JCC MetroWest Book Group
Our book group is free, open to both members and non-members, and you can join and begin attending at any time! Click here for the Book Group archives.
June: Friday, June 16 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon
In 1917, Bea, the privileged daughter of Jewish industrialists in Boston and a prominent temperance leader, leaves her out-of-wedlock baby girl in her uncle’s orchard in Cape Ann. The baby is found by Emma, a dirt-poor Irish Catholic fisherman’s wife and mother of nine, who takes her in and names her Lucy Pear. Bea and Emma cross paths again in 1927 when Emma, the mistress of a politician courting Bea’s endorsement, becomes a maid for Bea’s aging uncle. Solomon slowly unravels the revelation of the women’s shared past, and future, and the horrific secret the little girl hides from both of them. The story of these women, and their little girl’s tortuous past, is set against the tumultuous labor unrest and racial politics of the era.
July: Thursday, July 13 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
On a trip to Rome, violinist Julia Ansdell, the narrator of this haunting thriller, buys an old music book from an antique shop. Inside the book, on a loose sheet of paper, is a handwritten waltz, Incendio, by one L. Todesco. Back home in Boston, Julia plays Incendio on her violin, but doing so appears to set off a series of calamities, starting with the death of the family cat, that upset her relationships with her husband, Rob, and their three-year-old daughter, Lily. Julia subsequently travels to Venice, to try to learn more about the music and its Jewish composer, Lorenzo Todesco. Flashbacks spanning 1938 to 1944 chronicle Lorenzo’s tragic story, in particular his romance with Catholic Laura Balboni, as the Fascist regime’s ever harsher anti-Semitic laws tear families and friends apart. Gerritsen movingly depicts Julia’s search, which has some surprising repercussions and builds to a satisfying crescendo.
September: Thursday, September 14, 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
The New York Times-bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light returns with a new, powerful and passionate novel—inspired by historical events—about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives. Set alternately in 1945 post-war Germany, 2010 America, and 1783 Berlin, Germany, the novel interweaves the stories of Susanna and Sara and their families, seamlessly melding past and present, real and imagined. Lauren Belfer’s deeply researched, evocative, and compelling narrative resonates with emotion and immediacy.
October: Wednesday, October 11 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Waking Lions is a gripping, suspenseful, and morally devastating drama of guilt and survival, shame and desire from a remarkable young Israeli author. Neurosurgeon Eitan Green has the perfect life in Israel–married to a beautiful police officer and father of two young boys. Then, speeding along a deserted moonlit road after an exhausting hospital shift, he hits someone. Seeing that the man, an African migrant, is beyond help, he flees the scene.
When the victim’s widow knocks at Eitan’s door the next day, holding his wallet and divulging that she knows what happened, Eitan discovers that her price for silence is not money. It is something else entirely, something that will shatter Eitan’s safe existence and take him into a world of secrets and lies he could never have anticipated.
November: Tuesday, November 14 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey
An inventive, brilliant, prize-winning debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life upside down to follow her author’s trail.
Beatriz Yagoda was once one of Brazil’s most celebrated authors. At the age of sixty, she is mostly forgotten — until one summer afternoon when she enters a park in Rio de Janeiro, climbs into an almond tree, and disappears. When her devoted translator Emma hears the news in wintry Pittsburgh, she flies to the sticky heat of Rio. There she joins the author’s son and daughter to solve the mystery of Yagoda’s disappearance and satisfy the demands of the colorful characters left in her wake, including a loan shark with a debt to collect and the washed-up editor who launched Yagoda’s career. What they discover is how much of her they never knew.
Exquisitely imagined and as profound as it is suspenseful, Ways to Disappear is at once a thrilling story of intrigue and a radiant novel of self-reckoning.
December: Monday, December 18 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
The Yid by Paul Goldberg
Moscow, February 1953. A week before Stalin’s death, his final pogrom, “one that will forever rid the motherland of the vermin,” is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, though old, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant.
While the setting is Soviet Russia, the backdrop is Shakespeare, with Stalin in the role of mad king. As hilarious as it is moving, as philosophical as it is violent, with echoes of Inglourious Basterds and Seven Samurai, The Yid is a tragicomic masterpiece of historical fiction.