`The Lovely Bones' a grim topic of discussion for Book Babes

Book club

March 20, 2003

An interview with Marge Trautman, coordinator of Book Babes book club.

How did your group get started? We go back about 10 years, and we are a group of librarians. ... So besides being a book discussion group, it's also been a support group. ... We can talk about work-related things. It's nice to have that commonality.

How many members do you have? 10. We've basically stayed steady at about 10 members, which is a nice size group. About eight show up to a meeting. ... Because we gather in [members'] homes, and we share a meal, it just seems to make it more cozy, more comfortable, and everybody has a turn to talk.

What book are members reading this month? The Lovely Bones [by Alice Sebold]. It's become a [popular] book because the Today Show chose it. ... It's a pretty grim topic. It's about a murdered girl, and she's narrating the book from heaven.

Is there a book that stood out over the years that members especially liked? We've all especially liked Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups. Anne Tyler is always a favorite. She does wonderfully discussible books, which have ordinary people doing ordinary things, and they're set in Baltimore, which is especially nice.

What makes them discussible? I think women really relate to them. ... For example, in Back When We Were Grownups, the main character is a widow, a mother, a stepmother and grandmother, and in the opening to the book she wonders, "How did I ever become this person who's not really me?" And that's a great discussion question. ... There's so much in [Anne Tyler's] words that you can relate to and say, "Oh, that's exactly what I was thinking."

Is there a book over the years that most of the members did not like? Several of us did not like The Red Tent [by Anita Diamant]. I thought it was kind of poorly written myself. ... I think the story was unique, but I think it was repetitive. I think it was melodramatic. It's hard to remember the full discussion about it, but I think we thought it just needed some editing.

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