Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn Waterbury to launch THIRST

WATERBURY AUTHOR TO SPEAK AT UCONN WATERBURY CAMPUS

Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

WATERBURY, CT –  April 20, 2012…The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury has announced that Waterbury native, Mary Donnarumma Sharnick will present a talk on her novel, Thirst, Friday, May 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM at the University campus, 99 East Main Street, in the multipurpose room on the first floor. The talk is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served; advance reservation is required by calling 203-236-9924 or emailing osher@uconn.edu.  

The setting for Thirst is Venice in 1613.  A suspicious drowning in the Lagoon and a deadly assault on a bridge shatter the dreams of Captain Lorenzo Contarini and his fiancée, la Signorina Caterina Zanchi, members of two noble Venetian families.  While Caterina’s severe injuries banish her from society, her parents remove their other daughter, Leonora, from the convent to become Lorenzo’s hasty wife.  Lorenzo’s investigation into his half-sister’s death compels him to accuse his maternal aunt, the Abbess of San Zaccaria, of murder.  The ruthless Abbess deflects attention from herself by demonizing Leonora’s fellow nun and lover, Suor Serafina, as well as members of her own family.  She is ably assisted by the feared and implacable Office of the Inquisition.  The subsequent public trial brings together all of Venice and tests familial, religious, sexual, and political alliances.  Old secrets are revealed to an avid crowd seeking cruel entertainment, forcing all present to wonder if it is possible to discover the entire truth.  At once comforted by the ceaseless lap and sway of the enclosed Lagoon and threatened by the efficient cruelty of the Republic, those whose tale this is live and breathe in an ever-shifting world of bigotry and prejudice.  Venice is never still.

Mary Donnarumma Sharnick has been writing ever since the day she printed her long name on her first library card.  A native of Connecticut, she graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in English, and earned a master’s degree in Renaissance studies from Trinity College, Hartford.  Fascinated by la Serenissima and the islands of the Venetian Lagoon since her first visit in 1969, Mary has returned to Venice numerous times.  A Solo Writer’s Fellowship from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation afforded her the opportunity to live and write in Venice during July, 2010.  Mary teaches writing and chairs the English Department at Chase Collegiate School, Waterbury, Connecticut.  With her husband Wayne, she leads her writing students on “slow travel” tours of Italy, the country she considers her second home.   Books will be available for purchase – $20.15.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is an academic program offered at the Waterbury campus and is one of a national network of Institutes associated with the prestigious Bernard Osher Foundation. Bernard Osher, a New England native, is ranked among the top fifty most generous philanthropists in the United States. In its sixth year, OLLI currently provides non-credit courses, special events, author talks, research lectures, travel opportunities, and current events forums to over seven-hundred-fifty older adult participants (ages 50+) from 75 cities and towns in Connecticut. The spring session is currently in session at the Waterbury campus and the summer session of courses will be offered during the month of June, 2012.

For additional information on course offerings for summer, please call 203-236-9924 or e-mail osher@uconn.edu.

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Is Your BOOK CLUB Thirsty for THIRST?

If so, contact Mary to arrange a visit or a Skype video discussion. Below, find some talking points.

Book Club Questions for THIRST, by Mary Donnarumma Sharnick (www.fireshippress.com)

1)      How does the setting of Venice contribute to the tone of the novel?

2)      Two disturbing events—a double drowning in the lagoon and a murder on a bridge—introduce the reader to the turmoil beneath the apparent calm of Venice, “la Serenissima,” or “the most serene.”  What is the relationship between the calm and the tumultuous in the novel?

3)      How do Captain Lorenzo Contarini and the scholar/lawyer Primo function as foils?

4)      How does la Strega transcend each of the three roles—wife, nun, whore–to which women in the novel are relegated?

5)      Which characters exert the most power in the Venice of this novel?  Which exert the least?  Why?

6)      How does the novel explore the question:  When are we morally culpable?

7)      How does the novel explore gender?

8)      How does the novel explore the status of outsiders?

9)      How might the novel be considered both “holy” and “unholy?”

10)  Is the novel’s ending satisfying or not?  Why?