Mari Partyka | Bookworm with a View

Book Club... on a train


After almost a year without discussing a book, my book club met in November. We will start meeting again in 2016. 

Early November, several of us met for a long weekend.  We decided to read a book and have an in-person discussion. We discussed the book in small conversations throughout the weekend.  It's safe to say - most of our book discussion happened on the train ride to Penn Station. 

We read Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain

Why we picked it
I wanted to read it after listening to an author interview late summer. I was interested in the overlap with the 'Out of Africa', to learn about a woman with a strong connection to Denys but excluded from Out of Africa.  This made sense to me, Out of Africa is not Denys' story, it's Karen's.  Have you read it? Seen the movie? 

Circling the Sun (Synopsis)
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

This book wasn't what I expected.  As I read the book, I felt so sad for Beryl.  She had a hard life, filled with consequences from poor decisions (and also decisions without good options).  Her son's life, the husbands, love affairs, and quest to be independent while searching for unconditional love. Tragic right?  Reading about the end of her life didn't help, it's such a sad story.

Comments from others in my book club:
- It's sad to read about someone's life, a sad life.  I couldn't believe how her second marriage ended...

- I found the settings, time period, and unusual activities of her life quite fascinated, especially knowing it's true.  The author somehow made this very strong woman seem lost and weak.

We didn't love the sadness of Beryl's life but it's so important to remember life was full of obstacles.

January selection: The Year of Living Biblically
Discover what life would be like in the 21st century if you lived precisely by the dictates of the Bible—the insights gained about religion might surprise you. 

Based on a lively discussion on the train into NYC, everyone is excited to read and discuss this book.  Have you read it? 

What is  your book club reading?
Share 0

You've got mail

Hello Friends,

I adore the movie You've Got Mail, have you watched it?  Strolling the streets of NYC, bouquets of pencils... with Thanksgiving just weeks away I need to watch it again soon.

This my third post in November... my way of sending you mail {wink}. 

Over the summer I researched web design options that allow me to update book reviews while providing a journal/article space. I made the change last week. If you haven't clicked to the blog in November, please do and let me know if you like the new format. Special thanks to Chaitra, from Pink Pot Design, for building an easy to use design. 

Talking Turkey...
Thanksgiving is just two weeks away.  What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Last year we ran the Turkey Trot and hosted a 'more the merrier' Thanksgiving.

When I look at the photo below, I'm reminded of dietary restrictions, and personality conflicts. Cooking for six families, 25 people.  As the day approached, I discovered that some of the couples don't like each other, making for an interesting energy in the house.
We are not hosting Thanksgiving this year.  We will run the Turkey Trot, and enjoy a meal with friends.

It will be lovely.

Dare I say it... I spent thirty minutes looking at winter decorations on pinterest before getting out of bed this morning!  We will be traveling most of December but I want to create a festive mood for the couple house sitting. 

We are hosting an 80's theme holiday party this year. I need to start planning since it's just 24 days away. Should I channel Madonna or Molly Ringwald?  Dress up as who I was, or something fun and new? Maybe I should focus on the menu and get the rental order placed. Priorities(!)

I leave for Switzerland two days after the party {pinch me}. 

I'm listening to Note on a Scandal, and reading SelectionSelection is a genre I never read, dystopian.  Let's see how I do!

I can't believe I start training for London Marathon in thirty days. I lived in Minnesota when I trained for Boston Marathon, running e.v.e.r.y mile on a treadmill.  Living in New Jersey will let me do all of my training outside {whew}.

Earlier this week I entered the lottery for NYC half marathon in March.  *Fingers crossed*

Speaking of running, I need to get in a run before the rain starts.  I promise to check in soon!
         Much love, Mari

[ for up the minute updates: friend me on goodreads / follow me on Instagram ]
Share 2

Sometimes weekends start on Thursday's

Lovely friends,

I have a wonderful weekend to share today.

I met these women several years ago, through the Manic Mommies Book Club.  We used to meet as part of a larger annual retreat, hosted by Manic Mommies the first weekend in November, but this year I hosted a mini-escape.  

Navigating motherhood, careers, husbands and wives, finding our passions, and more... our connection is strong.  An unspoken support, without judgement, a safe place to talk honestly.

Seven women traveling from California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, New York, and Virginia - Four days - Three states.

A casual evening to settle in for a long weekend together.  We made flatbread pizza, nibbled on cheese and enjoyed bottles of wine (bonus: one of the gals husband's is a winemaker and shipped wine for us to enjoy).

Mimosa's and homemade Blueberry muffins post run, then off to enjoy Buck's County.  It was a humid 70-degree day, perfect for November!  We explored shoppes and sat outside for lunch. Bliss.

One foot in New Jersey, one foot in Pennsylvania!   

NYC here we come!  Up and out the door to catch the 9:23 train to Penn Station.  Walking from Penn Station to Times Square never gets old for me: the smell of the city, street vendors, lights, and dozens of characters walking the streets.  One of my friends mentioned 'sensory overload'.  NYC can do that, Times Square is electrifying.

Next up, a 2-1/2 hour hop on/off double-decker bus tour.  We were lucky to find seats on the top, to see the sights while relaxing and catching up.  I know Manhattan well, playing the role of tour guide several times a year, I highly recommend seeing the city this way.

Our tickets came with a free ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, a must see!  Pier 15, here we come.  An unexpected treat that made me happy.  We timed the ferry ride perfectly, the bus delivered us to The Highline at dusk.

Walking the elevated park back to Penn Station, to catch the 6:10 train.  Rather than eating in the city... we decided to have a pajama party and play games back at the house.  
We ordered two pizza's, took the train home, changed into lounge wear, drank wine, and played Cards Against Humanity.  When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? 

I woke up with swollen eyes, from laugh/crying so much the night before(!)

Before wrapping up an amazing weekend, we had one more thing to do.  I wanted to share one of my favorite things, a trail hike.

Ending an amazing weekend with the gift of friendship, getting to know these women at a deeper level, and forming an unbreakable bond thanks to CAH.

I can't forget to share the thoughtful and creative gifts!
Without discussion, everyone brought a small gift: personalized wine tags, handmade tote bags, candles, and more.  My friends surprised me with a lovely hostess gift(!), they each selected a favorite book and included a note explaining its significance.

Below is a photo with the books, should you be looking for a recommendation. 
The weekend hangover included loads of laundry (twelve to be exact), cleaning out the refrigerator, and putting the house back in order.  Not a big job, just busy work.  My reward... I discovered an open bottle of champagne with enough for one glass!

Can you think of a better end to an amazing weekend? 
Share 3