December Book Club Review

December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )


This month, the gals in the book club and I read The Zookeepers Wife by Diane Ackerman.  The book is based on the true-life story of a family in Poland in World War II that owned a zoo full of exotic and wild animals.  The zoo was visited by all of Warsaw until the war began and the German soldiers started moving and even killing the animals in order to clear out the zoo so they could use the space for their own purposes.  The family that owned the zoo, the Zabinskis, managed to keep the location useful to the Nazis while simultaneously smuggling Jews and other “war criminals” out to safety, right under the soldiers’ noses.  It’s a fascinating story about bravery, friendship and heroics in the middle of a traumatic war and it was even more interesting to me as a student of museums and zoos in general.  Seeing how they handled such a situation was an eye-opener and made me think about how we would handle similar circumstances here.

Interesting but not riveting

As I mentioned, the premise behind the book was fascinating.  Unfortunately, the book itself had a hard time capturing the tension and drama that was surely felt by the characters in the story.  There was a lot of historical information which was of course needed for the set up of the plot but some of it went beyond that and became tedious to get through.  The girls in the club and I agreed that we would’ve liked to have read more about the emotions and points of view from the men, women and children who were being helped to escape but their stories are, much like their lives in the book, rather mute.  The Zabinskis son was a young boy during the war yet he played an important role within the zoo and yet his personal side of things isn’t really mentioned at all.  I really liked the story behind this book and there was a lot of potential but it fell short of completely satisfying.

However, all was not lost as we were completely satisfied by our food and drink at our club meeting spot of the month, O Shaughnessys Pub which is a convenient 15 minute walk from home.  I had two different beers whose names I can’t remember (they were good though, I promise) and for dinner I had a wrap stuffed with portabella mushrooms, spinach, cranberries, goat cheese and red peppers.  It was really good too but I make similar sandwiches for lunch all the time so I wasn’t totally blown away.  Apparently their fish and chips are delicious though so if you’re looking for some traditional fare, there ya go.  I had been to this Pub once before, to have some brews with a buddy, and it didn’t disappoint then either.  The place was much less crowded when we went as a club but that’s what we get for going on a Thursday night in November versus a warm afternoon in the middle of summer.

All in all, it was a good meeting.  We got to see a few new and old faces and the company is always the best part.  Next month we’re reading an old favorite of mine (To Kill a Mockingbird) because one of the members has NEVER read it.  I don’t know how that happened so we plan to rectify it next month.

On a different note – I went to the gym 4 times in the last week!  I must be losing my mind.

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