The reading group has read the first books. From now on you can read monthly our opinions here.
"The madonna's of "Leningrad by Debra Dean was the first book to be discussed. We all liked the book and it had enough to talk about. In short the story tells about an old russian woman, living in the USA, suffering from Alzheimer. With her fading memory she goes back in time to the beginning of the Siege of Leningrad where she -at that time a young girl- was working in the Hermitage. What we liked about the book where the parts about the city and about the Hermitage. When you have been into the museum, while reading you can wander around with the girl through the museum. Also fascinating was the description of the fading memory. Unclear in the book where the periods of time in the book. Especially when the author describes the periods about the Hermitage and the Siege of Leningrad, she doesn't give any clues about time. We all thought the period in the book about the siege was all long period, but it turned out to be only the first winter. In the book the author also gives a lot of hints about the relation between husband and wife, between mother and daughter, but nothing is decribed into more depth and details. We thought it would have made the book more interesting.
For me, I think that in the end the best of this book was that it made me more aware of the Siege and the fact that I still know so little about that period. And of course I wanted to visit the Hermitage again.
A complete different book was "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. Allthough a bestseller, for many of us this was the first time we read the book. A fable about a boy who wanted to see the pyramids of Egypt and decided to follow the path of hispersonal legend. It was an interesting book which gave us a lot to think about. Do we have our own personal legends, do we follow them? And if not, do we need them? Sometimes our legends changed as you grew older and lead us to another paths in life. The book has a very nice and optimistic atmosphere. Having lost everything he possessed, the boy goes on and on again, believing in himself. If you are looking for a nice book in these grey days before christmas, then "The alchemist" is a good choise.