I hosted my Book Club back in May for our lunch and discussion of Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Great Alone.
Come take a look at my tablescape coordinated with details in the book.
I’m actually in two book clubs. The first being the Book Club I often write about here.
The other is a Book Club that has many gals in it and meets at nighttime to discuss our book over snacks and drinks. This book club read and discussed The Great Alone prior to my regular Book Club selecting this book.
After reading The Great Alone, I thought it was a superb book for discussion for my regular Book Club. Others in my group were interested in reading it too, so it was an easy pick for us. I also knew after initially reading it, I was dying to host my Book Club for our discussion/lunch – my brain was already swirling at that point with ideas for my tablescape.
My table’s all about details that pertained to or were mentioned in The Great Alone.
A Vietnam vet (Ernt) looses yet another job. Once again, he decides to move his family (his wife Cora, and their 13-year daughter, Leni). This time it being a major move to “America’s Last Frontier”, Alaska. A war buddy of Ernt’s has left him a cabin and some land in a fictional town near Homer, Alaska.
Cora’ kitchen and the family table are not described in the book. I took the liberty of putting together my tablescape based on the description in the book of the family’s meager belongings and their tiny cabin (think no indoor plumbing and remember it’s cold Alaska, not a location like Hawaii).
I did not envision Cora having nice matching dishes, glassware, and napkins – just whatever she collected over the years…Nor does she have a fabric tablecloth
However, I imagine Cora taking pride in her kitchen, so brown paper serves as a tablecloth.
Maybe Ernt carved Cora a sign out of wood for her kitchen?
Maybe Cora picked some flowers, like daisies, from the wild or brought in simple green plants found outside to put in her kitchen…
OTHER BOOK DETAILS I USED
My Book Club gals were “greeted” at my door with a handmade copy of a sign from the book (page 282 in the hardcover copy of the book)
Ernt and Mad Earls’ drink of choice – whiskey
In both my Book Clubs we discussed who our favorite character was in the book. In both groups, Large Marge, hands down, was everyone’s favorite.
Large Marge is a large, caring, and outgoing black woman who ran the town’s Trading Post/General Store. The General Store offers a box of Free Books (page 264) that customers can help themselves to which Leni often does.
Hence, a box of Free Books serves as the centerpiece for my table.
Leni is a voracious reader. Some of the books Leni reads are mentioned throughout the novel. So books, like the following ones, play a major component to my tablescape.
Probably the most important book(s) referred to throughout the book is J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings. Leni reads her paperback copy of The Fellowship of the Ring on the drive to Alaska. Leni and her boyfriend, Matthew are both huge fans of The Lord of the Rings books. Matthew also is an avid reader. Leni calls she and Matthew “Sam and Frodo” (major characters from The Lord of the Rings – the best of friends)
Leni and Matthew both share and read poetry by Robert Service: ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee” is specifically mentioned in the book (page 70).
Robert Service called Alaska, “The Great Alone” (page 93).
Other books mentioned that Leni read are Childhood’s End, The Thorn Birds, and The Flame and the Flower which are part of my tablescape .
I envision the Free Box also contained Alaska travel books.
Years later Leni is living in Seattle. Tucked into her vanity mirror is an old picture of Matthew ‘s grandparents. Matthew gave the photo to Leni with the words THIS COULD BE US written on it. Beside that picture on her mirror is one of the first pictures Leni took of Matthew (page 380).
LUNCH IS SERVED
My fellow readers were not the type of gals interested in eating bear or venison for our lunch, and one of the gals does not like seafood including salmon. So typical Alaskan foods mentioned in the book were out of the question.
I chose to serve modern-day comfort food instead – salad and lasagna. Cupcakes for dessert.
MY BOOK REVIEW
This is not a book you “love” – it is not a “happy, nice” book.
IT IS a well-written, powerful, bold, and gripping story! Ms. Hannah has written an intense storyline with well-developed characters. My emotions at times while reading this book were ones of rage/anger along with moments of some sorrowful tears.
I think it is a great selection for book clubs to read. There is a lot of material in the book for a serious discussion including:
*Spousal abuse, *PTSD that sadly was not recognized back then for Vietnam vets, and the effects/consequences suffered from it, *Coming-of-age, and *The hard work required in Alaskan daily life during the ’70s (ex. much of the summer spent preparing and storing food to eat in the winter and the depression suffered during the long, cold, dark winter).
Kristin Hannah’s personal experience from her time spent in Alaska clearly shines through with the details described in the book.
A highly recommended read…