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February 11, 2008

Missed Opportunity

Posted by webmaster
Our first post is appropriately from Shannon McKenna Schmidt, a former staffer here at The Book Report Network who worked on the initial launch of and continues to contribute to the site today. This first week I am going to jump in with a few postings and by next week the team of early contributors that we have assembled will start writing. --- Carol Fitzgerald

I missed my book club's first gathering of the year due to a last-minute work obligation. My belated resolution for 2008: That will be the last get-together that does not include me. I've been a member of the same reading group for a dozen years. It's comprised of a smart, interesting and wonderful cast of characters (we all used to work for the same publishing company). I look forward to our meetings for the camaraderie and the discussions. And since we take turns selecting a book and present the choice monthly, I also enjoy the anticipation of finding out what we'll be reading next.

This time I was dismayed not to have the chance to discuss the current pick: Away by Amy Bloom. Maybe it was because I had approached Away not as a solitary experience, as is most of my reading, but with the understanding that I would be talking about the novel with fellow bibliophiles. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to know what the other members thought of the book. Did it coincide, I wondered, with my own opinions about Bloom's writing style (engaging and descriptive) and her use of a plot device that I thought was particularly effective (and a kindness to readers who often wonder what might have happened after the story concludes)? Were they as taken as I was by the plight of the main character, Lillian, who escapes tragedy in one country only to find herself in dire circumstances in another? And ultimately, did they experience a sense of disappointment at the story's ending?

Whatever one's thoughts about Away, it's a book that begs to be discussed, and I lost the chance to do so. Lesson learned. I'll be there for our conversation about Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and eagerly anticipate the other literary treasures in store for 2008.

---Shannon McKenna Schmidt