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New Leaf Vote for December 2019 • The End of the Road: Finales
#1  issybird 11-07-2019, 07:14 AM
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Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in December 2019.

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but in the interest of a vibrant conversation, we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.

This is a image » poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

Choices:

Ending Up by Kingsley Amis
$US9.99, $C11.19, £2.99, $A14.99
Spoiler Warning below






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At Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage in the English countryside, five elderly people live together in rancorous disharmony. Adela Bastable bosses the house, as her brother Bernard passes his days thinking up malicious schemes against the baby-talking Marigold and secret drinker Shorty, while kindly George lies bedridden upstairs. The mismatched quintet keep their spirits alive by bickering and waiting for grandchildren to visit at Christmas. But the festive season does not herald goodwill to all at Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage. Disaster and chaos, it seems, are just around the corner ...

Told with Amis's piercing wit and humanity, Ending Up (1974) is a wickedly funny black comedy of the indignities of old age.
145 pp.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
US$11.33; CA$10.99; AU$12.99; UK£4.99
Spoiler Warning below






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Graham Greene’s masterful novel of love and betrayal in World War II London is “undeniably a major work of art” (The New Yorker).

Maurice Bendrix, a writer in Clapham during the Blitz, develops an acquaintance with Sarah Miles, the bored, beautiful wife of a dull civil servant named Henry. Maurice claims it’s to divine a character for his novel-in-progress. That’s the first deception. What he really wants is Sarah, and what Sarah needs is a man with passion. So begins a series of reckless trysts doomed by Maurice’s increasing romantic demands and Sarah’s tortured sense of guilt. Then, after Maurice miraculously survives a bombing, Sarah ends the affair—quickly, absolutely, and without explanation. It’s only when Maurice crosses paths with Sarah’s husband that he discovers the fallout of their duplicity—and it’s more unexpected than Maurice, Henry, or Sarah herself could have imagined.

Adapted for film in both 1956 and 1999, Greene’s novel of all that inspires love—and all that poisons it—is “singularly moving and beautiful” (Evelyn Waugh).
200 pp.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
US$9.99, CA$10.99, GB£7.99, AU$14.99
Spoiler Warning below






Synopsis from Kobo:
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"On the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house - or houses, that is. Cleans them right off the face of the earth. They all go."

What if mankind disappeared right now, forever ... what would happen to the Earth in a week, a year, a millennium? Could the planet's climate ever recover from human activity? How would nature destroy our huge cities and our myriad plastics? And what would our final legacy be?

Speaking to experts in fields as diverse as oil production and ecology, and visiting the places that have escaped recent human activity to discover how they have adapted to life without us, Alan Weisman paints an intriguing picture of the future of Earth. Exploring key concerns of our time, this absorbing thought experiment reveals a powerful - and surprising - picture of our planet's future.
324 pp.

Every Man Dies Alone (aka Alone in Berlin) by Hans Fallada
Amazon U.S. $12.99; Amazon CA, CA $9.88; Amazon UK £4.99; Amazon AU $14.99; Kobo U.S. $12.99; Kobo CA $13.59; Kobo UK, £4.99; Kobo AU $14.99
Spoiler Warning below






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Based on a true story, this never-before-translated masterpiece was overlooked for years after its author—a bestselling writer before World War II who found himself in a Nazi insane asylum at war’s end—died just before it was published.

In a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis, it tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Third Reich, Otto and Anna Quangel launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.

In the end, Every Man Dies Alone is more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more than a moving romance, even more than literature of the highest order—it’s a deeply stirring story of two people standing up for what’s right, and for each other.

This edition includes an afterword detailing the gripping history of the book and its author, including excerpts from the Gestapo file on the real-life couple that inspired it.
546 pp.

Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case by Agatha Christie
US$10; AU$11; CA$12
Spoiler Warning below






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A wheelchair-bound Poirot returns to Styles, the venue of his first investigation, where he knows another murder is going to take place… The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara , Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. So Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the ageing detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?…
215 pp.

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
US$9.59; CA$12.79; AU$10.55
Spoiler Warning below






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Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet...
Hagar Shipley – an irascible, independent nonagenarian – has lived a quiet life full of rage.....
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The Stone Angel is a compelling journey seen through the eyes of a woman nearing the end of her life. At ninety, Hagar Shipley speaks movingly of the perils of growing old and reflects with bitterness, humor, and a painful awareness of her own frailties on the life she has led. From her childhood as the daughter of a respected merchant, to her rebellious marriage, Hagar has fought a long and sometimes misguided battle for independence and respect. In the course of examining and trying to understand the shape her life has taken, her divided feelings about her husband, her passionate attachment to one son and her neglect of another, she is sometimes regretful, but rarely penitent. Asking forgiveness from neither God nor those around her, she must still wrestle with her own nature: "Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear." She has been afraid of being unrespectable, afraid of needing too much, afraid of giving too much, and her pride is both disturbing and inspiring. The Stone Angel is an excellent example of the realism and compassion present in all of Margaret Laurence's writing. -
328 pp.

