Book Discussion Group
A Celebration of Reading!
Read each selection & join staff member Michele Reinhart for a spirited discussion!
Last Wednesday of each month at 7 pm in the Conference Room.
May 30: Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
On May 9, 1831, after 37 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the young Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville and his compatriot Gustave de Beaumont landed in Newport, Rhode Island, and began a nine-month tour of the United States that would lead to the publication of one of the world’s great studies of political science, Democracy in America.
Published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840, Democracy in America still informs and influences readers and writers nearly 200 years later. Novelist Peter Carey has spun the straw of Tocqueville and Beaumont into gold in his 2010 work of pseudo-historical absolute fiction Parrot and Olivier in America. This month, in honor of Tocqueville’s May arrival on our shores, we will read and discuss Peter Carey’s twist on a French aristocrat studying democracy in America.
In Carey’s version of events, Olivier de Garmont is a French aristocrat fallen on hard times, and in some danger of losing his head, following the political upheavals of the French Revolution. He is packed off – more or less against his will – on a ship to America for his safety.
John Larritt – better known as Parrot – is an unsophisticated working class Englishman whose companionship for the journey is forced on Olivier. It’s not a happy pairing.
Inspired by the journey and journalism of Tocqueville and Beaumont, and imagined through the eyes and minds of Olivier and Parrot, Peter Carey observes the dual nature of early America: rich and poor, promise and peril, myth and reality.
Please check our online catalog for copies of the book and join us for our discussion on May 30.
With staffer Wendy Wise:
- June 27: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
- July 25: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
- August 29: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
- September 26: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- October 31: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
- November 28: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Questions? Call Reference at 614-481-3776.