A Woman of Letters

How do you discuss a book when it is not at all what the readers expected? This was the conundrum that faced the Downtowners book group at yesterday's meeting. We gathered to talk about Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou and the book did not fail to meet expectations, but it didn't meet reader assumptions.

One reader pointed out immediately that it was not a book about letters at all, it was more personal observations, vignettes, and life experiences of the author. Another reader felt that Angelou was using this material to illustrate her personal philosophy of life and appreciated how "unpreachy" each entry was.

One other reader noticed the loose ends in some of the short passages and everyone discussed the chapter "Porgy and Bess" and wondered why Angelou named this chapter after the opera and how it fit with the true message of the chapter.

Everyone enjoyed Angelou's admission and examples of human frailty. A particular favorite was the chapter titled "Senegal" and the story of the carpet.

This book is a very quick read and there are many chapters that will serve as great jumping off points for conversation.