Thanks so much for coming along on our latest Read With Us adventure. I just love talking about books with other readers. And it makes my heart happy when you pick up a book to . . . read with us . . . and then take the time to discuss it with us, too.

A week ago, we hosted the book discussion for our latest selection, The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell, on our blogs and then with a lively Zoom meet-up in the evening. The discussions were interesting and engaging, and I think it’s safe to say . . . our readers generally liked the book (although some readers liked it a lot more than others).

And that’s what’s so great about a book group! Each of us brings our own personal history, tastes, and experiences to the discussion — not to mention our preferences for character development, storyline, pacing, setting, and language. It’s always interesting to hear what other readers have to say about the book we’ve all just read.

Which brings me to the wrap-up.

I think it’s safe to say that all of our Read With Us readers enjoyed the book, and particularly appreciated Maggie O’Farrell’s writing. (She really can set the scene, y’know?) The story was somewhat intense, which had some of our readers flipping pages quickly so they could get to the end and find out what happened . . . but also had some of our readers needing to slow the pace by putting the book down now and again for a little breather.

We had an excellent discussion about historical fiction (as a genre). It is impossible for readers today – sporting their quite trendy 21st century “lenses” – to get a true sense of what life had been like for the characters we’re reading about. We are quite apt to project our own, modern-day sensibilities onto . . . oh, say . . .  a certain young duchess struggling through early married life in a treacherous Italian court in 1561. It’s impossible to know for sure what it must have been like to be in her skin . . . but we can enjoy imagining – and talking about it together!

We also discussed strict societal roles, the privilege of being raised at court, how dreadful life was for most people in Renaissance Italy, motherhood, innocence, captivity, treachery, and who was the bigger cad: Alfonso or his henchman.

Book groups . . . are the best!

Thanks so much for coming along and for choosing to Read With Us.
And stay tuned . . . we’ll be announcing our winter selection . . . next week!


(And if you took part in the Zoom and you’d like to share some of our discussion highlights in the comments, please feel free to do so.)