Category Archives: Epistolary novel

The Book Whisperer Invites Readers to the 2019 Books Sandwiched In series at Central Library


Today’s blog takes a new turn in that I am not reviewing a single book, but I’m promoting the Books Sandwiched In fall 2019 series. The book reviews are held at the Central Library, downtown Tulsa in Aaronson Auditorium. The reviews begin at 12:10 PM on Mondays and end at 12:50 PM. This year, there are two exceptions. The first review will be at Marshall Brewery, 6th & Utica, at 6:00 PM because Central Library (and, in fact, all libraries) is closed for a day of staff development. The second exception occurs on Nov 12 which is a Tuesday since the libraries are closed for Veterans’ Day on Monday, Nov 11. The time remains the same for this review: 12:10 – 12:50 PM. The complete schedule is listed at the end of this blog.

Guests are encouraged to bring their lunch and listen to the book reviews. Bring a friend or two along to enjoy the reviews as well. Starbucks, located on the first floor of Central Library, is the only library-owned Starbucks in the US. Money made over expenses goes to help fund library programs. Thus, purchasing food and drinks from the Central Library Starbucks helps support the library system.

Mon, Oct 14, 6:00 PM, Marshall Brewery: John Carreyou details in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup the story of Theranos and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes promoted a radical idea that a single drop of blood could determine any number of diseases. Through the use of a machine installed in pharmacies, people could have a drop of blood drawn to give them quick, accurate test results. Sadly, the idea does not work, but Holmes raised more than $9 billion to fund her project until the whole company collapsed. Carreyou has written a true story that reads like a fast-paced thriller.

Mon, Oct 21, 12:10-12:50 PM: The Book Whisperer reviewed The Library Book by Susan Orlean on 25 Nov 2018. See the complete review there. Susan Orlean has written a captivating book about the Los Angeles Library fire in 1984. To explain the full extent of the fire and its aftermath, Orlean also provides a history of the library system in Los Angeles and how critical the library is to the well-being of a city and its people.

Mon, Oct 28, 12:10-12:50 PM: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is another book the Book Whisperer reviewed; this one on 15 Mar 2019. Owens has written a coming of age story combined with a mystery and wrapped in nature. Where the Crawdads Sing is a must read.

Mon, Nov 4, 12:10-12:50 PM: Marie Benedict’s The Only Woman in the Room will be reviewed. Again, the Book Whisperer reviewed The Only Woman in the Room in this blog on 13 Apr 2019. Hedy Lamarr has long been known as a beautiful Hollywood star. In truth, she was a scientist.

Tues, Nov 12, 12:10-12:50 PM: Because the libraries are closed for Veterans’ Day on Monday, Nov 11, the review of Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty by Susan Page will take place on a Tuesday. The review of two books by and about First Ladies is unprecedented. Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush both contributed much to the US during their tenures as First Ladies.

Mon, Nov 18, 12:10-12:50 PM: Meet me at the Museum by Anne Youngston is the kind of novel to read and reread. Told in the form of letters between Tina Hopgood, an English farm wife, and Anders Larsen, a museum director in Denmark, Meet me at the Museum chronicles the growing friendship between two strangers through the letters they exchange. The Book Whisperer reviewed Meet me at the Museum in this blog on 1 Feb 2019.

Mon, Nov 25, 12:10-12:50 PM: Recipient of the 2019 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award is Stacy Schiff. A review of her body of work will include an overview of such books as The Witches: Salem, 1692, Cleopatra: A Life, and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. Such acclaimed authors as David McCullough, another Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author recipient, praise Schiff’s writing as “brilliant from start to finish.”

2019 Books Sandwiched In Book Reviews

12:10-12:50 PM, Aaronson Auditorium, Central Library (two exceptions, noted with **)

Bring your lunch and bring a friend or two to enjoy these book reviews.

Oct 14**: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (held in the evening at Marshall Brewery, 6th & Utica. The library is closed for staff development that day.)

Oct 21: The Library Book by Susan Orlean  (Monday marks the beginning of National Friends of the Library Week, so the review celebrates libraries.)

Oct 28: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Nov 4: The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

Nov 12**: (TUESDAY because the library is closed for Veterans’ Day Nov 11): Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty by Susan Page 

Nov 18: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngston

Nov 25: Overview of the work of Stacy Schiff, the 2019 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author recipient


The Book Whisperer Discovers a GEM!


