Friday, January 26, 2007

Book Club Happenings

I attended two different book club meetings this week. On Tuesday, our newly-formed church women's group book club had its third meeting. We met for the first time in October and discussed Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In November we read The Five People You Meet in Heaven. This week we discussed The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

I read The Secret Life of Bees for the first time in mid-2005, and then I listened to it on CD last summer. I didn't read it again this month, but I did think some about some of the themes and the reasons why I love this book so much. Here are three questions I'll throw out for potential discussion:

  • The novel is set in 1964 against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. What do you think Sue Monk Kidd is saying about race in this novel? What are the ways the characters in the novel confront injustice? How do you think we should deal with injustice?

  • Many women in our society are isolated from other women. Why is it important that women come together? How did being in the company of a circle of females transform Lily?

  • The women in the pink house drew consolation and power from the Black Madonna. Do you know women whose lives have been deepened or enriched by a connetion to an empowering Divine Mother?
This is my favorite passage from the book:

"You know, some things don't matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person's heart - now, that matters. The whole problem with people is -"

"They don't know what matters and what doesn't," I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.

"I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don't choose it. You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still so hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters."

On Thursday I attended a neighborhood book club. I had a meeting at the office that ran long, so I was an hour late getting to the book club, but I hadn't made it to this particular group for nearly a year, so I went anyway. The book pick was The Kite Runner, which I read for another book group in October. In general, this group spends less time discussing the books we read than other groups I meet with, and, unfortunately, by the time I got to the host's home, they'd left the book behind. I did have a nice time meeting some women who'd joined the group since I was last there, as well as touching base with some I hadn't seen for months and eating some fruit and chips with avocado dip, but I'd truly rather talk about the book than most other things. As we were leaving, I did get the idea that many of the group members found the book too depressing for their taste - which saddens me because I really see it as a tale of redemption. If you've read it, I'd love to hear what you thought.


  1. I just found this site. Yay! :)

  2. I read The Secret Life of Bees when it first came out and really enjoyed the atmosphere that was created in this book. It was almost tangible. Like somehow a secret place in time had puddled here and you could just step in to it. I don't agree with the whole Madonna/Divine Mother thing, but I loved the book enough to give it to my then twelve-year-old daughter to read. Her name is Lily, too. :)