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April 5: Alice McDermott, Absolution. ISBN 9780374610487. The national trauma of the Vietnam War is experienced by two American women in Saigon in 1963. Both of whom are peripherally involved in the war but affected by it nonetheless. Both are caught between their sense of obligation to support their husbands’ more direct involvement in the war and their increasing commitment to the people of Vietnam. Years later, they reunite, and reevaluate their role in the war, and in their marriages.

May 3: Lauren Groff, The Vaster Wilds. ISBN 9780593418390. This novel by a three-times National Book Award finalist takes the reader on a journey to the past, Virginia in the 1600s, and into the wilderness. While the adventure story usually focuses on a male protagonist, the central character here is a young servant girl who escapes from a colonial settlement to strike out on her own. The physical journey in fiction almost always involves a psychological journey as well, as the Amazon reviewer hints: the novel “tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history.”

May 31: Jayne Anne Phillips, Night Watch. ISBN 9780451493330. The infelicitously named Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is the setting for a post-Civil War story of a mother, a daughter, and their quest for independence. It is 1874, and options for the twelve-year-old and her mother are few, especially since the mother does not speak and relies on her child to play the adult role. But ironically the asylum provides them with a community of sorts not available elsewhere in the chaotic outside world

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About the lecturer(s)

Margaret Hallissy

Margaret Hallissy is Professor of English with specialties in medieval literature, Irish literature, and the modern phenomenon of “book groups,” which have sprung up in communities throughout the nation. She has written numerous articles and scholarly books, including works on book group procedures and leadership, as well as Irish-American fiction.

Lecture Details



3 lecture(s)
Day & Time

Friday, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Apr 05, 2024
May 03, 2024
May 31, 2024