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What Members Read

At nearly every meeting the conversation turns to "Have you read......?"  By the time I get home from the meeting I've forgotten the name of the book or author.  With that in mind I've asked members to share their reading recommendations.  To get this started I've listed a few books.  The descriptions are copied from the Amazon web site, just because that was an easy way to get the information.   These books should be available from the vendor of your choice or your local library.  Here are the books listed in no particular order:

DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE: A NOVEL byIsabel Allende

An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849.  Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi'en.  California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey.  By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.


ALICE: ALICE ROOSEVELT LONGWORTH, FROM WHITE HOUSE PRINCESS TO WASHINGTON POWER BROKER by Stacy A. Cordery

From the moment Teddy Roosevelt's outrageous and charming teenage daughter strode into the White House carrying a snake and dangling a cigarette the outspoken Alice began to put her imprint on the whole of the twentieth-century political scene.  Her barbed tongue was as infamous as her scandalous personal life, but whenever she talked, powerful people listened, and she reigned for eight decades as the social doyenne in a town where socializing was state business.  Historian Stacy Cordery's unprecedented access to personal papers and family archives enlivens and informs this richly entertaining portrait of America's most memorable first daughter and one of the most influential women in twentieth-century American society and politics.


MRS. LINCOLN'S DRESSMAKER by Jennifer Chiaverini

Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the extraordinary friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Hobb Keckley, a former slave who won her freedom by the skill of her needle, and the friendship of the First Lady by her devotion.   Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.


LIFE IN A JAR: THE IRENA SENDLER PROJECT by Jack Mayer

During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto.  Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years.  Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in southeast Kansas stumbled upon a tantalizing reference to Sendler's rescues, which they fashioned into a history project, a play they call Life in a Jar.   Their innocent drama was first seen in Kansas, then the Midwest, then New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, and finally Poland, where they elevated Irena Sendler to a national hero, championing her legacy of tolerance and respect for all people.  Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project is a Holocaust history and more.  It is the inspirational story of Protestant students from Kansas, each carrying her own painful burden, each called in her own complex way to the history of a Catholic woman who knocked on Jewish doors in the Warsaw ghetto and, in Sendler's own words, "tried to talk the mothers out of their children."

HALF THE SKY: TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth.  Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and ultimately, hope.

WARRIOR WOMAN by James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom

A bestselling master of historical fiction, James Alexander Thom has brought unforgettable Native American figures to life for millions of readers, powerfully dramatizing their fortitude, fearsomeness, and profound fates. Now he and his wife, Dark Rain, have created a magnificent portrait of an astonishing woman–one who led her people in war when she could not persuade them to make peace.

Her name was Nonhelema. Literate, lovely, imposing at over six feet tall, she was the Women’s Peace Chief of the Shawnee Nation–and already a legend when the most decisive decade of her life began in 1774. That fall, with more than three thousand Virginians poised to march into the Shawnees’ home, Nonhelema’s plea for peace was denied. So she loyally became a fighter, riding into battle covered in war paint. When the Indians ran low on ammunition, Nonhelema’s role changed back to peacemaker, this time tragically.

Negotiating an armistice with military leaders of the American Revolution like Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark, she found herself estranged from her own people–and betrayed by her white adversaries, who would murder her loved ones and eventually maim Nonhelema herself.

Throughout her inspiring life, she had many deep and complex relationships, including with her daughter, Fani, who was an adopted white captive . . . a pious and judgmental missionary, Zeisberger . . . a series of passionate lovers . . . and, in a stunning creation of the Thoms, Justin Case–a cowardly soldier transformed by the courage he saw in the female Indian leader.

Filled with the uncanny period detail and richly rendered drama that are Thom trademarks, Warrior Woman is a memorable novel of a remarkable person–one willing to fight to avoid war, by turns tough and tender, whose heart was too big for the world she wished to tame.


THE PEARL THAT BROKE IT'S SHELL by Nadia Hashimi

Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?







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