Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moving Portrait of Family Strength and Integrity Amongst the Green Hills of Wales

Bookenders Book Group will meet on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m. downstairs in the library. The featured book for the evening is How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. The discussion will be led by Etta McQuade.

How Green Was My Valley is Richard Llewellyn's bestselling -- and timeless -- classic and the basis of a beloved film.

The novel is set in South Wales during the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of the Morgans, a poor but respectable mining family of the South Wales Valleys, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw Morgan.
Huw's academic ability sets him apart from his elder brothers and enables him to consider a future away from this troubled industrial environment. His five brothers and his father are miners.

Drawn simply and lovingly, with a crisp Welsh humor, Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people. The simplicity of the language and its delicately strange flavor give the book added charm.

"A story of exquisite distinction and vibrant interest; clear and strong as the music under the sky." -- The New York Times Book Review

Richard Llewellyn (real name Richard David Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd) was a Welsh novelist.

Llewellyn was born of Welsh parents in Hendon, north London in 1906.
In a writing career spanning 43 years, Llewellyn wrote twenty-four novels. Several of them dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Valley (1939) which won international acclaim. His writing career focused on the village communities of Wales, particularly the mining community. It immortalized the way of life in the South Wales valley coal mining communities, where Llewellyn spent a small amount of time with his grandfather. Three sequels followed.

He loved to travel and did it often. Before World War II, he spent periods working in hotels, wrote a play, worked as a coal miner and produced his best known novel. During World War II, he rose to the rank of Captain in the Welsh Guards. Following the war, he worked as a journalist, covering the Nuremberg Trials, and then as a screenwriter for MGM. Late in his life, he lived in Eilat, Israel.
Llewellyn was married twice. The first marriage to Nona Sonstenby, after sixteen years, ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Susan Heimann, in 1974 and this marriage lasted until his death. He died on November 30, 1983.

"How Green Was My Valley", John Ford's beautiful, heartfelt drama about a close-knit family of Welsh coal miners, based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, can be found at the library. It is one of the greatest films of Hollywood's golden age--a gentle masterpiece that won Best Picture at the 1941 Academy Awards.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Great Reads for Girls will be meet on Thursday, November 16 at 7 p.m. downstairs at the library. Plan now to join us for this fun evening.

We will be discussing A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias dreams of playing a baby grand piano at Carnegie Hall. But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises--and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.

Linda Urban
 Linda Urban was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in a house in the suburbs that looked like all the other houses on her street.

 She wanted to be different — to shine, to have people see her as special. She tried ballet dancing and singing and playing musical instruments, but she wasn’t very good at any of those things. Writing stories was fun! And often people liked what she wrote.

At Oakbrook Elementary, she wrote lots of poems and stories. Nothing made her feel more special than hearing an audience cheer for a character she had written. So she kept writing. All through elementary school and junior high she wrote short stories and plays and poems.

By college, she had turned her writing toward advertising and marketing, using her creativity to sell the creative work of others. It landed me at Vroman’s Bookstore, a large independent in Southern California, where I served as marketing director for about ten years. What a great job! She was surrounded every day by books and authors and artists and readers. One of her responsibilities was to organize author events. She met thousands of writers.  

Finally, when her daughter turned two and she turned 37, she got the guts to try writing fiction again. Having a child brought her back to reading the kinds of books that she most loved, books for kids. As much as she enjoys reading grown-up books, it is kids’ books that grab her heart.

Reading those books gave her inspiration.

And so, when she sat down to write, the stories that spilled out were the kind she loved best, books for young readers. So far, she has written a picture book titled Mouse Was Mad and two chapter books titled A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Hound Dog True.

She lives with her family in Montpelier, Vermont