Published on: Monday, June 1, 2015 Takoma Park Newsletter

Summer, Fall Friends Book Group selections announced

For its summer selection the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library bi-monthly book group will discuss the novel “Cloudstreet” by the Australian author Tim Winton on July 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Center Hydrangea Room.

Published in 1993, “Cloudstreet” has become one of the bestloved novels among the Australian public. The novel, which occurs from 1943 to 1963, tells the story of two families, the Lambs and the Pickles, who live in the same house in a suburb of Perth. Winton uses the contrasting approaches to life by the two families to explore how humans struggle to find meaning in life.

“‘Cloudstreet’ was my way to express the importance of all the relationships I had throughout my life in Western Australia,” Winton has said. “As some of you may have picked up from the setting, I love water; the beach, the rivers and the lakes.”

Winton is a prolific writer, having authored 13 novels and four collections of short stories. He has also written books for children as well as several works of nonfiction. Winton has been shortlisted twice for the Booker award and has won the Miles Franklin award (one of Australia’s top literary prizes) a record four times.

Beginning this fall, and continuing in winter, the Friends will hold a lecture and a series of discussions on “Daniel Deronda” by George Eliot.

First published in 1876, “Daniel Deronda” was the last novel Eliot completed and the only one set in the contemporary Victorian society of her day. According to Wikipedia its mixture of social satire and moral searching, along with a sympathetic rendering of Jewish proto-Zionist and Kaballistic ideas, has made it a controversial final statement of one of the greatest of Victorian novelists.

“Few [readers] had a problem, upon its publication, with its portrayal of yearning and repression in the English upper class,” writes the Guardian’s book blog. But as Eliot’s lover, George Henry Lewes, had predicted, “The Jewish element seems to me to satisfy nobody.” The book “took on what was a highly unusual contemporary theme: the position of Jews in British and European society and their likely prospects. The eponymous hero is an idealistic young aristocrat who comes to the rescue of a young Jewish woman and in his attempts to help her find her family is drawn steadily deeper into the Jewish community and the ferment of early Zionist politics.”

“For those today who find Zionism difficult to understand, Eliot’s depiction of its origins is evocative and powerful,” the Guardian also writes. “[The character] Mordecai both describes and embodies the wandering Jew, forever an alien in a foreign land, never at home, ‘a people who kept and enlarged their spiritual store at the very time when they were hunted with a hatred so fierce as the forest fires that chase the wild beast from its covert.’”

All are welcome to attend the Friends’ book discussions. Contact the Library for announcements of meeting dates and locations for “Daniel Deronda.” Copies of the selections by George Eliot and Tim Winton are available for borrowing.

This article appeared in the June 2015 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.