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23 Jun 2020. Since our last book discussions had been virtual ones, it was a special treat to be able to actually get together this past June. There was still a virtual flavor to things as Katie, an active past TIC member who relocated to LA, California 7 years ago, had heard about our Book Discussion evening, read the book, and joined us as well. So the laptop was open on one end of the table which was very fun!! The weather was beautiful so we sat outside in our back garden and enjoyed the scenery as well. Since the weather was warm, we skipped the hot tea and opted for ice cream…always a good choice!
The book had been suggested by Kelly who was unfortunately unable to attend, but she sent discussion questions and admitted she hadn’t liked the book. Actually, she thought it was terrible!
Although we didn’t totally agree with her, there were a number of aspects we didn’t like about the book. There was so much emphasis on clothes – what each character wore was minutely explained; actions were often over explained – she picked up the coffee cup, she drank some coffee; and the characters were quite flat in general. There were also things whose significance we kept thinking would be explained later, but never were, such as the 3 clocks with different times hanging in the café.
In spite of all that however, it was an interesting book with an interesting premise. Would you go back in time if you could not change anything that had happened? The book focused on 4 different relationships: lovers, husband & wife, sisters and Mother & child and the exchanges these characters had was often very emotional. A wife going back to meet the husband who does not remember her, in the early stages of his Alzheimer’s; a woman going back to meet her sister prior to her death in a car crash, and a Mother and daughter who never met traveling to the past and future to meet. These were emotional encounters and ended up changing lives even though they could not change circumstances.
The book seemed almost better suited as a screenplay and it has indeed been made into a movie. Maybe in the next club year we can find it and see how this unusual story works as a film…
Knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau
Ridder van de Orde van Oranje Nassau
Anne van Oorschot is one the founding members of the tilburg international club.
She established the club in 2008 and served as its first president for 6 years.
She recently received a decoration from the Royal House of the Netherlands (Ridder van de Orde van Oranje Nassau) in April 2020!
What is the Ridder van de Orde van Oranje Nassau?
The order is a chivalric order open to “everyone who has earned special merits for society”. These are people who deserve appreciation and recognition from society for the special way in which they have carried out their activities.
Anne’s many years of contributing to Dutch Society
Anne was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. She moved to The Netherlands in 1981 and married Hein van Oorschot in 1982. She became a Dutch citizenship in 2003. They have 3 children (all in their 30’s) and Anne took up many volunteer jobs which led to the Royal recognition. (more…)
by Anne van Oorschot.
08 October 2020. With the Netherlands adopting stricter Corona rules – 3 guests per household – having our regular book discussion gathering was impossible. Fortunately, there are numerous online meeting platforms that make holding a virtual meeting easy to arrange and attend and I was happy to have a total of 9 attend our evening on October 8th. Two of those who attended were new to our small group and, while they hadn’t read the book, they wanted to get a feel for how our discussion evenings go.
While everyone was positive about the book, the intricacies of Kingsolver’s language, while nice once you got used to it, were initially challenging for those who were non-native English speakers. We saw similarities between the butterflies and Dellarobia, the main character, with her flame colored hair and her sense of being lost in her own life. It was interesting to see her change throughout the book: no more vanity so the needed glasses were always on, stop smoking, venturing out of her comfort zone to work with the scientists and finally taking charge of her life by setting a new course closer to her true desires for herself. We reflected on the pre-conceived notions both the area residents and the scientists had of each other. People the world over do the same thing, making it hard for differing groups to really see and understand each other.
Kingsolver, who was trained as a scientist before becoming an author, poses a lot of challenging ideas about climate change in the book. While the habits and behavior of the Monarch Butterflies described in the book is accurate, their unexplained landing in the Appalachian area rather than their usual spot in Mexico was made up. (It gave the author the opportunity to set the novel in an area she is familiar with.) However, the changes occurring in the butterflies normal roost area were accurate and pose questions about what effect a changing climate has on the fragile life cycle of Monarchs.
