEM)
Harry Pendel, a Cockney ex-con who has reinvented himself as a popular tailor to the rich and powerful of Panama, is famous for his storytelling as well as his suits-but this time, his tales carry lethal repercussions. Preyed upon by ruthless, seductive British spy Osnard, Harry spins a yarn that inadvertently sets off a series of events to destroy everything he values most in his life.
Rating: R (for strong sexuality, language and some violence)
Directed By: John Boorman
In Theaters: Mar 30, 2001
Runtime: 110 minutes
Studio:  Columbia Pictures

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An omnibus edition of le Carré's first two novels Call for the Dead (1961) and A Murder of Quality (1962). The omnibus, about George Smiley, was released after his third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963).

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Call For the Dead: George Smiley is no one's idea of a spy—which is perhaps why he's such a natural. But Smiley apparently made a mistake. After a routine security interview, he concluded that the affable Samuel Fennan had nothing to hide. Why, then, did the man from the Foreign Office shoot himself in the head only hours later? Or did he? The heart-stopping tale of intrigue that launched both novelist and spy, Call for the Dead is an essential introduction to le Carré's chillingly amoral universe.

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A Murder of Quality: John le Carré's second novel offers an exquisite, satirical look at an elite private school as it chronicles the early development of George Smiley. Miss Ailsa Brimley is in a quandary. She's received a peculiar letter from Mrs. Stella Rode, saying that she fears her husband—an assistant master at Carne School—is trying to kill her. Reluctant to go to the police, Miss Brimley calls upon her old wartime colleague, George Smiley. Unfortunately, it's too late. Mrs. Rode has just been murdered. As Smiley takes up the investigation, he realizes that in life—as in espionage—nothing is quite what it appears.

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A murder investigation at a cloistered boy's school is the subject of this British made-for-television adaptation of John Le Carre's novel. Le Carre's famous detective-hero George Smiley (Denholm Elliott) returns from retirement to look for answers in a mysterious murder at a boarding school, where secret societies, rituals and abuse are the norm.
Rating: NR
Directed By: Gavin Millar
In Theaters: Jan 1, 1991
Runtime: 103 minutes

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The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given the charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover what Moscow Centre most wants to hide. When the trail goes cold at a Hong Kong gold seam, Smiley dispatches Gerald Westerby to shake the money tree. A part-time operative with cover as a philandering journalist, Westerby insinuates himself into a war-torn world where allegiances—and lives—are bought and sold. Brilliantly plotted and morally complex, The Honourable Schoolboy is the second installment of John le Carré's renowned Karla triology and a riveting portrayal of postcolonial espionage.

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A very junior agent answers Vladimir’s call, but it could have been the Chief of the Circus himself. No one at the British Secret Service considers the old spy to be anything except a senile has-been who can’t give up the game—until he’s shot in the face at point-blank range. Although George Smiley (code name: Max) is officially retired, he’s summoned to identify the body now bearing Moscow Centre’s bloody imprimatur. As he works to unearth his friend’s fatal secrets, Smiley heads inexorably toward one final reckoning with Karla—his dark “grail.” In Smiley’s People, master storyteller and New York Times bestselling author of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Our Kind of Traitor John le Carré brings his acclaimed Karla Trilogy, to its unforgettable, spellbinding conclusion.

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Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend—and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father’s death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus? In A Perfect Spy, John le Carré has crafted one of his crowning masterpieces, interweaving a moving and unusual coming-of-age story with a morally tangled chronicle of modern espionage.

