Notting Hill Napoleons, has enjoyed a special retreat every November. First at a bed & breakfast in Denison, Iowa and then for the last 12 years at the Whispering Pines B&B in Nebraska City, we have taken over the whole facility for an entire weekend. We converse and pray together, cook our own meals, check out what's happening in the town, play games or put together puzzles, sit around bonfires, and conduct two very important orders of literary business; namely, we go through a rather elaborate process in order to select the books we will be reading in the coming year, and we discuss our November selection which is always a Charles Dickens novel.
The hosts were friendly; the meal was fine; and the room included a nice fire going which made for a pleasant setting for our discussion. We have read all of the Dickens novels through the years and so this was our second time around with Martin Chuzzlewit. Still, for several reasons, it hadn't been an easy read. For instance, we had cut it too close to last month's book and none of us had enough time to comfortably get through the 887 pages.
By the way, for those of you who like to keep track of what the Notting Hill Napoleons select for reading material, the 2017 list is below. Sadly, I must say that my fondest hope was again not realized this year, that hope being a return of the Notting Hill Napoleons to reading the A-level classics that we did in our first 15 years or so (Dumas, Dostoevsky, Hugo, Shakespeare, Scott, Solzhenitsyn, et al). Still, it looks like there's some good reading and discussions for 2017.
And, of course, it always beats watching television!
January — Ice Palace (Edna Ferber)
February — Trustee from the Toolroom (Nevil Shute)
March — The Fateful Lightning (Jeff Shaara)
April — The Meaning of Names (Karen Shoemaker)
May — All The Kings Men (Robert Penn Warren)
June —Riders of The Purple Sage (Zane Grey)
July — Mutiny on the Bounty (Charles Nordhoff )
August — The Gates of Doom (Rafael Sabatini)
September — The Frozen Hours (Jeff Shaara)
October — Good Bye Mr. Chips (James Hilton)
November — Dombey and Son (Charles Dickens)
December — The Golden Ring (John Snyder)