Thursday, July 13, 2017

Here are the clues for week One photos. Solutions will be given on Friday, July 21.
Send your answers to

Have you started reading Nutshell yet?

If not, why not get a copy and start reading to be ready to share your comments at the friendly book discussion of September 16 at the WACC. It is a great read!

We are starting a Guessing Contest, asking you to match baby photos with their owners.
There will be baby photos published each week. They will be a mix of Whitevale residents and celebrities. If you wish to participate, send a digital version of one of you baby or childhood picture to or drop an envelope with a photo labeled with your name in the side door slot of 470 Whitevale Road.

We'll draw each week from the right answers and the winner will win a $20 Indigo Chapters Gift Certificate.

Guess who are these famous people? Two men, two women. Two are Canadian, the two others American. Who are they?

Send your guesses to the WACC's email address: 

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world's master storytellers, Ian McEwan. The narrator is an embryo, the plot follows the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The first sentence set the tone: “So here I am, upside down in a woman. Arms patiently crossed, waiting, waiting and wondering who I’m in, what I’m in for.”

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home, a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse, but John's not here. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month old resident of Trudy's womb. 

Join our Whitevale Reads’ discussion on Saturday, September 16 @7:30PM.

In the meantime, follow the Whitevale Reads Nutshell activities through the Hamlet Grapevine and on this blog

Sunday, March 19, 2017

More about Michal Ondaatje

For some basic information on Michael Ondaatje's biography you can check this wikipedia link Michael Ondaatje and this British Council link Ondaatje

An excellent analysis of the book has been done by Jason, an Ondaatje enthusiast, on this youtube link Analysis of "In the Skin of a Lion"

And to get to know the author himself better, and hear his voice reading an excerpt from the book, check this link In The Skin Of A Lion

Saturday, March 4, 2017

WHITEVALE READS: In The Skin Of The Lion (March- April 2017)

In the Skin of The Lion is set in the city of Toronto and surrounding rural areas during the years 1913 – 1938.
The novel brings to life the unsung and invisible manual labor that was instrumental in building the infrastructure of the city of Toronto, and landmarks such as the Bloor Street Bridge and the tunnel under Lake Ontario that now provides all of the water filtration for the city. The book stresses the contrast between the lives of the rich and the lives of the poor immigrant laborers, many of whom risked their lives in the dangerous work of building the the infrastructure of our city.

Some have argued that In the Skin of a Lion is a novel of Toronto in the same way that Tales of the City is of San Francisco or Devil in the White City is of Chicago. While the novel's main characters are deeply and skillfully described, the city of Toronto itself is just as well-developed and becomes another major character in the story.

"Then the new men arrive, the “electricals,” laying grids of wire acrosse the five arches, carrying the exotic three-bowl lights, and on October 18, 1918 it is completed. Lounging in mid-air. The bridge. The bridge. Christened “Prince Edward.” The Bloor Street Viaduct."

The book was published in 1987 and was a popular and critical success. It was Michael Ondaatje's second novel, prior to his "blockbuster", "The English Patient".

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Recommendations for October 2016

Please drop in at the WACC to borrow these movies and books.
(WACC is open on Thursday 6-8PM, Sat 10-12 and Sunday 2-4PM)


Brigitte’s Suggestions: 

The Life of Others
Directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck
in German with English subtitles
This movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film 2006. It is a dramatic, spell binding movie. Before the collapse of the Berlin wall, the secret police of East Germany, the Stasi, was monitoring suspected opponents and intellectuals. A secret police agent ordered to bug and monitor a famous and charismatic playwright, witnesses a drama of love and betrayal and makes a life-changing decision. 
Take the time to slowly get into the charged atmosphere of this film, and you will be caught in this spell-binding and thought-provoking story.

In Bruges
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
in English and French
As stated in the back of the DVD: “Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes star in this edgy, action-packed comedy, filled with thrilling chases, spectacular shoot outs and an explosive ending you won’t want to miss”. 
All I can say is that, although I dislike violent movies, this one is smart and funny with talented actors who play the sarcastic tone to the hilt. I loved it!

Bill and Ted’s excellent adventures
Directed by Stephen Herek
A classic silly teen movie where a young Keanu Reeves (Ted) plays a “ditzy dude” from San Simas, California, who ends up travelling through time with his buddy Bill to meet historical figures for their high school history presentation.

Zoolander (directed by Ben Stiller) and Dodgeball (directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber): 
Two big successes with Ben Stiller who plays a narcissic and ridiculous male model in Zoolander and an enthusiastic and ridiculous dodgeball player in Dodgeball. Both are somewhat crude but hilarious and have reached cult status.

