November: The Scarlet Pimpernel

scarletFor November, Read It & Steep will be reading The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.

Amazon.com describes it as:

‘This timeless novel of intrigue and romance is the adventure of one man’s defiance in the face of authority. The rulers of the French Revolution are unable to discern the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a man whose exploits are an embarrassment to the new regime. Is he an exiled French nobleman or an English lord? The only thing for certain is his calling card–the blood-red flower known as the Scarlet Pimpernel…’

I’m especially excited about this one.  It’s not only one of my favorite books ever, but it inspired an amazing series by Lauren Willig that I also fell in love with!  Should be a great discussion.

August 2015: Paper Towns

Paper Towns

The movie was pushed back, so our reading of Paper Towns has been too!

John Green’s Paper Towns will hit theatres in June (now July!), so the group plans on doing another field trip to the pictures.  Due to the release date of the film being after we meet in June, we figured we’d read it for July!

The book is described on amazon.com:

“When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.”

July 2015: The Importance of Being Earnest

EarnestWe’ve had to put Paper Towns off by a month due to the release of the movie being pushed back to July.  What better way to plug the hole with Oscar Wilde’s delightful comedy: The Importance of Being Earnest?

This is one of my favorite pieces of farce and I can’t wait to discuss it with the group. We’ll meet on July 21 @ 7 pm.

The description on amazon.com is as follows:

Here is Oscar Wilde’s most brilliant tour de force, a witty and buoyant comedy of manners that has delighted millions in countless productions since its first performance in London’s St. James’ Theatre on February 14, 1895. The Importance of Being Earnest is celebrated not only for the lighthearted ingenuity of its plot, but for its inspired dialogue, rich with scintillating epigrams still savored by all who enjoy artful conversation.

From the play’s effervescent beginnings in Algernon Moncrieff’s London flat to its hilarious denouement in the drawing room of Jack Worthing’s country manor in Hertfordshire, this comic masterpiece keeps audiences breathlessly anticipating a new bon mot or a fresh twist of plot moment to moment. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

June 2015: Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

June 2015 will be Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, reviewed by author Adriana Trigiani on amazon.com:

“Beautiful Ruins is a glorious read for book lovers. From the moment you pick up the novel, it conjures a world that you long to enter. The teal-blue Ligurian Sea laps against a jagged coastline filled with candy-colored houses and open windows. At first glance, you’re dying to get inside those houses and find out what’s going on.

You needn’t worry. Jess Walter has written a sumptuous epic about the real people who make art, spinning illusion for fun, profit, and meaning. There are screen actors, a novelist, and Pasquale, an innkeeper, who keeps his patrons fed and watered on homemade wine and dreams. Among all the shimmer and hope are the lost souls who long to create something, anything. And just as Jess Walter introduces us to these characters, he follows them for fifty years. The journey will delight and captivate you.

You will be crushed when the novelist, Alvis, tracks down a woman whom he believed saved him in his youth, only to take a long walk down a dark hallway into a room where everything he believes and all his hopes shatter in one exchange. Jess Walter can break your heart in one conversation.

If you love the ancient charms of the Italian coast on the Ligurian Sea, if you long for Edinburgh and its cold rain and distant hot sun, and if you love stories of the dream factory that is Hollywood, you will not be able to part from this book until you are finished reading it. Even then, for months afterward, you’ll keep it close so you can reread a passage here and there that moved you.

It’s all here, the illusion and reality, the joy and the shame of the creative life, of life itself. The ingenue Dee, the producer Michael, and the D-girl Claire take you into the world of making movies, the expectations and disappointments, and in an ingenious turn, the author pins the hem of the action with real Hollywood stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who are engaging in a drama of their own in Rome.

Jess Walter has quietly and expertly built a career over six novels that puts him at the forefront of great American writers. Beautiful Ruins is the emerald among the pearls.”

May 2015: The Green Mile

The Green MileMay 2015 will see Read It & Steep enjoying (hopefully it won’t just be me that enjoys it!) one of Stephen King’s finest works: The Green Mile. Some of the steepers seemed worried due to King’s reputation as a horror novelist, but while this book does have plenty of the “Horrors! Horrors!” that our group has come to expect, this isn’t a King book that’s filled with gore.  It’s described on amazon.com as:

“When The Green Mile first appeared, serialized as one volume per month, Stephen King’s The Green Mile was an unprecedented publishing triumph: all six volumes ended up on the New York Timesbestseller list—simultaneously—and delighted millions of fans the world over.

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with “Old Sparky,” Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he’s never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs…and yours.”

April 2015: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in BrooklynFor April 2015 we’ll be reading Steeper Meghan’s “most favorite book ever,” A Tree Grows in Brooklyndescribed on amazon.com:

“The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.”

March 2015: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance DaneIn March, we’ll be reading The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, written by Katherine Howe.  It’s described on amazon.com as:

A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history–the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.