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This spy outing hones in on secret agent Magnus Pym (Peter Egan). Having impersonated so many different people during his career as a British spy, Pym eventually lost track of who he really was -- a confusion compounded by the fact that he knew nothing of his actual past. Ultimately feeling that he could trust no one -- not even his so-called friends -- Pym turned his back on the British and began trading secrets with the Enemy. Filmed on location in England, Europe, and the U.S., the seven-episode A Perfect Spy originally aired in the U.K. in 1988. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Rating: NR
On DVD: Sep 25, 2000
Runtime: 390 minutes

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A corporate lawyer from the House of Single & Single is shot dead in cold blood on a Turkish hillside. A children's entertainer in Devon is hauled to his local bank late at night to explain a monumental influx of cash. A Russian freighter is arrested in the Black Sea. A celebrated London financier has disappeared into thin air. A British customs officer is on a trail of corruption and murder. The logical connection of these events is one of the many pleasures of this extraordinary new novel of love, deceit and the triumph of humanity. Single & Single is a thrilling journey of the human heart - intimate, magical and riotous, revealing le Carre at the height of his dramatic and creative powers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Victorian Age

Upcoming events:

3/30 – Bib & Tucker Sew Op, 6:30pm

4/9 – Local Author Stephen Russell, 2pm

4/13 – Neuroscience Café: Autism, 6:30pm

4/14 & 28 – Ages 21+ only and registration is required, $10 for the 2 sessions, Standing Room Only: Weaving with The Ivory Hand, 6:30pm

4/25 – next GRG, John Le Carré Author Study, 6:30pm

4/29 – An appraisal even benefitting the Friends of the Library, Antiques Roadshow appraiser John Jones and other guest appraisers available to value up to 3 items per ticket holder, no jewelry.  Tickets are $25 and available at the 2nd floor reference desk.  Tickets are for 30 minute increments 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm and times are nontransferable.

For more information about any of these programs, give us a call at 205-445-1121!

The Genre Reading Group met this week to discuss the Victorian Age.  April’s topic will be a John Le Carré author study.  Read/listen to/watch any John Le Carré book/audiobook/movie and come tell us about it!

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Compelling pictorial archive of 264 vintage photographs, selected from rare tintypes and other authentic materials (1850s–1910), depict little girls in their mothers' hats and clothes, sisters wearing identical plaid dresses and button boots, a young man in an everyday suit and bowler hat, a boy dressed in Little Lord Fauntleroy style, and scores of others.

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Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named “Ada,” after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century’s version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why?

Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer.

In Ada Lovelace, James Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace’s contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications.

It’s a remarkable tale, starting with the outrageous behavior of her father, which made Ada instantly famous upon birth. Ada would go on to overcome numerous obstacles to obtain a level of education typically forbidden to women of her day. She would eventually join forces with Charles Babbage, generally credited with inventing the computer, although as Essinger makes clear, Babbage couldn’t have done it without Lovelace. Indeed, Lovelace wrote what is today considered the world’s first computer program—despite opposition that the principles of science were “beyond the strength of a woman’s physical power of application.”

Based on ten years of research and filled with fascinating characters and observations of the period, not to mention numerous illustrations, Essinger tells Ada’s fascinating story in unprecedented detail to absorbing and inspiring effect.

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Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend star in the lavish historical drama, The Young Victoria. Resolved to establish her authority over those who rule in her stead, a young and inexperienced Queen Victoria (Blunt) draws strength from the love of Albert (Friend), the handsome prince who’s stolen her heart. Based on the courtship and early reign of England’s longest-serving monarch, The Young Victoria, is a majestic tale of romance, intrigue and power.

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Nine recipes serve as entry points for detailing the history of food production, cooking, and diet throughout Queen Victoria's reign in England. More than that, however, Broomfield offers an introduction to the world of everyday dining, food preparation, and nutrition during one of the most interesting periods of English history. Food procurement, kitchen duties, and dining conventions were almost always dictated by one's socioeconomic status and one's gender, but questions still remain. Who was most likely to dine out? Who was most likely to be in charge of the family flatware and fine china? Who washed the dishes? Who could afford a fine piece of meat once a week, once a month, or never? How much did one's profession dictate which meal times were observed and when? All these questions and more are answered in this illuminating history of food and cooking in Victorian England.