Patricia’s Pick: 

Seducing Doctors Lewis  
This comedy is a Canadian Tale of a small village along the Quebec coast suffering the economic and social decline due to the vanishing fish stocks. A company looking for a suitable workforce to operate a new fish canning factory, informs the village that they need a permanent doctor in order to qualify.  The local residents work together to transform the village in order  to entice a doctor and so the movie goes along its way with wit and an ounce or two of innovation.  There are parallels here to Whitevale and the movie is reminiscent of Waking Ned Devine.  English Subtitles.


Brigitte’s Suggestions:

Disgrace  by J. M. Coetzee
A dark story, harsh but compelling, (and short) written by Nobel prize winner J.M. Coetzee, which forces the readers to reflect and examine their assumptions on racism and on family relationships. Set in the violent and complex context of South Africa, the novel is centered around Professor David Lurie, who at 52, has to leave his job after an affair with one of his student. and subsequently reconnects with his daughter, Lucy. The violent incident they then experience brings the tension and sense of disgrace to a new level. I found their instinct to survive and resilience in front of their desperate situation fascinating and the skill of the author kept me wanting to read this dark and realistic tale to its last word.
Recommended by Brigitte 

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
This book, made up of short stories linked together to form a coherent narrative, is a delight to read. It describes the intricate daily events in the  newsroom of an English language newspaper in Rome. Through the years, and through quirky slices of life snippets, we follow the fate of the journalists, editors and owner and the eventual demise of the newspaper, in the era of technology. The various characters are eccentric, but real at the same time. A fun and witty book!
Recommended by Brigitte

Betty’s Recommendation:

Beautiful Mystery  by Louise Penny (and any book by this author)
Louise Penny is a Canadian author of a series of mystery novels entered on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Ganache of the Sûreté du Québec. Her books are well-written, entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. This particular novel is set in a monastery, known for its world famous singing monk community. The choir director is murdered and Ganache and his colleague Beauvoir discover that the harmony of the place was just an appearance. A satisfying read and , according to the Globe and Mail, “a powerful literary novel in its own right”.

Don’s Disappointment:

On The Road   by Jack Kerouac

Over the 3 years from 1948 to 1951, Kerouac travelled with Neal Cassidy and a few  other friends. From the journals documenting this period, he wrote “On the Road” in 1951. The version of the book found on the WACC’s Shelf is based on the original scroll of tracing paper where he wrote his first draft. There is a long preface and the “novel” starts only on page 108.  Don found it a bit disappointing compared to his expectations from a previous reading a long time ago. But this is undoubtedly a must read, written by an iconoclast who has left his mark on Western Beat culture with his style of “spontaneous prose” and is thought to be the precursor of the hippie movement.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book For Whitevale Reads (June - September 2016)

The new book for Whitevale Reads has been chosen:

"And the Birds Rained Down" by Jocelyne Saucier

Summary from Canada Reads 2015:

“Deep in a Northern Ontario forest live Tom and Charlie, two octogenarians determined to live out the rest of their lives on their own terms: free of all ties and responsibilities, their only connection to civilization two pot farmers who bring them whatever they can't eke out for themselves. But their solitude is disrupted by the arrival of two women. The first is a photographer searching for survivors of a series of catastrophic fires nearly a century earlier; the second is an elderly escapee from a psychiatric institution. The little hideaway in the woods will never be the same.”

Did you know about the great fires of 1916 in Ontario? Neither did I. They are always in the background of this novel by the francophone writer Jocelyne Saucier. It is a really current issue in view of the present situation at Fort McMurray.

From Wikipedia:
“The great Matheson Fire was a deadly forest fire that passed through the region surrounding the communities of Black River-Matheson and Iroquois Falls, Ontario, Canada, on July 29, 1916.
As was common practice at the time, settlers cleared land using the slash and burn method. That summer, there was little rain and the forests and underbrush burned easily. In the days leading up to July 29, several smaller fires that had been purposely set merged into a single large firestorm. It was huge; at times its front measured 64 kilometres (40 mi) across. On that fateful day, the fire moved uncontrollably upon the towns of Porquis Junction, Iroquois Falls, Kelso, Nushka, Matheson, and Ramore - destroying them completely - while causing extensive damage to Homer and Monteith. A separate fire burned in and around Cochrane. In all, the fires burned an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometres (490,000 acres).
Because of forest fire smoke that had covered the region for several weeks and the absence of a forest fire monitoring service, there was almost no warning that the conflagration was upon the communities. Some people escaped on the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway (now the Ontario Northland Railway), while others were saved by wading into the nearby Black River or one of the small lakes in the area. 223 people were killed according to the official estimate.
The Matheson Fire led to the creation of the Forest Protection Branch of the Department of Lands, Forests and Mines (now known as the Ministry of Natural Resources) and the Forest Fires Prevention Act in Ontario.
The great fires are the subject of the books Killer in the Bush by Michael Barnes, and Il pleuvait des oiseaux by Jocelyne Saucier"

To know more about the Matheson fire:

To learn about Jocelyne and the writing of the novel: