Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain was the first book that I finished reading in 2014. I read this book as I decided to go to a meeting of the girly book club. I have been a part of Cannonball Read for 5 years now (wow how time flies!) but in the spirit of getting out of my comfort zone I decided to get together with some real live humans and maybe even make some friends along the way (spoiler, I didn’t make any friends).
First of all about the book. Necessary Lies is a tale of eugenics, empathy and changes in reproductive freedoms. Set in North Carolina in the early 60s and loosely based on actual events, this tale takes us through a turbulent time for both a young woman (Ivy) living in poverty on a tobacco farm and another young woman (Jane) starting out a career as a social worker with little experience or world knowledge. Ivy does her best to hold her family together, but is often left responsible for the care of her young nephew and her elderly aunt. Her sister has limited intelligence, and Ivy worries often that she will become pregnant again leaving Ivy to take care of more children. Ivy doesn’t worry enough about herself, and despite efforts from social workers to educate her, she denies her own involvement with any sexual activity. Jane is a doctor’s wife who although recently married, decides to secretly take the birth control pill and seek out a career in social work despite her husband’s concerns. The two women of course meet through Jane’s work and Jane becomes Ivy’s advocate, to her own professional peril.
Overall I enjoyed the book alright, I was quite surprised to see the reviews over on good reads, they are almost all 5 stars. The consensus at the book club meeting as well was pretty much unanimously that the book was simply OK. I personally thought that it was an interesting concept but the take on the subject matter was fairly simplistic and the plot was predictable and the ending was overly convenient. I wouldn’t recommend reading it, but many others seemed to enjoy it so perhaps it was just not my taste (or the taste of the others that I met in the book club).
Speaking of the book club. . . well I must say I am glad that I went. I tend to suffer from social anxiety. I love people and I do really well in small groups but bigger gatherings tend to freak my shit out. Once I get warmed up I am OK, but I spent the last hour before the book club meeting panicking and changing my mind back and forth if I was even going to show up at the book club. To be honest, I ended up going for three reasons: because I paid for and read the book, because I would kick myself if I didn’t and because I thought it would be something interesting to write about.
I have never been to any type of book club before and I just picked this one off meetup.com because the meeting was held nearby to my office (although it took place 2 hours after my shift ends so I got to kill that time, yay!). Apparently this book club is some kind of huge one with branches all over the world. The books are picked each month by the founder who lives across the pond in London. I guess there is something to be said for being a part of a massive group of people, but I must say that I am not impressed with their selections of books. I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from an organization that uses the word girly in the title (not that there’s anything wrong with that but I don’t think it implies that they care too much about good books).
I walked into the restaurant with my heart pounding just after the scheduled starting time. As I entered the restaurant and waited to be shown the way, another young woman came in and we determined that we were both there for the same reason and that we were both newbies. We entered the meeting room, got our names tags and decided to go over to a table together and get our feet wet in some book club conversation. So I was all scared for nothing, everyone was friendly enough (although one of them seemed to be giving me the stink eye but maybe that’s just the way her face looks). I didn’t make any friendship connections though but I think it takes a few times before you really find someone that clicks (just like dating). Of course the only person who really seemed to like me was the crazy one, why is it always the crazy ones? This girl reminded me of Maureen Ponderosa, and told me that she was dating someone 13 years younger than herself. When I questioned her age (as she looked about 25) she just said, let’s just say he’s 20. At least I have learned from the crazy friends of my past and I left without giving her my number.