Another point as how can 2 groups look at information and come up with such different conclusions? Dellarobia felt that the realities of climate change were simply too far from her daily worries and explains that her work is, “meeting the bus on time…getting the kids to eat supper, getting teeth brushed. No cavities next time. Little hopes, you know? There’s just not room at our house for the end of the world.”
This thinking also illustrates the difference in the carbon footprint between the poor and those more well off. When a man comes to the Butterfly sight to get others to sign a sustainability pledge to reduce their carbon footprint, he reads off the questions/goals to Dellarobia and is stunned to learn that the majority of them don’t apply:
“Number one. Bring your own Tupperware to a restaurant for leftovers, as often as possible.”
“I’ve not eaten in a restaurant in over two years.
“Okay, number two. Try bringing your own mug for tea or coffee. Does not apply, I guess. Carry your own Nalgene bottle instead of buying bottled water.”
“Our well water is good. We wouldn’t pay for store-bought. Is that it?” she asked.
“No. There are five other categories.”
“Let’s hear them…. You came all this way. To get us on board.”
“Okay – Everyday Necessities. Try your best to buy reused. Use Craigslist.” “What is that?” she asked, although she had a pretty good idea.
“Craigslist,” he said. “On the internet.”
“I don’t have a computer.”
“Or find your local reuse stores.”
“Find them,” she said.
“Switch some of your stocks and mutual funds to socially responsible investments, skip, skip. Okay, Home-slash-office. Make sure old computers get recycled. Turn your monitor off when not in use. I think we’ve got a lot of not applicable here.” ….. “Okay, this is the last one,” he said. “Fly less.”
“Fly less,” she repeated.
The book gave us all a lot to think about and was an enjoyable read as well. We can certainly recommend it for reading in these stay-at-home-corona-times.
by Essi Koskela
27 Aug 2020. tíc book club’s summer reading Not before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo is a reimagined story from a classic Finnish song, The Goblin and the Ray of Light.
We started our discussion session by listening to this sweet and melodic piece, before we immersed ourselves into the darker themes portrayed in the book. is a dark satire of Mikael, or Angel, a freelance photographer working in advertising, who adopts a young, abandoned troll from the streets of Tampere city. It turns out that trolls do not make good pets. Pessi, the troll, secretes intoxicating pheromones which produce an insidious effect on Mikael and everyone around him. The symbolism behind the power-battle of Pessi‘s influence and the civilized world around Mikael made an excellent discussion point, as Mikael starts to struggle with the beast within. With the words of the author herself: ‘the book deals with themes bigger than life: the relationship between man and nature; the problems of different kinds of otherness; and how our biological ancestry as hierarchical pack animals still affects us.’
Although the book is classified into science fiction or fantasy, only the existence of the endangered and rarely seen trolls separates the world in the story from reality. In fact, the writer has constructed such convincing pseudo-scientific biological origin for the troll species accompanied with numerous (real) references to Finnish literature and folklore about the trolls that it was easy to believe in the existence of trolls. Arguably trolls have been very much real in the Finnish way of life before modern civilisation finally reached all the far corners of wilderness in the country, and remnants of those beliefs are still reflected in the language and children’s imagination. One of Sinisalo’s reference books, “Memories from Lapland” by Samuli Paulaharju, from 1922, which I happened to have by chance, dedicates a whole chapter to trolls. From this book, I shared the divine origin story of trolls, fabricated in the typical half-pagan way of the Finns. As it turns out, trolls are the secret children of Adam and Eve, which God condemned to live underground after Eve wrongfully hid them.
The creation aside, religion is another prominent topic in the book, already given away by the heavenly name of Angel. I dare to say, the writer creates a juxtaposition between chaste protestant tradition and the biological beastly nature of human beings. We were not sure what to make out of this, as the story does not seem to resolve in favor of the other. Although in the case of Mikael, nature takes over.
Those of us who had completed the book agreed that it was an odd but delightful reading experience. Deceptively short with only 214 pages, Sinisalo’s story seemed to contain yet another layer in chapters unwritten. What happened to Mikael in the end? Why did the trolls take him among them? Was Palomita (the human-trafficked mail-order wife of Mikael’s neighbor) rescued? And most importantly, are trolls real and where can we find them?