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We have 9 ladies in Monday Night Page-Turners. One couldn’t make it last night due to having a sick child, but everyone else showed up and we ended up with a very diversified group of opinions. 

I was really unsure if there would be any trepidation on behalf of these ladies to share their thoughts and opinions. Turns out, there isn’t. This group, I think, is going to be VERY honest and if last night proved anything to me it’s that books really do bring people together in a way like no other. 

Here are some of the highlights of our discussion. *Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book.*

Of our 8 ladies present, all but one said that they liked A Storied Life, but nobody seemed to be “in love” with the selection. There was a general consensus that there was a lack of character development which would have been necessary to care more deeply about some of the individuals in the story, and their ultimate fate. 

There was also an agreement that much of the last half of the book felt rushed and put together very quickly – as though the author had a deadline to finish and not a story.

Some of the discussion centered around these questions:

Why do you think the author chose to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.’s character?

A.J. is a grieving widower. He continues to live in the hometown of his deceased wife and only does so because of the business they built there together because he seems to have no love of the place. “No man is an island.” but A.J. certainly tries to be. He is socially awkward anyway, but he has a lack of empathy that makes it hard for anyone to really get close to him.

At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps “your whole life is determined by what store you get left in”. Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?

The consensus of most was that it is the people that make our lives. However, there were others, like myself, that believe it is both. I think I might have been very different if I grew up in different surroundings, though my personality might be the same.

Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming?

Our answer was, essentially, if you know it’s coming, it’s not really a twist.

There were other questions discussed as well, and I just saw a whole slew I missed somehow that I didn’t ask. So I will post them on the Facebook page for further discussion.

I think that overall, this was a great book to break the ice for a new book club. It wasn’t heavy, with no real divisive elements. I look forward to seeing where we go now that we’ve hit the ground running and have a very different kind of selection to discuss next time.

I will leave you with some of my personal favorite quotes from A Storied Life….

Why is any one book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.

Why do people do what they do? This is the hallmark of great writing.

And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn’t too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.

The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.

We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.

In the end, we are collected works.