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Myers's discovery of a packet of letters in a rare books shop in London planted the seeds for this fascinating biography, which reconstructs the remarkable life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta. In 1850, orphaned and held as a captive by the Dahomans in West Africa, an Egbado princess faces imminent death as part of a Dahomian sacrificial rite. When Frederick E. Forbes, captain of the British ship Bonetta and a strong opponent to the slave trade, begs that she be spared, Dahomian King Gezo offers her as a gift to Queen Victoria. Under Forbes's protection, the princess is baptized Sarah Forbes Bonetta and escorted to England; Forbes presents her to the queen, who takes an avid interest in her and provides for her education and upbringing. From the princess's life in an England far from her native shores, filled with frequent visits to the queen and royal family, to her education as a young woman of privilege at a missionary school in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to her eventual arranged marriage and early death from consumption, Myers portrays a young woman who never truly belongs. Despite her celebrity, education and proximity to royalty, Sarah remains subject to the prescribed roles for women in her day and to the queen's will--even concerning her marriage--because she possesses no independent financial means; thus the title takes on a somber double entendre. Myers sets Sarah's story within the context of daily life and culture in England, Britain's attitudes toward Africa and slavery and the growing unrest across the Atlantic that would result in the Civil War. Period etchings and photographs, many from the author's own collection, contribute to this moving and very human portrait of a princess. Ages 9-12.

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A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell, edited by Georgina Howell
A portrait in her own words of the female Lawrence of Arabia, the subject of the major motion picture Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, and Robert Pattinson and directed by Werner Herzog, and of the documentary Letters from Baghdad, voiced by Tilda Swinton

Gertrude Bell was leaning in 100 years before Sheryl Sandberg. One of the great woman adventurers of the twentieth century, she turned her back on Victorian society to study at Oxford and travel the world, and became the chief architect of British policy in the Middle East after World War I. Mountaineer, archaeologist, Arabist, writer, poet, linguist, and spy, she dedicated her life to championing the Arab cause and was instrumental in drawing the borders that define today’s Middle East.

As she wrote in one of her letters, “It’s a bore being a woman when you are in Arabia.” Forthright and spirited, opinionated and playful, and deeply instructive about the Arab world, this volume brings together Bell’s letters, military dispatches, diary entries, and travel writings to offer an intimate look at a woman who shaped nations.

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Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely nearsighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colorful clothes, Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was nonetheless a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women—and avidly read by generations of readers. Peter Ackroyd follows his hero, "the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists," from Collins' childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as a writer, his years of fame, and his lifelong friendship with that other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. In addition to his enduring masterpieces, The Moonstone—often called the first true detective novel—and the sensational The Woman in White, he produced an intriguing array of lesser known works. Told with Ackroyd's inimitable verve, this is a ravishingly entertaining life of a great storyteller, full of surprises, rich in humor and sympathetic understanding.

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Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his "charming" friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison.

Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

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The Duchess of York (Prince Andrew's wife, ``Fergie'') writes about England's 19th-century rulers not as historical figures but as a loving couple and caring parents. Aided by Stoney, a professional researcher, the author gleaned quotes from journals kept by Victoria during her long reign (1837-1901). Such excerpts strengthen this account of how the queen and her beloved consort created a vibrant family life for their nine children despite the pressures of their public roles. As in other vital areas, Albert took the lead here, finding Osborne House on the Isle of Wight which became the family home. There the royals spent as much time as possible, away from the strains of court, enjoying close companionship in the bracing bucolic air. This virtually ideal life was cut short in 1861 by Albert's death at age 41. Although devastated by her loss, Victoria continued to rule until her death 40 years later. This well-written book, telling us much more than has heretofore been known about Prince Albert and his many accomplishments, will have great appeal to a wide audience. 

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Learn the extraordinary story of how, against all odds, the famous literary trio had their genius for writing romantic novels recognized in a male-dominated 19th-century world.

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The Victorian Undertaker by Trevor May (not available in the PLJC system)

The Victorians were, were relatively at ease with death and there is much in this book to interest social historians, those interested in historical costume and transport enthusiasts, as there is a section on the development of the horse-drawn hearse.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

biographical fiction

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion will be the Victorian age.  If you didn’t get a chance to pick a book yet, there’s a great display out at the 2nd floor reference desk! 

We have several great programs coming up soon and  I hope you have room for them on your social calendar!

