How It All Began by Penelope Lively

How It All Began by Penelope Lively

Great read for book groups!

This is a contemporary novel set in England, in which we meet retired school teacher, Charlotte.  Charlotte is minding her own business visiting the shops, when out of the blue, she is knocked down by thief who steals her hand bag and, but even worse, breaks her hip

Now, this independent lady is forced to move in with her daughter Rose and Rose’s dull but kind husband, Gerry.  Charlotte feels like an intruder, she misses her books, and her home.  She also has to suspend her volunteer work as a literacy trainer.  But she invites one of her more promising students, Anton, to continue on with his lessons at the house while Rose is at work. 

Anton is from an Eastern European country, trained as an accountant, but has been working construction jobs until he is proficient enough in English to apply for a job in his field.  He is an earnest student and clearly Charlotte is a talented and effective teacher.  Rose begins to join them for tea and she and Anton realize that they have simpatico spirits. 

Rose works for Henry, a wealthy former academic of advancing years, but because of Charlotte’s mishap, she is unable to accompany him to one of his guest lectures at a conference.  Instead, he is accompanied by his niece Marion, an interior designer.  Marion’s inattention leads to Henry not having his notes at the lecture, and he humiliates himself.  Henry decides to publish something important that will help restore his reputation.  Meanwhile, at the conference Marion meets up with a married antiques dealer and they begin an ill-fated affair which causes his wife to threaten him with divorce.  And so on it goes.

The idea behind the book is “turn a corner, find your fate”.  The out of the blue fall that Charlotte takes when she is robbed begins a chain of events that impact a large swath of people who, otherwise, would probably never have met or, at least, interacted in the way they did.  It’s a case of never knowing how the decisions you make, the route you take, when and where you happen to be at any time, can change the course of your life and the lives of others.  The novel speaks of chance, fortune, and the absolute randomness of life.  This story is told through a cast of enjoyable characters and quirky circumstances.  The story is full of good humor and human kindness.  I highly recommend it to book groups as well as individual readers.

“Baby-O!” Library Concert for Babies & Their Families

“Baby-O!” Library Concert for Babies & Their Families

Saturday, July 25 at 10:30 and 11:00

MaryLee Sunseri presents traditional and original activity songs and fingerplays for parents and caregivers to enjoy with their babies and young children. She is the winner of 4 Parents Choice Awards and 2 American Library Notable Children’s Recordings. Please join us at the library as we sing and move along to these magical, musical songs and chants.

Chinese Paper-Cuts on Exhibit at the Library

June 30, 2015 - July 30, 2015.

June 30, 2015
Media Contact:  Jeanne McCombs

Monterey Public Library, Monterey, California
831.646.3949 / mccombs@monterey.org
www.monterey.org/library
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chinese paper-cuts by Tianxi Liu, China's leading paper cutting artist, are on exhibit in the Monterey Public Library lobby now through July 30, 2015.  Liu's artworks are widely recognized as the best represented of the inheritance and development of Chinese folk arts.

There are thirty-five pieces in the exhibit, courtesy of Liu's son Zhenshuai Liu, a professor at the Defense Language Institute.  This art dates back to the 6th century and is one of the world's most ancient arat forms.  Paper cuts are popular among Chinese in all walks of life.  They ornament walls, windows and doors during joyful times and celebrations.  Paper cuts are regarded as lucky items.  For more information contact liutianxipapercuts@gmail.com

The Monterey Public Library is located at 625 Pacific Street, Monterey, and is open Monday - Wednesday, 12 noon - 8 p.m., Thursday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Sundays, 1 - 5 p.m.

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Chinese Paper-cuts on Exhibit in the Library

June 30, 2015 through July

June 30, 2015
Media Contact:  Jeanne McCombs

Monterey Public Library, Monterey, California
831.646.3949 / mccombs@monterey.org
www.monterey.org/library
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chinese paper-cuts by Tianxi Liu, China's leading paper cutting artist, are on exhibit in the Monterey Public Library lobby now through July 30, 2015.  Liu's artworks are widely recognized as the best represented of the inheritance and development of Chinese folk arts.

There are thirty-five pieces in the exhibit, courtesy of Liu's son Zhenshuai Liu, a professor at the Defense Language Institute.  This art dates back to the 6th century and is one of the world's most ancient arat forms.  Paper cuts are popular among Chinese in all walks of life.  They ornament walls, windows and doors during joyful times and celebrations.  Paper cuts are regarded as lucky items.  For more information contact liutianxipapercuts@gmail.com

The Monterey Public Library is located at 625 Pacific Street, Monterey, and is open Monday - Wednesday, 12 noon - 8 p.m., Thursday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 - 5 p.m.

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Dead Wake; the Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Dead Wake; the Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

U-boats vs. Lifeboats

A century ago, 1915, Europe was at war.  Britannia still ruled the waves, but German submarine warfare was nibbling away rapidly and heartlessly at England’s maritime supremacy.  At first the German U-boats targeted military and cargo vessels, but passenger ships soon became fair game.  Then ships from neutral countries were fair game.  U-boat captains – most of which were in their twenties or thirties – had total control over their actions while at sea, and elevating their reputations and advancing their careers was measured in terms of the tonnage they managed to sink.   The most successful submarine crews and captain were usually pretty ruthless and often made the least possible effort to minimize human loss. 

Britain, on the other hand, was apparently eager to draw neutral U.S. into their war, and probably didn’t do much to warn ships with U.S. citizens and cargo about impending danger.  Certainly, they didn’t do much to help the Lusitania.

A confluence of circumstances including the ones mentioned above – added to by good luck, bad luck, poorly organized emergency plans, inadequate lifeboats, smugness, and a several of other circumstances led to the sinking of the largest passenger ship in the Cunard line, the (supposedly) unsinkable Lusitania.  Yet, in May 2015, the Lusitania and its somewhere around 2,000 passengers and crew were sunk within about 15 minutes of being hit by a single torpedo.   More than half of them perished.  Among them were many Americans. 

The great thing about this story is the way Larson puts it together.  We all know what’s going to happen to the Lusitania, so this piece of history could be fairly dry despite all of his research on times, dates, maritime factoids, naval strategy, and so forth.  Larson populates this story from the very first with real people – people who made that fateful journey on the Lusitania.  We learn their names, their circumstances, their backgrounds, their personal troubles and joys.  Larson puts a human face on this story which makes it gripping, suspenseful, and harrowing as any tragic adventure story in fiction.   And he adds the political backdrop in which this disaster took place, introducing us to the recently widowed U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, his personal life, his passions, and his challenges as a world leader.

One thing about Larson’s research sides against some of the theorists who over time have insisted that the Lusitania would not have experienced more than one explosion (1 torpedo = 1 explosion) had it not been carrying munitions for Britain in its cargo hold.  (Turns out that wasn’t the cause of the second explosion.)  I always love it when someone debunks a long and widely held theory, and Larson doesn’t disappoint!

Don’t miss this great read! 

 

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