April book discussions at Decorah Library

Decorah Public Library staff will host five book discussions in April. The groups are open to the public and newcomers are encouraged to attend.

Anyone interested should call the library at 382-3717 to learn more or to reserve a book. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email ktorresdal@decorahlibrary.org to be added to any of the five groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.

The Happy Hour Book Group will meet at Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. Wednesday, April 10 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Alice McDermott’s “Absolution.” In Saigon in 1963, two young American wives form a wary alliance. Tricia is a starry-eyed newlywed, married to a rising oil engineer “on loan” to US Navy Intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three on a mission to relieve the “wretchedness” she sees all around her. When Tricia miscarries, Charlene sweeps her into a cabal of do-gooder American wives. Sixty years later, Charlene’s daughter reaches out to Tricia. As the two relive their shared experience in Saigon, they are forced to come to terms with the ways their lives have been shaped by Charlene’s pursuit of “inconsequential good.”

The History Book Group will meet on the second floor of the library Thursday, April 18 at 3 p.m. to discuss Leanda de Lisle’s “After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England.” In the dawn of the 17th-century, when Mary Queen of Scots was dead and Elizabeth I grown old, the eyes of the English turned to Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland. Leanda de Lisle’s book focuses on the intense period of raised hopes and dashed expectations between Christmas 1602 and Christmas 1603, during which Elizabeth died, James was crowned, and the ancient enemies of England and Scotland were ruled by one monarch for the first time.

The Friday Book Group will meet on the second floor of the library Friday, April 19 at 2 p.m. to discuss Ciera Horton McElroy’s “Atomic Family.” It’s Nov. 1, 1961, in a small town in South Carolina, and nuclear war is coming. Nine-year-old Wilson Porter believes this with every fiber of his being. He prowls his neighborhood for Communists and studies fallout pamphlets and the habits of his father, a scientist at the nuclear plant in town. Meanwhile, his mother Nellie covertly joins an anti-nuclear movement led by angry housewives—and his father, Dean, must decide what to do with the damning secrets he’s uncovered at the nuclear plant. When tragedy strikes, the Porter family must learn to confront their fears—of the world and of each other.

The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wednesday, April 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss Christopher Rowe’s novella “The Navigating Fox.” Quintus Shu’al is the world’s only navigating fox. He’s also in disgrace after leading an expedition to its doom a year earlier, with dozens of lives lost. Now Quintus has a chance to redeem himself by leading a brand-new expedition to the gates of hell. In return, he is promised the eventual truth of his origins and his solitary existence. Zoom link available on the library website.

Immediately following the novella discussion, the group will discuss Victor LaValle’s “Lone Women” (beginning at 6:30 p.m. using the same Zoom link, available on the library’s website). The year is 1915, and Adelaide Henry is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, forcing her to flee California and make her way to Montana as a homesteader. She carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk opens, people around Adelaide start to disappear. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will become one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can tame it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing that will help her survive the harsh territory.For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book Groups) at 563-382-3717.

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