In a recent blog post, the Book Whisperer addressed Up Lit, which the Guardian calls “novels and nonfiction that is optimistic rather than feelgood.” Harper Collins Publishers Australia identifies Up Lit as “books that give us hope.” When I read about Anne Youngson’s debut novel Meet me at the Museum and further read that it falls into the genre of Up Lit, I was intrigued. Then I read some reviewers compared Meet me at the Museum to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Other comparisons to Our Souls at Night and 84, Charing Cross Road sealed the deal for me and I immediately requested Meet me at the Museum from the library.

Luckily, I did not have to wait long for Meet me at the Museum to arrive at my branch library with my name emblazoned on the spine. On the same day that I checked out Youngson’s book, I also checked out six other books I had requested. Now, I knew I could not read all seven books in two weeks and several of them including Youngson’s book could not be rechecked since others were on the waiting list. Still, I optimistically checked them all out.

When I got home, I displayed the books on the dining table and looked them over so I could choose which one to begin first. I started with Paris by the Book and read thirty pages. Unfortunately, the story did not grab my attention even though the descriptions I had read interested me. I set the book aside and picked up Meet me at the Museum.

And I am glad I made the switch!

Anne Youngson retired early from working in the auto industry because she has always wanted to write. She chose to write an epistolary novel, exchanges of letters between Tina Hapgood, a British farmer’s wife, and Anders Larsen, a museum curator in Denmark. An unexpected pregnancy propels Tina into marriage to Edward Hapgood, farmer. In the 1960s, pressure from both sets of parents make Tina believe that marriage is the only option for a pregnant teen.

As a result, Tina ends up in a life not of her own choosing. Not only does Tina keep the house tidy and meals cooked, but she also steps in to help with all the farm work. Together, Tina and Edward raise three children: Tam, Andrew, and Mary, now adults themselves and working on the farm in one capacity or another. Tina does not stop to think about her life and how it has turned out until her lifelong friend Bella dies of cancer.

Bella and Tina have always planned to go to Denmark to see the Tollund Man. They learned about the Tollund Man in 1964 when Professor Glob wrote a book titled The Bog People and dedicated it to his daughter and thirteen of her classmates who included Bella and Tina. Bella and Tina tell each other that one day they will travel to Denmark to see the Tollund Man. Unfortunately, they never get in sync on when to go and then Bella falls ill and dies of cancer.


Bella’s death starts Tina on a new path, one of self-examination, something she has not done since her teenage years. The result is that she writes a letter to Professor Glob who would now be over 100 years old. Tina’s letter falls into the hands of Anders Larsen who replies to her rather curtly and signs the letter “The Curator.”

Oddly, Tina feels compelled to write “The Curator” again and so a correspondence begins. Letters that began formally with “Dear Mr. Curator” and ending with “Sincerely, Tina Hopgood” and “Dear Mrs. Hopgood ending with “Regards, Anders Larsen, Curator,” give way to less formal beginnings and endings on both their parts.

Through the letters, Tina and Anders begin to open up about their lives, including their sorrows, and their joys. Anders suggests after the two have exchanged letters through the post for a time that they still write the letters, but attach them in emails to make them more immediately accessible. After some thought, Tina agrees, but she also says if she has something to send him, she will put it into a letter through the post.

In describing Meet me at the Museum, I would rely on words like poignant, hopeful, curious, charm, hypnotic, and soothing. As Anders and Tina continue to exchange letters, but never actually meeting in person, I kept hoping they would meet and look at the Tollund Man together as Bella and Tina had planned to do for so many years.

Seamus Heaney wrote “The Tollund Man,” a poem which fits with Tina and Bella’s story since the first line is “Some day I will go to Aarhus….” Readers can see the poem in English and Danish at this link:

“The Tollund Man” by Seamus Heaney


Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint’s kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters’
Honeycombed workings.
Now his stained face
Reposes at Aarhus.


I could risk blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed
Flesh of labourers,
Stockinged corpses
Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth
Flecking the sleepers
Of four young brothers, trailed
For miles along the lines.


Something of his sad freedom
As he rode the tumbril
Should come to me, driving,
Saying the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,
Watching the pointing hands
Of country people,
Not knowing their tongue.

Out here in Jutland
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

Readers will no doubt wonder if Tina and Anders meet and wonder too about the sorrows and joys both have experienced in their lives. Read Meet me at the Museum to discover the true beauty of Up Lit and to discover optimism still lives among the raspberries. I’ll leave readers with one of Ander’s reminders to Tina: “Please do not be angry with the circumstances of your life … nothing is so fixed it cannot be altered.”

I want everyone to read Meet me at the Museum!