Two Good Book Club Reads this month

The Choiring of the Trees  by Arkansas author Donald Harrington


was our in-person book club for February.  Based on a true story, it is the story of Nail Chism, who was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl and sentenced to death - and the story of the woman who fought to save his life.  It is set in 1914 in a small rural town in Newton County Arkansas.  The story begins with the main character Nail Chism being led to the electric chair for the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl in his hometown of Staymore, AR. As he’s waiting, he notices two things—the trees seem to be singing to him, and a woman journalist named Miss Monday is sketching his last moments.

A last-minute stay of execution then takes you back in time to the town where it all started.  The book is narrated by Latha, the victim’s best friend.  It takes  you through life in Staymore, but it also covers the life of Viridis Monday, and how she became a “newspaper artist”,  and Nails life in Staymore and in prison.  I read this book over 20 years ago and remembered really liking it.  The late Harrington, has a way with words and is an excellent writer.  I particularly like all the descriptions of places and people in Arkansas.   I had forgotten quite a bit of the book, particularly the gruesome treatment he and other prisoners received in prison in Little Rock. 

We had an excellent discussion and book-themed comfort food—


chicken and dumplings, greens, corn bread and blackberry cobbler, complete with a moonshine cocktail.  All members did not enjoy the book the same.  


The lowest rating was a 2.5 and the highest was a 4.5.  Overall, it got a 3.5 rating.

Our online book club read this month was The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.


 Like so many of the books these days there are two story lines.  One was set in 1875 just as slavery is ending and the other is set in 1987, both in Louisiana.  Both story lines have females struggling with huge obstacles.  Half of us liked the 1875 story line better, while the others preferred the more modern story.  It is a historical fiction novel.  None of us had ever heard of the Lost Friends ads which were placed in southern newspapers by former slaves looking for other family members.  Wingate is a good writer and the book was an easy read.  While you liked several characters,  I particularly liked Hannie, a freed slave who was working for her own land and looking for her lost family.  Her journey into Texas was interesting.  One of the characters reminded me of the tv character Bass Reeves, US Marshall.  Everyone liked the book, some more than others.


 I rated it a 3.5 which was one of the lowest ratings, while one member gave it a 5. Overall, it came in at 3.95 rating. 

I would recommend both books. 

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