Book club: time to post on ROCOCO

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Too bad we can't discuss this on the coast of Italy, maybe in Portofino or on the isle of Capri. Either that, or downtown Manhattan or seaside New Jersey, at least.

    After reading a chapter, I knew this was chick-lit to the extreme: interior decorating, romance, or "love, lust, large Italian familes, and interior decorating," as it says on the jacket. Trigiani even threw in a bunch of recipes for good measure. It's rare that you read a book about someone who is the steady anchor in a family, rather than about someone who is embroiled in conflict. Yet I found the book colorful and funny, and enjoyed the adventures of Bartolomeo di Crespi, as he kept his family and friends sane and attempted to redecorate the Our Lady of Fatima church. I think I even learned something about interior design, and I found myself grinning for the last twenty pages.

    I also laughed out loud at Toot's malapropisms:

    "Forty is a millstone."
    "MILESTONE," I correct her.

    or "I should have realized I was totally expandable."

    Some questions to consider (feel free to talk about only one or all of them, if you're up to it):

    What was your favorite part of the book?
    Did you expect Bartolomeo and Eydie to get together in the end?
    Why did Trigiani set the book in 1970? And why New Jersey?
    How is your family similar to or different from Bartolomeo's?
    If interior decorating is the passion of Bartolomeo di Crespi's life, what is yours?

    Hope to hear from EVERYBODY--even if you procrastinated or didn't get to read the book this month--note the last question.

    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2007]
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    thru 200 pages and then gave up the ghost.

    There were some colorful characters, but none of them seemed believable. I think the author was (possibly in response to her own name) a little too carried away w/ goofy names: Toot, Two, B.

    I want interesting characters, not cute names.

    Way too much decorating, too much French and especially too much Catholicism.

    And the main character is obviously gay so why the phoney straight sex scene?

    Not my cup of expresso.


  3. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Don't beat around the bush, tell it to us straight!

    I do see your point about the overly cute names and about Bartolomeo, though. Though there is a suggestion at the end that he is actually bi.

    But how about the last question--what would you say is your passion? (It takes me a while to think of these questions, such as they are, you know)...

    [This Message was Edited on 06/27/2007]
  4. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Yes, As I have noted in the past, you are zee mastiar of thinking up provocative questions.

    But anytime I do a post and intend to discuss more than one point, I always forget what I intended to say.

    Anyway, my passion is the same as Liz Taylor's. $75 for a quarter ounce according to the net. Who can afford it ouside of Liz, Donald Trump and other dysfunctional people of similar ilk?

    Well, 50 years ago when I was in college, I used to usher for the touring Broadway shows, the Met, the Mpls Symphony, etc. No pay, but free admission. My fantasy was to have all the records I wanted.

    It was one of the few goals I achieved in life. Most of the records I bought used at very low prices. One time I was at a parking lot sale. The music store was selling LPs three for a dollar. It stated to sprinkle, so I yelled, "Hey, we want a discount." So the guy said, "OK, 5 for a dollar."

    I never counted (no sense in reinforcing my compulsive behavior) but I probably owned about 6000 LPs. Over the years I sold, traded or gave away about half of them.

    I had grand opera, grand ole opry, folk, Broadway, Americana, operrette, choral, early rock, and a lot of Misc. Almost everything except jazz, soul, and rap. (I don't even know what hip hop is. Music for rabbits?)

    Now I have 3000 sitting in a storage bin that nobody wants including me. I guess I'm just going to have to bite the vinyl and toss them. It's a shame, but there's no help for it.

    Time marches on, and we must march with it. (Oh yeah, I had band music including J. P. Sousa conducting his own marches.)

    And what were your passions, Ken? Teaching and climbing mountains?

  5. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    And I also forgot to say, I went to the library today and there was "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen.

    Better late than never, unless, of course, you're talking about a pardon from the governor.

    Interesting tidbit. Did you know the elephant's closest living relative is the Hydrox?

    Altho the Hydrox became extinct about a decade ago, the observant zoologist can find similar fauna nesting on super market shelves.

  6. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I'm almost ready to start Water for Elephants! Rock, we're a little behind but that may be better than no hind at all. We'll be caught up before you know it! ;>)

    As for my passion..... hmmmmmm...... I'd have to say that it's making a life out of what's available to me now. It did actually used to be design but that has become relatively low on my list of priorities now that the goal is to get to naptime having accomplished something. Life does have a way of putting things in perspective! Viva!

    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2007]
  7. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    It's been a few weeks already since I read the book, but I have been too busy with the puppy to read another in between, so I think I can remember some things.

    My favorite part of the book was when the grumpy priest got blackmailed for fooling around with a parishoner! Too funny! I liked the Catholic stuff, because I am Catholic. I was fallen away Catholic, but when I was 41 I read a book that discussed the Fatima story and found it fascinating. I researched on the web and my conversion followed! So I really liked the stuff in the book about the three children of Fatima who witnessed the Miracle.

    I really didn't expect B and Eydie to get together at all. Like Rock, I thought B was gay and that he would figure this out by the end of the book. I think the book hinted that he was confused about his sexuality. It was cute that B was trying to gracefully get out of his engagement only to find that Capri in no way whatsoever wanted or expected him to marry her!

    Right now I guess my passion is my kids, granddaughter and my dogs. Kind of boring I know, but that's my life these days!
  8. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Rock: Better late, than never--unless you're receiving a pardon from the governor. Good one. How, my friend, do you think of such things? 6000 records at one point? All I can say is holy cow. The most I ever had was about 200, and that was in the mid 80s. Have you thought about trying to sell your remaining 3000 on Craigslist or Ebay? One problem with LPs is they're so heavy--in a large pile, that is. But I always thought they sounded better than CDs, and I wish I had my old records and Radio Shack turntable. My first record was a Christmas present, Elton John's Greatest Hits, given to me in 1972, when I was six years old. What was your first LP?
    What on earth, my friend, is a hydrox--besides being a relative of an elephant?

