Between the Lines Book Club: Feminism in Girl on the Train

between the lines book club logoBetween the Lines Book Club will be meeting tomorrow, August 27, 2016, at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM.  The Girl on the Train is one of a string of thrillers involving women, including Gone Girl and The Woman in Cabin 10. All of these thrillers involve women in the context of parenting, marriages, romantic relationships, and familial relation ships. They’ve hit a nerve, and some say it’s because by presenting women as the center of the story, and by presenting the reader with women who are not victims, the books are feminist in nature.

In “Why Everyone’s Talking About The Girl on the Train,”  Claire Fallon states:

By using our assumptions about how women can and should behave to set up shocking plot twists, or by pushing these assumptions to the logical extreme, a thriller can make use of its genre conventions to undermine societal conventions. In these novels, within the gripping mystery at its heart, the inherent dangers of femininity in modern life are gently unearthed, dusted off, and presented for us to see clearly. As much progress as women have made in our society over the past century, it’s clear that many of us are still hungry for this dramatic explosion of the sexism around us.

Heroine Jones points out that the characters in The Girl on the Train grow through a point in which they define themelves by the men in their lives into a place of more independence:

Without spoiling anything, I want to comment on the feminism of The Girl on the Train.  The message on traditional gender roles is subtle at first but eventually comes forward as an important final note.  Throughout the novel, Hawkins’ female characters all see their worth through the eyes of men.  As the story comes to a close, though, they all seem to find some level of personal strength to do what they know they have to do.  In confronting their individual fears of rejection in some form, they take one firm step towards emancipating themselves from the destructively limiting gender roles which they had previously fully accepted.

At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse writes about the Gone Girl phenomena:

To me the killer in the basement is far less scary than a book that makes you question what the fuck is going on here? and by moving female characters out of the “victim” space and into something more complex and explored, it gives female characters more credit, makes them more human. The “innocent” blonde haired, blue eyed Midwestern girl gone missing will always draw readers — hell, it draws me — but I want my fiction to do more, to be a little bit more, and to give me the unexpected. I want more than the body in the woods. I want my female characters to be a little bit dangerous too.

Elyse lists several other books to try in the above article. She also reviewed The Woman in Cabin 10. In her review, it’s clear that The Woman in Cabin 10 deals with many of the same themes of manipulation that The Girl on the Train tackles:

Nilsson acts like Lo’s sleeplessness and antidepressants mean that Lo can’t be trusted to differentiate reality from fantasy, and the fact that she calls him on it is perfect. This is a common theme in mysteries/ thrillers/ horror fiction–you must be crazy! There’s not really a killer/ monster/ alien/ bigfoot hanging out here! Ooops I just got my face eaten, guess you were right. The thing is, most heroines don’t deal with their doubters are directly or forcefully as Lo.

What do you think? Did The Girl on the Train make you want to read more books in the genre? Do you think the book is feminist? Why or why not? Let us know in person tomorrow, or in the comments below!

Fall Brings All the Dates! Come See Me!

Old vintage books and cup with heart shape on wooden table

It’s been quiet over here on Geek Girl, with the exception of the ever-busy Between the Lines Book Club. Our family survived The Great Bike Trip of 2016, San Diego Comic-Con, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We crawled home, got sick, recovered in time to have houseguests who we adore, and started back to school (Dear Daughter just started seventh grade). Since we got home I’ve been fighting a miserable fibromyalgia flare up (Team Fibro Represent! Whee!) and always feeling about fourteen steps behind – but also feeling happy to be home, in my own bed, with two cats and a dog sleeping on me. Here are some links to posts about Comic-Con and Wizarding World:

The Gleeful Hysteria of Hall H

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, California Style

SO. Now that Dear Daughter is Back to School, is back to other events for me, and here’s a list of them!

I’m doing two talks with the Sacramento Public Library this Fall. On September 18, 2016, I’ll be taking part in “Sacramento Public Library Presents: To Kill a  Mockingbird.” This presentation is happening in partnership with Sacramento Theater Company, who is putting on their own production of the story. It will open with live music and include a Q&A with the play’s director. The presentation takes place on September 18th, at 1PM, at Central Library.

I will also be giving a presentation about the role of water (and lack of water) in Californian Literature. This is part of a series

October 23, 2016, at 1PM, I’ll be giving a talk on the role that water plays in Californian Literature. It’s part of the series “California H2O” and my talk will be held at McClatchy Library.

From September 30 – October 2, I’ll be a guest at Convolution 2016: The Age of Monsters. Convolution was the first convention that put me on a panel, and it’s become a family experience for me – so many of my friends are there, my daughter and husband come along, and the atmosphere is relaxed and joyous. I can’t wait! Location: Hyatt Regency SFO.

