Sunday, July 27, 2014

Not Very Bohemian

I went on vacation right after book club this month, which means I didn't get a post up about it right away, when things were fresh.  Which is too bad, because it was a great meeting--the book, Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia, was a good read.  It wasn't the deepest book ever, but it had a lot going on and was fun.

The story is easily summarized: a high school Statewide music conference takes place in a battered old hotel in the Catskills.  The musicians, their teachers, the hotel staff, and other guests are snowed in, and there are shenanigans as well as danger afoot.

Let's see if I can remember any of my good questions about it. Caution: I don't remember most of the characters' names, but I should still be able to explain what I'm talking about.

1) Which of the various and interesting plot twists did you see coming? I don't want to give things away, but there are a number of revelations, some of which I suspected (the end of Jill's story) and some of which I didn't (the concierge's story).

2) What did you think of the tone of the book?  Did you find that starting out with Alice and Rabbit set the tone as kind of a coming of age story?  How did the aspects of real physical danger--the death and murder and physical threats--fit with the more getting-along-in-high-school elements of the story?

3) Related: the tension over the possibility of this being a ghost story was interesting.  Was it misleading, or just the right amount to keep you on your toes?

4) None of the teachers/chaperones who were featured seemed particularly attached to teaching; they were all musicians who had defaulted to teaching after giving up professional music for one reason or another.  On one hand, this seems like the kind of thing that is particularly likely to be true in music (more than it would be for, say, science teachers).  On the other, it removes the idea of sharing and teaching music from the book--only one character has any real sense that it's worth something to pass this on to the kids.  Are the connections between the kids and adults and their music realistic? Sad? Is there a cautionary tale there?

5) What do you think about the bad guy being a flat out sociopath?  Does this seem like an oversimplification?  Do you think the internal monologue of that person (the short access you get to it) seems like what that kind of person's head really sounds like?

6) Seriously, how sad is that hotel?  Don't you kind of just want to go on vacation there to throw them a little business?

7) Were the Shining references too heavy handed?  Or were they inevitable, since the reader couldn't avoid making them so the characters might as well?  (Hint: I vote the latter.)  And was the bigger, more dramatic homage at the end a bridge too far?

8) What did  you think of the chaperone's relatively unresolved plotline?  Appropriate?  How do you think things are going to end up there?

That's all for now!  Next month for book club: Code Name Verity, which I've already read but am thrilled to read again and talk about!

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