Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Great House

Great evening at Chez Jefe, um, week before last.  We started off with an epic cheese and charcuterie assortment, followed by chicken picatta, these lishy, creamy, golden rosemary polenta triangles, and roasted asparagus topped with reggiano parmigiano.  Then for dessert, a chocolate cream cake worth its weight in gold (literally) that could have served our book club for three months' worth of meetings.  Lish!

The enthusiasm for the book, Nicole Krauss' The Great House, was palpable.  El Jefe could tell because out of the 6 people in attendance 4 had bought the book and 0 finished it.  The rating was 7, boosted by La Mademoiselle's high ball score of 9. 

The biggest complaint was that the story had gotten off to a slow start, there were a lot of characters--all of whom were miserable wretches, and it was hard to see what one story had to do with the next.  Luckily, we had the Highlander with us, who actually had created a Venn diagram and family tree to show how the characters and stories were interconnected.  It had certainly gone over El Jefe's head that Daniel Varsky was the long lost son of the English professor, and that his daughter was the twin in the story at the boarding school.  Given the popularity of this book and the clear sophistication of the author, surely there is a master plan--as yet undiscovered on page 150--by which all of these stories come together in the end.  Despite its slowness, The Great House was filled with compelling characters, whose emotional failings were rendered by the author in heartbreaking tenderness and detail.  As El Jefe remarked, the author's intuition and understanding of the human condition seemed to be way beyond her years, as she could get inside the minds of a college student suffering from depression, an aging, estranged Israeli father, and a middle-aged divorced writer in Manhattan with equal credibility.  There will be a payoff at the end of this book for those with patience, so we can talk to those people and find out what it is.
Our next meeting is at Logan's Run's house, on Wednesday, March 2.  Ms. K. is bringing dessert and the Doctor apps.  And everyone else is bringing a completely read copy of Love or Something Like It, by Dierdre Shaw.  Happy Valentine's Day!

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