I hope to see some of you in person sometime this Fall!

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Between the Lines Book Club: Interviews with Paula Hawkins

between the lines book club logoWelcome back to Between the Lines Book Club, where we are discussing The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. We will meet in person on August 27 at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM, to discuss the book. Meanwhile, leave your comments below!

Since publishing The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins has been widely interviewed. Below, here are links to some interviews with her:

NPR

The Guardian

You can see an interview with Paula Hawkins here:

 

 

Meanwhile, Emily Blunt has been doing some press for the movie adaptation, which opens on October 7. You can see Emily Blunt talk about why playing Rachel was so challenging, and see the trailer for the movie, at Today.com.

 

 

Between the Lines Book Club: The Girl on the Train

between the lines book club logoThis month our selection is The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. It’s a relatively short, fast, light read, just right for the end of summer. However, it’s also layered and complex in terms of it’s clever construction and it’s treatment of themes including alcoholism, memory, and the ways we deceive others and ourselves.

The Girl on the Train was a huge bestseller, and a movie adaptation starring Emily Blunt will be released on October 7, 2016. NPR raved about it, saying:

But what really makes The Girl on the Train such a gripping novel is Hawkins’ remarkable understanding of the limits of human knowledge, and the degree to which memory and imagination can become confused. Reflecting on her fellow passengers on her daily train ride to and from London, Rachel thinks, “I recognize them and they probably recognize me. I don’t know whether they see me, though, for what I really am.” They don’t, of course, and they can’t. It’s hard enough — maybe impossible — for a person even to see herself for what she really is.

The New York Times praised the book for its skillful manipulation of the reader, saying:

Ms. Hawkins keeps all these fibs, threats and innuendoes swirling through her book, to the point where they frighten and undermine each of her characters. None of them really know which of the others can be trusted or believed. And although there’s a lot of Hitchcock to the book’s diabolical plotting, there’s also a strong element of “Gaslight,” the classic story in which a man tries to convince his wife that she is going mad. All three women in the book are candidates for this treatment, and Ms. Hawkins puts it to very good use.

The reader is ready for some gaslighting, too. So Ms. Hawkins scrambles the timing of scenes, with Megan gone in one chapter and then present in the next. She also shifts well among her narrators’ points of view to keep the reader on edge, and only as the book progresses do these different perspectives begin to dovetail. Scrambling a story is easy, but it’s done here to tight, suspenseful effect. The book does have a lot of moving parts, and Ms. Hawkins takes longer than necessary to get them started. The second part of the story is much tighter and more suspenseful.

Even my favorite study guide, schmoop.com, got in on the action with an excellent analysis of the book – so if you want some extra things to consider, or a guide through the sometimes confusing events, check it out.

We will be meeting in person to discuss The Girl on the Train at Arden Dimick Library, on Saturday August 27, 2016, at 10:30AM. Happy reading!

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Between the Lines Book Club: Biographies

between the lines book club logoHey Book Clubbers! This month the Between the Lines Book Club is reading The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. You can leave comments about the book here, or better yet meet up in person at Arden Dimick Library  at 10:30AM on Saturday, July 30, 2016 (TOMORROW!)

David McCullough did not win a Pulitzer for The Wright Brothers, but he has won for two other biographies: Truman and John Adams. If you enjoyed The Wright Brothers, here three very different Pulitzer Prize winning biographies to explore. A complete list can be found at wikipedia.

In 1999, A. Scott Berg won the Pulitzer for Lindberg, a biography that ties in quite neatly with the Wright Brothers.

2013 saw the publication of The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss. I’ve read this one, and it’s amazing – entertaining, exciting, and fascinating and horrifying look at the erasure of people of color from history.

Looking for a beach read? William Finnegan won in 2016 for a memoir, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Finnegan is a longtime writer for the New Yorker. His passion for surfing took him all over the world and eventually led to a career in journalism.

 

 

 

 

Nighty Night

Logo of SDCCNo blog post today because mayhem. Yesterday was the last day of Comic-Con. Because there might be, like, three people in all of Southern California who I didn’t see yesterday, we are going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter the day after tomorrow. Today: sleeeeep. So much sleeeeep.

Night night. Dream happy cosplay dreams!

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Between the Lines Book Club: Wright Brothers on Film.

between the lines book club logoThis month the Between the Lines Book Club is reading The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. You can leave comments about the book here, or better yet meet up in person at Arden Dimick Library  at 10:30AM on Saturday, July 30, 2016.

Here’s some amazing footage of the Wright Brothers in action! It includes still photography, film footage of both brothers, film footage of the flights in Le Mans and Fort Meyer, and the first motion picture footage shot from an airplane. It also shows how the catapult system got the plane into the air. Enjoy!