    I suppose my passions used to be teaching and exploring mountains and canyons of the Four Corners Area. I was so into climbing, biking, and skiing, that it was like an addiction, albeit a healthy one. They are still my passions, though I have to read about exploration these days rather than do it. It's nice to feel that I'm still a teacher in some sense, even though I'm not in the classroom at the moment. You are a teacher too, by the way, and a good one.

    I guess I have lots of passions: my family, friends, home, literature, film, history, philosophy, Tofutti ice cream sandwiches.

    Marta: I really liked what you said about making a life out of what's available to you now. I suppose that sums up what I feel passionate about now, too. And it's never too late for Water for Elephants!

    Dar: I don't think your passions of family and home are mundane at all. That's interesting that your conversion to Catholicism followed your reading about the miracle of Fatima. Ever see the movie, The Song of Bernadette, about the Lourdes miracle? Madjugorge, Yugoslavia, is the site of another interesting visitation story and gets tens of thousands of visitors every year. I'm not Catholic, but I've visited the famous sanctuary at Chimayo here in New Mexico near Santa Fe, in hopes that its healing powers might rub off on me. There is a room where people have left hundreds of crutches, claiming to no longer need them. I even collected some of the healing dirt in a little plastic container and keep it in our home. Did you know that many New Mexicans claim to have seen the image of Christ or Mary in tortillas?

    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2007]
  9. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    Yes, Ken I have heard of Lourdes France and Medjugre miracles and many others. For a while after my conversion I was a bit obsessed reading about them. I will someday go to Medjugre. I have read the most books about those miracles. No one who goes there comes back the same. Haven't seen the Bernadette movie, but will rent it someday.

    Molly-were you talking about Joe's family or ours? Because Charlie sure is single and is likely to stay that way until he dies!!

  10. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the book. Sounds like, with your husband's family, you could definitely relate to the book's themes of life in Catholic, Italian-American culture. What you said about names was interesting. Kind of reminds me of names in Dances with Wolves, which I was watching yesterday: Kicking Bird, Stands-with-a-Fist...

    I enjoy reading about people's religions and faith, too, not just in a personal sense, but in how it influences their family or culture.

    There's a recent book out called Stumbling on Happiness that claims that we can never predict what will make us happy. But it posits that among all variables, the two things that most make us most happy are marriage and religion--not personal faith, but religion. No doubt that's not true in everybody's experience--sometimes it's just the opposite, but I thought it was interesting.
  11. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I'll bet my wife would be interested in that show. She didn't grow up in a Catholic family, but she converted to Catholicism after college. I grew up Presbyterian and always tease her that Luther was right.

    I'd love to take a World Religions class too.
    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2007]
  12. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    like Rock I almost 'gave up the ghost' but at page 150 started to quite enjoy it.

    I couldnt get the character of B - should have been a woman, I kept thinking he was a woman.

    It was a piece of light reading but I skipped lots and prefer it when I want to read every word.

    There was too much too decor 'speak' and too much religion even though I too enjoy reading about different faiths.

    If I lived in the city, was healthy and could afford it, the theatre would be my passion but I dont and I cant so it isnt. My passions are my family, my kitties.

    I preferred Lucia Lucia by the same author but think I'm all Adriana Trigianni out. This book wasnt for me.


    [This Message was Edited on 06/29/2007]
  13. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    about B. I almost forgot since it was so long since I read the book, but I also had a difficult time getting B. I am used to A. T. having female main characters and couldn't get used to B being a guy. I actually didn't decide I even liked him until about half way through the book.

    I still ended up enjoying the book, but it is my least favorited of her novels. And I did skip over much of the deocorating stuff.

    I can really understand if a person wasn't Catholic why they wouldn't enjoy it as much as well. That's one of the reasons I liked it, but if I wasn't Catholic or familiar with the Fatima miracles, there wouldn't have been as much to enjoy.

    If the book was a movie I imagined Toot being played by an actress whose first name is Mercedes, can't remember her last name. I couldn't come up with an actor who could play B.
  14. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I'll give the other books a shot, sometimes its good to have some light reading and I really did like Lucia Lucia.

  15. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    It's interesting when male authors try to write first person novels from the point-of-view of female characters, and vice versa.

    Can you think of any good books, besides classics like Henry James' novels, in which the writers do this successfully?

  16. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I was wondering that myself but brain fog set in.....will think about it though as I believe that was the problem with this book.

  17. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    was written by a young woman and was about a group of young teen boys. Her name is S. E. Hinton. It was a book that was required reading when I was in High school. I think she used her initials because she didn't want anyone to know she was female.
  18. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    read a book by Maeve Binchy. She's pretty good at writing as a man or woman. In fact, I nominate this book as one of our selections.

    It is a novel, but it's like a book of short stories too. Each chapter stands on it's own. So might be good for some of our members who have trouble reading a long book.

    Many of the characters appear in more than one chapter. Or an event is described from two different viewpoints.

    She has written several novels. I think they are all set in Ireland.

    The name of this book is "Whitethorn Woods". Came out last year.

  19. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    And I havent' read this one yet. Let's put this one on our next voting list for sure!
  20. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Rock and Dar, please remind me to put Whitethorn Woods in the vote for September.
    [This Message was Edited on 06/30/2007]