Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

Nov 2010 Discussion Recap: The Good Sister

Several of us were anxiously waiting for this months book club discussion of The Good Sister.  If you weren't able to join us this month, we had a wonderful conversation with Drusilla Campbell - discussing the book and we had a hard time not spending too much time talking about her next book which sounds so interesting.  If you enjoyed The Good Sister you will want to read Little Girl Gone (to be published Jan 2012).

If you weren't able to join us, you will find this month's discussion on the playlist located in the right column. 

Synopsis: Roxanne Callahan has always been her younger sister's caretaker. Now married, her happiness is threatened when beautiful and emotionally unstable Simone, suffering from crippling postpartum depression, commits an unforgivable crime for which Roxanne comes to believe she is partially responsible. In the glare of national media attention brought on her sister, Roxanne fights to hold her marriage together as she is drawn back into the pain of her troubled past and relives the fraught relationship she and Simone shared with their narcissistic mother. At the same time, only she can help Simone's nine year old daughter, Merell, make sense of the family's tragedy. Cathartic, lyrical, and unflinchingly honest, THE GOOD SISTER is a novel of four generations of women struggling to overcome a legacy of violence, lies and secrecy, ultimately finding strength and courage in their love for each other.

Discussion Recap:

Drusilla's book recommendations include: The Cookbook Collector (Goodman), and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Mitchell)

In addition to the call, we are bringing back the online discussion for those unable to join us - or for anyone who has read the book and would like to participate.

Here are some questions to get the discussion started (answer any/all of them or simply leave a comment about your reading experience):

1.  What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?
2.  What was your opinion of Johnny?
3.  Do you think Roxanne handled the situation well?  Did she frustrate you with some of her choices throughout the story?
4.  Do you know anyone or have a personal experience with PPD?  If yes, would you like to share your story with us?  It's so important to realize that women do struggle and it's not a choice.
5.  The author mentioned that Andrea Yates was the inspiration for this book, after reading this and thinking about Johnny.... has your view changed towards husbands when their wife has PPD?  Do you see them as victim/survivors?

And as I always end this post... what are you reading now?
Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself: I was born in Melbourne, Australia and came to this country when I was a baby. My mom is one of five sisters and I'm the eldest of more than ten cousins and despite rarely seeing each other, I'm still tight with many of them. What amazes me is how much alike we all are. My Dad was an American and took us to live in a beautiful small town (big now) in Northern California. I was blessed with a wonderful childhood. I've always been a reader, a daydreamer, but most of all a storyteller, going back to sixth grade when I wrote a novel called "A Designing Young Teacher." My husband, Art, is a law professor and poet and we've been married a long time and still really like each other. We have two sons and three grandchildren, two large dogs and four horses.

What was it like getting your first novel published? What is your writing schedule like? Second question first. I don't have a set schedule which probably goes back to the years when Rocky and Matt were boys and I fit writing in when I could. However, I do tend to go flat out for several days or even weeks and then crash, rest, start again. The first question requires a longer answer than I think you want but I'll try to hit the high points. I've actually had two separate and very different writing careers. During the first one I wrote ten historical novels in four years and in order to do that I became addicted to a number of illegal substances. I went into treatment for addictions and came out of that a different woman. My style and subject matter changed radically and it took me almost twenty years to sell another book. During that time I continued to write but my style and subject matter had changed so much that one editor complained to my (then) agent: "Why doesn't she write like she used to?" For years I studied the craft, read constantly across all genres including the dictionary, kept a deeply boring and introspective journal, and wrote novels that no one wanted. When "Wildwood" sold to Kensington in 2001, I was overcome with relief and gratitude.

When you start writing, how much of the story do you have mapped out and how much is organic? I like to work from a narrative summary that keeps me aiming in the right direction but allows me to develop characters and situations freely. Sometimes I go off the map and find hidden treasures. 

If you could interview anyone, who would if be and why? What would you like to ask them? Marilyn Monroe. I've always been drawn to real and fictional characters like Norma Ray whose lives go off the rails. In the real world these individuals come in for a lot of criticism and derision and judgmental moralizing, but I'm convinced that if we could see to their cores we'd be in sympathy with them. And what would I ask her? All the questions anyone would, plus those no one but me would think of.

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