Friends Booksale Preview Party
Thursday, February 23, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Wine and Cheese
Friends Members Only

Friends Booksale open to the public:

Friday, February 24, 10a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, 10a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 26, 1p.m. to 4p.m.
Basement books: $10/bag on Sunday
Upstairs books: Half price on Sunday

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Disney Vacation Planning
Sunday, March 5th 2:00 p.m.
Local resident and Disney travel agent Lisa Cross will visit this afternoon with a presentation on planning a Disney vacation. We will learn the ins and outs of making hotel, park, and meal reservations.

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UAB NEUROSCIENCE CAFÉ
Substance Abuse & Addiction: Thursday, March 9  6:30pm
Join us for this partnership with UAB's Comprehensive Neuroscience Center.

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Retirement Party
Library Director Sue DeBrecht is retiring!  Celebrate with her on Sunday, March 12, from 2 to 4 pm.

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STANDING ROOM ONLY PRESENTS: AN EVENING WITH THE AUTHOR PATRICK DEWITT
Saturday, March 18 7:00pm
$20, Tickets available for purchase Feb. 1 at the Library or online.
Click here to purchase tickets online.
Join us for an evening with Patrick deWitt, acclaimed author of The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor.

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An Evening With The Author: Marian Blumenthal Lazan
Wednesday, March 22 6:30pm

The Emmet O’Neal Library is pleased to announce an Evening With the Author event with Marian Blumenthal Lazan, best-selling author of Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story. Please join us for this rare opportunity to hear a survivor share her compelling Holocaust experience, as well as her life lessons learned. Mrs. Lazan will discuss her memoir, Four Perfect Pebbles, co-written with Lila Perl. The book will be available for purchase and gladly signed by Mrs. Lazan. 

Ms. Lazan will speak at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Meeting Room.  Tickets are required, but the event is free. Please call the Emmet O’Neal Library Adult Department for more information or for tickets at 205-445-1121.

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Bib & Tucker Sew Op quilting event
Thursday, March 30 6:30pm
Bib & Tucker Sew-Op will host an open sewing session at Emmet O’Neal Library this month as part of year three of The March Quilts: a community art project. This year's theme is the 50th anniversary of the Loving V. Virginia Supreme Court ruling that knocked down Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws in response to the marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving. Facilitators will be on hand to help make quilt blocks and no sewing experience is necessary. For more information about the project, visit www.bibandtuckersewop.org/the-march-quilts.html or www.facebook.com/themarchquilts.

This week, GRG met to discuss biographical fiction, which are novels featuring fictional accounts of real people and/or events.

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The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A thrilling novel based on actual events, about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America—from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and author of The Sherlockian

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING EDDIE REDMAYNE

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

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Based on the true story of Matt Bondurant's grandfather and two granduncles, The Wettest County in the World is a gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder. The Bondurant Boys were a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who ran liquor through Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and in the years after. Forrest, the eldest brother, is fierce, mythically indestructible, and the consummate businessman; Howard, the middle brother, is an ox of a man besieged by the horrors he witnessed in the Great War; and Jack, the youngest, has a taste for luxury and a dream to get out of Franklin. Driven and haunted, these men forge a business, fall in love, and struggle to stay afloat as they watch their family die, their father's business fail, and the world they know crumble beneath the Depression and drought.

White mule, white lightning, firewater, popskull, wild cat, stump whiskey, or rotgut -- whatever you called it, Franklin County was awash in moonshine in the 1920s. When Sherwood Anderson, the journalist and author of Winesburg, Ohio, was covering a story there, he christened it the "wettest county in the world." In the twilight of his career, Anderson finds himself driving along dusty red roads trying to find the Bondurant brothers, piece together the clues linking them to "The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy," and break open the silence that shrouds Franklin County.
In vivid, muscular prose, Matt Bondurant brings these men -- their dark deeds, their long silences, their deep desires -- to life. His understanding of the passion, violence, and desperation at the center of this world is both heartbreaking and magnificent.