The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
AmazonUS $7.99; AmazonUK £5.99; AmazonCA $12.99 AmazonAU $9.99
Spoiler Warning below






Quote Amazon
For a year, the murder of Mrs. Yvonne Harrison at her home in Oxfordshire had baffled the Thames Valley CID. The manner of her death--her naked handcuffed body left lying in bed--matched her reputation as a women of adventuresome sexual tastes. The case seemed perfect for Inspector Morse. So why has he refused to become involved--even after anonymous hints of new evidence, even after a fresh murder? Sgt. Lewis's loyalty to his infuriating boss slowly turns to deep distress as his own investigations suggest that Mrs. Harrison was no stranger to Morse. Far from it. Never has Morse performed more brilliantly than in this final adventure, whose masterly twists and turns through the shadowy byways of passion grip us to the death. . . .
332 pp.
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#2  gmw 11-07-2019, 08:37 AM
This is one of those good months for me: I don't really care which book gets voted in, even the ones I've already read I will be happy to read again. (Although for Curtain I'd have liked to have read the other Poirot's more recently as I seem to remember there was something in one of them that presaged what was coming in this - intentionally or not, I don't know - but now I can't remember which one it was.)
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#3  Victoria 11-07-2019, 05:47 PM
Sorry gmw, it’s been decades since I’ve read the Poirots, so I can’t offer you a clue

I’ve tried to keep my votes to under 50% the last 3 months, though it means passing on some great options. And I added a couple of books that weren’t fully nominated to my tbr list.
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#4  issybird 11-07-2019, 05:59 PM
Quote gmw
(Although for Curtain I'd have liked to have read the other Poirot's more recently as I seem to remember there was something in one of them that presaged what was coming in this - intentionally or not, I don't know - but now I can't remember which one it was.)
Quote Victoria
Sorry gmw, it’s been decades since I’ve read the Poirots, so I can’t offer you a clue
I think I saw something that said that Curtain refers back to the first Poirot mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. That title is public domain in the US and readily available.
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#5  gmw 11-07-2019, 06:21 PM
Quote issybird
I think I saw something that said that Curtain refers back to the first Poirot mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. That title is public domain in the US and readily available.
Yes, the book has the same setting as the first, but there was something else about the mystery itself that I think Poirot mentions in another book ... unless I'm imagining it.
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#6  Catlady 11-08-2019, 12:19 PM
It didn't register till now, but, wow, these books all seem like they're going to be real downers for the holiday season.
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#7  CRussel 11-08-2019, 01:22 PM
Well, I've voted for well more than 1/2, against my usual preference, and, frankly, I could have voted for every one of them. I know at least a couple of these that most likely will not win, plus at least one that didn't get through the nomination process, are headed to my new Oasis for reading in the near term.

And yes, Catlady, there is a bit of downer in several of these. Probably the nature of the topic. And while it is a holiday season, it's also the end of the year, and the time of the longest dark, so that seems appropriate.
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#8  issybird 11-08-2019, 01:34 PM
Quote Catlady
It didn't register till now, but, wow, these books all seem like they're going to be real downers for the holiday season.
Quote CRussel

And yes, Catlady, there is a bit of downer in several of these. Probably the nature of the topic.
Yes, I had the same realization. Oh, well. As an aside, does anyone else find a lot of Christmas movies to be really lugubrious? It's a Wonderful Life, of course, and all the versions of A Christmas Carol. The Bishop's Wife. Going My Way. Miracle on 34th Street. I could go on. Even if they have a happy ending, as they always do, you've really suffered to get there. And the worst of all, Charlie Brown's Christmas, which always leaves me with the desire to drink myself into oblivion.

Ahem!

Quote
Well, I've voted for well more than 1/2, against my usual preference,
I went with just over half; the next cut was too hard.
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#9  Catlady 11-08-2019, 07:13 PM
Quote issybird
Yes, I had the same realization. Oh, well. As an aside, does anyone else find a lot of Christmas movies to be really lugubrious? It's a Wonderful Life, of course, and all the versions of A Christmas Carol. The Bishop's Wife. Going My Way. Miracle on 34th Street. I could go on. Even if they have a happy ending, as they always do, you've really suffered to get there. And the worst of all, Charlie Brown's Christmas, which always leaves me with the desire to drink myself into oblivion.
I like Christmas movies--old ones, anyway; I ignore the sappy Hallmark-type ones. It's not Christmas without George Bailey and Clarence the angel. I also almost always watch Miracle on 34th Street and The Bells of St. Mary's too. Usually I just catch bits and pieces of the other classic Christmas films, preferably the B&W ones (I do love Meet Me in St. Louis, though).

And I LOVE Charlie Brown!
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#10  gmw 11-08-2019, 08:48 PM
I'm sort of hoping that The World Without Us will not be a downer (I've already bought it). Aside from the starting premise that we humans are gone, I'm really hoping that what follows is sort of hopeful, that the world could recover from us, because if that is still true then maybe we humans could find our way to doing some of that healing while we are still here.
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