Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is library moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
As you may remember from previous episodes of Library Moments, we have started up an online book club which you can access 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
Today Catherine Coles, Amanda Wilk and I are here to discuss books with flowers in their title, which was our book club theme for May. As always, we’d like to hear from you so please join us online and fill us in on your thoughts.
April showers bring May flowers, right? It is surprising the mix of books with flowers in their titles. This month’s selection is:
A Hatred for Tulips by Richard Lourie
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
It is a sparsely written fictional account of the story of the boy who betrayed Anne Frank and her family, turning them over to the Nazis for money in order to feed his own starving family.
I usually enjoy reading fictional accounts of historical events, especially when the books focus on individuals and human aspects of the story, rather than historical event on a grand scale. So A Hatred for Tulips was a title that should have appealed to my tastes as a reader, but it really did not.
I think the greatest reason why I didn’t enjoy it, was that I felt the characters, and in particular, the story’s narrator Joop to be quite indifferent to both World War II, and his own actions that led to the deaths of innocent people.
World War II started when Joop was a boy, and at first it seemed as though he and his friends saw it as an adventure, but as the story went on, I found him to be a cold and somewhat distant narrator because he seemed very indifferent to everything that was unfolding around him.
A lot of surface level introspection takes place in A Hatred for Tulips, but I never found Joop to be an empathetic or sympathetic character, despite the fact that he must endure living in a very difficult family, during a horrendous time.
Catherine Coles, Branch Services Librarian: I think the intention of A Hatred For Tulips was to provide a slice of life of the civilian experience in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. Not everyone was a hero…and I appreciate a book like A Hatred For Tulips because it is honest about this. Yes, Joop seemed indifferent but he was a child growing up in a desperate situation. My guess is that in some respect indifference would have been the norm, even if just as a coping mechanism. Surely the atrocities of the Holocaust wouldn’t have escalated without mass indifference. So, in my opinion, the character of Joop written as it was, was actually quite effective and his apparent disconnect made an even greater impact on me as a reader. He was believable!
Bessie: The book I choose to read was Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Suzanne Vreeland. The story traces the history of a painting by the Dutch master Vermeer through its various owners. The story goes back in time starting with the present day and goes from owner to owner back to the creation of the painting. It could be seen as grouping of short stories, the only thing each story has in common is the painting. It reminded me in style of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks that follows an ancient illuminated text through history telling the story of the people who come in contact with it. The other book I was reminded of reading this was the Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier because it too is about the creation of a Vermeer painting.
To join the HCPL Online Book Club, visit our website at www.haliburtonlibrary.ca and follow the specified link. June’s theme is books with “June” in their title. We look forward to engaging in discussion will all of you enthusiastic readers. This was Library Moments, thanks for tuning in here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
* Originally aired on 100.9 Canoe FM from May 27th-June 3rd