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Lawless (DVD)
Director John Hillcoat and writer-musician Nick Cave made a brutal, brilliant splash with The Proposition, a revisionist Outback Western that quickly tore away any lingering notions of frontier romanticism. Lawless, the duo's take on another turbulent period of history--namely, the bloodiest years of America's Prohibition--eases up on the unrelenting grimness a bit, but the hard edges still shine through. Adapted from the historical novel The Wettest County in the World, by Matt Bondurant, Cave's script follows three Virginia brothers determined to continue their family's legacy of providing quality moonshine to their faithful customers (including members of local law enforcement) during the Great Depression. While the youngest brother (Shia LaBeouf) attempts to gain the business of a feared local mobster (Gary Oldman), the three find themselves under assault from a ruthless federal agent (Guy Pearce) with a sadistic agenda of his own. Hillcoat, working with cinematographer Benoît Delhomme, delivers a fantastically realized period piece, one where the folksy, lived-in atmosphere is randomly dispelled by moments of shockingly raw savagery. Unfortunately, the attention to detail doesn't quite extend itself to LaBeouf's character, whose motivations and actions feel strangely half-baked throughout. Still, even if the main storyline occasionally falters, the film offers plenty to recommend itself, including Cave's ominously cheery score, small but vivid turns by Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, and the gloriously weird Pearce, who starts his performance somewhere in the outer stratosphere and just keeps heading upwards. The main draw of Lawless, however, ultimately comes from Tom Hardy, who goes all out and then some as the enforcer and reluctant father figure of the family. Clad in incongruously mellow cardigans and mumbling like a cartoon sailor man, he's a Terminator for the ages. When it comes to his performance, White Lightning hardly covers it. --Andrew Wright

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN"
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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The revolution came when we weren't looking. It happened in a garage. In a dorm room. In countless hours of effort, imagining and intrigue. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were changing the way the world works, lives and communicates. The event-packed saga of the quirky visionaries who jump-started the future unfolds with exhilarating, cutting-edge style in Pirates of Silicon Valley. Noah Wyle (ER) portrays Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone) portrays Gates in this chronicle of the fierce and often humorous battle to rule the fledgling personal computer empire. "The story is almost Shakespearean... it's a tale of lust, greed, ambition, love and hate," writer/director Martyn Burke reflects. And it's a success story unlike any other.

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Steve Jobs (DVD)
Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. Steve Jobs is directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple founder. The producers are Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady of Film 360, Scott Rudin, Boyle and Academy Award winner Christian Colson. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The film also stars Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Apple Macintosh development team.

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This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves The Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

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Quest for Fire is so detailed in its depiction of prehistoric man that it might have been made by time-traveling filmmakers. Instead it's a bold and timeless experiment by visionary director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear), inviting scientific debate while presenting a fascinating, imaginary glimpse of humankind some 80,000 years ago. Using diverse locations in Kenya, Scotland, and Canada, Annaud tells the purely visual story of five tribes (some more advanced than others) who depend on fire for survival. They "steal" fire from nature, but the actual creation of fire remains elusive, lending profound mystery and majesty to the film's climactic, real-time display of fire-making ingenuity. Employing primitive language created by novelist Anthony Burgess and body language choreographed by anthropologist Desmond Morris, a unique ensemble of actors push the envelope of their profession, succeeding where they easily could've failed. They're carnal, violent, funny, curious, and intelligent; through them, and through the eons, we can recognize ourselves. --Jeff Shannon

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Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

People’s Book of the Week • USA Today’s #1 “New and Noteworthy” Book • Entertainment Weekly’s Must List • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

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The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
In the spirit of Loving Frank and The ParisWife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“The history [is] exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars.”—USA Today

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

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Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
“[A] haunting and beautifully atmospheric novel...brilliantly brings Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to life in all their doomed beauty, with compelling and unforgettable results.”—Alex George, author of Setting Free the Kites

From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.

When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended...

GENERAL DISCUSSION:
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Z: The Beginning of Everything (streaming on Amazon Prime)
"Z: The Beginning of Everything" tells the story of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful Southern Belle who became the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age.”

According to nameberry.com:  Meaning of Zelda: "gray fighting maid" Origin of Zelda: Diminutive of Griselda Meaning of Griselda: "grey battle" Origin of Griselda: German

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.