Upcoming meetings, all are welcome! Please RSVP to Dawn at Dawntonneau@gmail.com for location and discussion questions.
July 27, 7 pm
“Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”. By Erica Armstrong Dunbar
A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful story about a daring woman of “extraordinary grit” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.
Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, she was denied freedom. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.
“A crisp and compulsively readable feat of research and storytelling” (USA TODAY), historian and National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked everything to gain freedom from the famous founding father and most powerful man in the United States at the time.
August 24, 7 pm
“Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver takes a literary classic and makes it her own, peering into the dark corners not of Dickensian England, but of present day in the neglected hollers of Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. Damon Fields, nicknamed Demon Copperhead, came into the world already behind the eight ball of life, and before long he’s in foster care placements that resemble work camps more than loving homes. Throughout this coming-of-age novel, the rug is constantly pulled out from under him but Demon has reserves of Olympian endurance that somehow, like the man in the arena, enables him to get back up again and again. His knees get dusty—he faces hunger, cruelty, loss, and is swept up in the tidal wave of OxyContin that overtakes his tiny county—but he never loses his love for the place that claims him as its own. Kingsolver’s writing is arresting and illuminating; in baring Demon’s soul on the page she gives voice and visibility to a place and its people where beauty and desperation live side by side. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
“Demon is a voice for the ages—akin to Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield—only even more resilient. I’m crazy about this book, which parses the epidemic in a beautiful and intimate new way. I think it’s her best.” — Beth Macy, author of Dopesick
“An Appalachian David Copperfield. . . . Demon Copperhead reimagines Dickens’s story in a modern-day rural America contending with poverty and opioid addiction. . . . .Kingsolver and Dickens overlap: both of them exuberant writers of social novels with a strong political message and a concern for the lower classes. . . . Kingsolver’s novel sweeps you along just as powerfully as the original does.” — New York Times
“Brilliant. . . . A page turner and Kingsolver’s best novel by far. . . . Kingsolver has some of Mark Twain in her, along with 21st-century gifts of her own. More than ever, she is our literary mirror and window. May this novel be widely read and championed.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“May be the best novel of 2022…Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this is the story of an irrepressible boy nobody wants, but readers will love….You may be reminded of another orphaned boy slipping through the country’s underbrush, just trying to stay out of trouble: Huck Finn. With Demon, Kingsolver has created an outcast equally reminiscent of Twain’s masterpiece, speaking in the natural poetry of the American vernacular….Kingsolver’s best demonstration yet of a novel’s ability to simultaneously entertain and move and plead for reform.”
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
“If you’re familiar with the Charles Dickens classic, you’ll follow the story’s beats and chuckle….What keeps you turning the pages is the knowledge that Demon has a future. The novel ends on a note of hope…not every fate is decided by the circumstances of one’s birth.” — Associated Press
“There’s really nothing like being immersed in a Kingsolver novel. . . . Damon [is Kingsolver’s] bravest, most ambitious creation yet.” — Los Angeles Times
“Kingsolver’s capacious, ingenious, wrenching, and funny survivor’s tale is a virtuoso present-day variation on Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. . . . Kingsolver’s tour de force is a serpentine, hard-striking tale of profound dimension and resonance.” — Booklist (Starred Review)
“An epic…brimming with vitality and outrage….the rare 560-page book you wish would never end.”
— People “Book of the Week”!
“With its bold reversals of fate and flamboyant cast, this is storytelling on a grand scale. . . . As Demon discovers, owning his story—every part of it—and finding a way to tell it is how he’ll wrest some control over his life. And what a story it is: acute, impassioned, heartbreakingly evocative, told by a narrator who’s a product of multiple failed systems, yes, but also of a deep rural landscape with its own sustaining traditions.” — The Guardian
“Extraordinary. . . . Much like Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain or Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Kingsolver’s epic is narrated by a self-professed screwup with a heart of gold . . . chock-full of cinematic twists and turns. It’s a book that demands we start paying attention to—and embracing—a long-ignored community and its people.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Kingsolver’s new novel is her best in years. . . . The character of Damon is right up there with the best classic orphans of literatre. Believe me: you will root for this lost boy.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“In Demon Copperhead…Kingsolver channels the voice of a disenfranchised boy lost in the failures of our social system. It’s a testament to her storytelling mastery that this novel also illustrates how deeply intertwined our attitudes about nature are with our collective destiny. As always, her purpose is to make us think about the ways we all must look out for each other.” — Arizona Republic