Book Discussion Group
About the Group
Founded in 1988, the Bucks County Community College Book Discussion Group meets from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month during the academic year. Titles range from fiction to nonfiction, classics to recent publications, and are selected by group participants twice a year: in June for the fall semester and December for the spring semester. Discussions are moderated by Language & Literature Professor Michael Hennessey. The meetings are free and open to the public.
Discussions now take place live online using the Zoom web-conferencing tool. A limited number of spaces are available each month. If you are interested in joining a discussion, please contact Prof. Hennessey at firstname.lastname@example.org at least a week in advance of the date.
Spring 2024 Selections
Jan 11 - The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann (288 pages).
“From the author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a page-turning story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth. The powerful narrative reveals the deeper meaning of the events on The Wager, showing that it was not only the captain and crew who ended up on trial, but the very idea of empire. The Wager is a grand tale of human behavior at the extremes told by one of our greatest nonfiction writers. Grann’s recreation of the hidden world on a British warship rivals the work of Patrick O’Brian, his portrayal of the castaways’ desperate straits stands up to the classics of survival writing such as The Endurance, and his account of the court martial has the savvy of a Scott Turow thriller. As always with Grann’s work, the incredible twists of the narrative hold the reader spellbound.”
Feb 8 – Master Slave Husband Wife by Ilyon Woo (416 pp).
“The remarkable true story of Ellen and William Craft, who escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled White man and William posing as “his” slave. In 1848, a year of international democratic revolt, a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North . . . But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began, as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States, their lives and thousands more on the line and the stakes never higher. With three epic journeys compressed into one monumental bid for freedom, Master Slave Husband Wife is an American love story—one that would challenge the nation’s core precepts of life, liberty, and justice for all—one that challenges us even now.”
March 14 – 5. The Gathering by Anne Enright (260 pp).
“Anne Enright is a dazzling writer of international stature and one of Ireland’s most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family and a shot of fresh blood into the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him—something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light. The Gathering is a daring, witty, and insightful family epic, clarified through Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is a novel about love and disappointment, about how memories warp and secrets fester, and how fate is written in the body, not in the stars.”
April 11 – North Woods by Daniel Mason (384pp).
“When two young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, little do they know that their humble cabin in the woods will become the home of an extraordinary succession of human and nonhuman characters alike. An English soldier, destined for glory, abandons the battlefields of the New World to devote himself to growing apples. A pair of spinster twins navigate war and famine, envy and desire. A crime reporter unearths an ancient mass grave—only to discover that the earth refuse to give up their secrets. A lovelorn painter, a sinister con man, a stalking panther, a lusty beetle: As the inhabitants confront the wonder and mystery around them, they begin to realize that the dark, raucous, beautiful past is very much alive. This magisterial and highly inventive novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Daniel Mason brims with love and madness, humor and hope. Following the cycles of history, nature, and even language, North Woods shows the myriad, magical ways in which we’re connected to our environment, to history, and to one another. It is not just an unforgettable novel about secrets and destinies, but a way of looking at the world that asks the timeless question: How do we live on, even after we’re gone?”
May 9 – In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty (320 pp).
“A Catholic cop tracks a master IRA bomber amidst the sectarian violence of Northern Ireland. It's the early 1980s in Belfast. Sean Duffy, a conflicted Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), is recruited by MI5 to hunt down Dermot McCann, an IRA master bomber who has made a daring escape from the notorious Maze prison. In the course of his investigations Sean discovers a woman who may hold the key to Dermot's whereabouts; she herself wants justice for her daughter who died in mysterious circumstances in a pub locked from the inside. Sean knows that if he can crack the "locked-room mystery," the bigger mystery of Dermot's whereabouts might be revealed to him as a reward. Meanwhile the clock is ticking down to the Conservative Party conference in Brighton in 1984, where Mrs. Thatcher is due to give a keynote speech.”
June 13 – The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna (304 pp).
“Forna delivers a tale of a Croatian village after the War of Independence, and a family of newcomers who expose its secrets. Duro Kolak, a lifelong resident of the Croatian village discovers that a British family has taken up residence in a house Duro knows well. He offers his assistance and soon is helping get it ready as their summer cottage and serving as their trusted confidant. But the other residents are not as pleased to have the interlopers, and the volatile truths about the town’s past and the house’s former occupants whisper ever louder. The book evokes the poisonous atmosphere of culpability and denial from which civil conflicts emerge. Despite its depiction of brutality and betrayal, and despite a sense of menace, it is restrained because Forna’s focus is not violence and revenge, though there are elements of these in the novel. Her interest is how people live with each other after war. She portrays the atmosphere of festering tension in which perpetrators of the most grotesque acts of violence continue to live side by side. There is also an underlying theme of the British moving into Europe, oblivious of history and inherent dangers.”