Friday, February 24, 2006

Minutes 10/18/05


BOOK CLUB MEETING: Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
PRESENT: Amin Smith, Willow Pearce, Craig Harris
* The meeting was held at Willow’s home and began at 6:30PM with all current members present. Two new members had been anticipated but, again, neither could attend. It was therefore decided that a renewed effort be made to attract several new members. Craig was to recirculate the amended flyer for this purpose.
* As it was his turn next, Willow was nominated to select the next book. (N.B. Willow was unable to select a book and Amin assumed this responsibility.)
Our last selection, "Charlotte & Lionel" by Stanley Weintraub, was next for discussion.
All the members enjoyed this book about the Charlotte & Lionel Rothschild and the Rothschild family. As the central theme was a marriage between two cousins there was much debate over inter-marriage and health of the offspring. Here it was also questioned whether or not the central characters were truly in love or just in an arranged marriage? As there was no mention of romance it was accepted that the two were probably better friends than star-struck lovers.
Once again, the book’s subject matter led to a conversation on racism during the Victorian times. In this case we wondered what it was like to be a Jew, or, in this case – a very wealthy Jew? As this book was written by a Jew, it was noted that there was little mention of the true nature of prejudice against Rothschild and Jews in general. The book seemed to omit the ‘uglier’ side to this issue even though racism was a frequent them in the book vis-à-vis Lionel’s attempts to gain a seat in Parliament.
We also wondered about possessing such great wealth. Although Lionel was one of the richest men in the world we felt that he had no real friends. He was however a kind and generous man and did enjoy the respect of others.
We compared Charlotte to Pushkin’s wife in the last book we read. It was agreed that in comparison Charlotte was very level-headed. However, the couple did not seem to share the same passion as Pushkin did with his wife and this may explain her calming effect on his life.
There was finally some discussion on the modern Rothschild family and their business empire. There was a desire to research them and learn more.
There were two submissions to our ‘Page Turner/Page Burner’ segment. Craig presented a book on the Pennsylvania Underground Railroad. Reading more like a travel road map it was deemed a book to avoid. Amin brought ‘Freakonomics’ which was highlighted at the last meeting. He said that this look at the social effects of economic issues was a fascinating read and he recommended it. Additionally, he also brought ‘Bullshit’ which he said was also an interesting short book.
The next meeting was set for November 22nd at a location to be decided.

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