What Will They Do at the Breaking Point?

Margaret S., the presenting member on April 4, 2023, joined CWLC in 2010. She was introduced to the club by member Janet S. while they were both volunteering with the Calgary Police Service. Margaret has held various positions in the club Executive, including President (2016-2018). She has presented on a variety of authors in the past including Charles Dickens.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Margaret presented on selected works of the author Emma Donoghue. Ms. Donoghue’s extensive body of work have seemingly disparate characters and settings, but the novels Margaret discussed all portray characters pushed to their breaking point. For Margaret, Donoghue is a wonderful writer made outstanding by her curiosity and fascination with the human spirit.

The first reading was from Haven (2022), a novel about monks settling on a remote Irish island in the first millenium CE. The passage showed Donoghue’s skill in transporting the reader to a place that is strange, hostile and yet compelling. Next, Margaret read from The Pull of the Stars (2020), which is set in a few days of the “Great Flu Epidemic” of 1918. Like the characters, the reader is forced to confront their preconceived ideas and ingrained prejudices. For Margaret, the clear message was that we cannot assign our life experiences to others.

Room (2010) is Emma Donoghue’s best known work – it won a number of prizes and was made into a movie. Margaret discussed the book and what it really means to be imprisoned.

Margaret next discussed Slammerkin (2000), which is based on the life and death of Mary Saunders – a teen prostitute in 18th Century England. While little is known of the real Mary Saunders, Donoghue brings her to life along with the sordid underside of Georgian England.

Margaret finished with another reading from Haven, when the struggle between faith and starvation has driven one of the characters to a moral breaking point.

Shawna M.

Next week, member Maryliz Q. will present on the works of Joseph Boyden.

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