Novelists, poets, historians, biographers, and more — we bring both new authors and old favorites to talk with you about their latest books. We also host book groups and celebrate new releases and other special occasions.
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Wednesday, May 31, noon: The Bookaholics will discuss Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabo.
Iza’s Ballad is a striking story of the relationship between a mother and a daughter. Ettie, the mother, is old and from an older world than the rapidly modernizing Communist Hungary of the years after World War II. From a poor family and without formal education, Ettie has devoted her life to the cause of her husband, Vince, a courageous magistrate who had been blacklisted for political reasons before the war. Iza, their daughter, is as brave and conscientious as her father: Active in the resistance against the Nazis, she is now a doctor and a force for progress. Iza lives and works in Budapest, and when Vince dies, she is quick to bring Ettie to the city to make sure her mother is close and can be cared for. She means to do everything right, and Ettie is eager to do everything to the satisfaction of the daughter she is so proud of. But good intentions aside, mother and daughter come from two different worlds and have different ideas of what it means to lead a good life. Though they struggle to accommodate each other, increasingly they misunderstand and hurt each other, and the distance between them widens into an abyss.
Wednesday, June 28, noon: The Bookaholics will discuss Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.
In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller remembers her African childhood with visceral authenticity. The book is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, but it is also suffused with her endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Her story is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
From 1972 to 1990, Fuller — known to friends and family as Bobo — grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.
Fuller writes poignantly about a girl becoming a woman and a writer against a backdrop of unrest, not just in her country but in her home. But this is more than a survivor’s story. It is the story of one woman’s unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt.
Thursday, June 29, 6 p.m.: Mary Alice Monroe will read from and sign copies of her newest novel, Beach House for Rent.
When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.
It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds — and the man who rescues them — begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love. At the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.
Like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.