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December 2004 Newsletter December 2004
This Month on

Happy Holidays

Special Feature and Contest: Win Copies of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Featured in THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB

Invite the Author to Your Group's Meeting


MORTALS by Norman Rush

Book Club Interviews
This Month's Poll
Newest Guides
This Month's Contest: Win SEA GLASS by Anita Shreve
Find a Guide by Title
Find a Guide by Author
Advice and Ideas
Register Your Group
Read more about Pages magazine here. Read more about THE NEW GREAT AMERICAN WRITERS' COOKBOOK here.

Happy Holidays

We know that many clubs this month abandon their usual meetings for special holiday celebrations. Some even have told us that they use this month to plan their selections for the following year. If your club is doing anything special this month that you would like to share with other readers, please drop me a note at

I watched the film adaptation of THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN the other night on television. I think this is one of the first times that I have seen a movie where it was as good as the book. I actually saw the book and its characters, perhaps not exactly the way I had envisioned them, but with an enhanced experience that I have not had many other times with a film adaptation. Wondering what you thought. Drop me a note at to let me know!

My column in Pages magazine for January/February will have my Bookish Resolutions for 2005. Make a note to pick up a copy and check them out. Also, when we return in January, we will have our Annual Reader Survey for you to answer.

As you plan your next months of reading with your groups, may we suggest you consider inviting an author to your meeting? Curious about what happens during these meetings and what book clubs and authors think about them? See the link at the end of my note to see what some groups had to say! Many authors have told us they love these opportunities to interact with readers since they get to hear feedback on their writing and hear what was meaningful to readers. If think we often forget what a solitary profession writing is. Enter to win the opportunity for one of the authors in the Invite the Author program to "visit" with your group. See details below.

Happy reading...and Happy Holidays. A friend sent a note last night that made me laugh. I think you all will relate to it. She said, "Have a joyful, peaceful, relaxing holiday. And then tell me how you managed to accomplish it." On that note --- we'll see you again next year!

Carol Fitzgerald (  

See what book clubs had to say about talking to authors during their meetings.

Read more about how to make your club a JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB here.
Special Feature and Contest: Win Copies of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Featured in THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB

Ever thought about making your book club a Jane Austen Book Club? Given the success of the bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler, we're sharing with book clubs what they need to make this happen. Beginning last month thru next April, we will publish a discussion guide that Fowler has written expressly for book clubs for one of the six Jane Austen titles mentioned in the book. Our second selection this month is Sense and Sensibility.

To make this Austen celebration even more fun, we are selecting 5 groups to each win 12 copies of Sense and Sensibility for their discussion. Interested? Send us your name and mailing address by writing by December 31, 2004 to be eligible to win. See complete list of rules at the link below.

In case you missed last month's selection: Emma, click here.

Read more about how to make your club a JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB here, as well as details on how to enter the contest.

Isaac and Nora haven't seen each other in five years, yet when Nora phones Isaac late one night, he knows who it is before she's spoken a word. Isaac, a photographer, is relinquishing his artistic career, while Nora, a writer, is seeking to rededicate herself to hers.

Fueled by their rediscovered love, Nora is soon on fire with the best work she's ever done, until she realizes that the story she's writing has turned into a fictionalized portrait of Isaac, exposing his frailties and compromises and sure to be viewed by him as a betrayal. How do we remain faithful to our calling if it estranges us from the people we love? How do we remain in love after we have seen the very worst of our loved ones? These are some of the questions explored in a novel that critics are calling "an absolute pleasure" (The Seattle Times).

Read more about A WINDOW ACROSS THE RIVER here.

Invite the Author to Your Group's Meeting

Invite the author to your next book group meeting! This winter, these acclaimed authors are available to speak via telephone about their books with your book group. A limited number of groups will be selected to participate.

January Authors -- Entries must be received by December 23, 2004:

Ann-Marie MacDonald discusses The Way the Crow Flies. This is a P.S. title, with an additional 16-page section, offering a behind-the-pages look at both the author and the book. 
Sujata Massey's discusses the sixth book in her Agatha and Macavity Award-winning series, The Samurai's Daughter.  

February Authors -- Entries must be received by January 20, 2005:

Elizabeth Noble discusses The Reading Group. This is a P.S. title, with an additional 16-page section, offering a behind-the-pages look at both the author and the book.

Meg Cabot discusses Every Boy's Got One.

Jennifer Haigh discusses Baker Towers.

Sign up now at for your chance to talk with one of these authors!


Meet Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute in nineteenth-century London who yearns for escape to a better life. From the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, she begins her ascent through society, meeting a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters on the way. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose empire is fueled by his lust for Sugar; his unhinged, child-like wife Agnes; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie; and his pious brother Henry, foiled in his devotional calling by a persistently less-than-chaste love for the Widow Fox. All this is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions.

Teeming with life, this is a big, juicy must-read of a novel that has enthralled hundreds of thousands of readers-and will continue to do so for years to come.

Read the guide for THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE here.

MORTALS by Norman Rush

At once a political adventure, a portrait of a passionate but imperiled marriage, and an acrobatic novel of ideas, Mortals marks Norman Rush's return to the territory he has made his own, the southern African nation of Botswana. Nobody here is entirely what he claims to be. Ray Finch is not just a middle-aged Milton scholar but a CIA agent. His lovely and doted-upon wife Iris is also a possible adulteress. And Davis Morel, the black alternative physician who is treating her -- while undertaking a quixotic campaign to de-Christianize Africa -- may also be her lover.

As a spy, the compulsively literate Ray ought to have no trouble confirming his suspicions. But there's the distraction of actual spying. Most of all, there's the problem of love, which Norman Rush anatomizes in all its hopeless splendor in a novel that would have delighted Milton, Nabokov, and Graham Greene.

Click here to read a guide for MORTALS.
Book Club Interviews
This month we bring you the following book club interview:

Sheri Winkelman of Portland, Oregon shares her book club. Although the demographics of her fellow members vary, they all have a good sense of humor and respect one another's opinions. Read on to learn about their most memorable discussion, their ambitious plans for the future, and the horror story that will send chills up your spine.
Read our Book Club interviews here.
Read how to Register Your Group here. Click here to browse Library Journal's Most Borrowed Books list. Click here to browse our Book Awards feature.
This Month's Poll

Are you giving books as presents this holiday season?
Not sure

Answer our poll question here.
Check out our Author Bibliographies here. Read about the titles that readers are talking about. Publishers and Authors add your guides to Details here.
Newest Guides

A.D. 62: Pompeii by Rebecca East
As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
Breaking Her Fall by Stephen Goodwin
By Bread Alone by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Canal House by Mark Lee
Caught in the Act by Toinette Lippe
Crabwalk by Günter Grass
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Double by José Saramago
The Fox's Walk by Annabel Davis-Goff
Leah's Way by Richard Botelho
The Liberated Bride by A. B. Yehoshua
Life Mask by Emma Donoghue
The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
Mortals by Norman Rush
Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons
The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble
Savannah {or} A Gift for Mr. Lincoln by John Jakes
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
Sunday Jews by Hortense Calisher
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
A Window Across the River by Brian Morton
The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by M.A. Harper


See the Newest Guides here.
What To Do When No Guide is Available Search for thousands of book reviews and author interviews. Search lists of books coming out in the next few months.
This Month's Contest: Win SEA GLASS by Anita Shreve
A subscription to our newsletter is all you need to be entered in our monthly contest. This month, one lucky reader will win enough copies of SEA GLASS by Anita Shreve for his or her entire reading group.

Here is a description of the book:

With all the narrative power and emotional immediacy that have made her novels acclaimed international bestsellers, Anita Shreve unfolds a richly engaging tale of marriage, money, and troubled times - the story of a pair of young newlyweds who, setting out to build a life together in a derelict beach house on the Atlantic coast, soon discover how threatening the world outside their front door can be.


Read contest details here.

Do you like what you see here, and want to forward it to a friend? Then click our link on the bottom of the page to do just that!

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald (

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