Monday, December 26, 2011


Yes, Karen is in England here.
Her family feared they'd never
get their Anglophile home!
By Karen Wojcik Berner

Caroline, thank you for inviting me to guest blog today. I am very excited to be here.

When I was writing A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One), I knew I wanted to bring the main characters of Sarah and Annie together through a book club, but what kind?

Being an English major, the choice was obvious. What could be more fun than discussing the classics? After all, these novels have withstood the test of time and have been shared for hundreds of years.

Do you remember your first classic novel?

Mine was LITTLE WOMEN, which came from a huge box of books my mother had saved from her parents’ house. It was a hardcover, of course, with yellowing pages and a semi-cracked spine. Holding it in my ten-year-old hands, I remember thinking, “What the heck is this? It’s almost crumbling, for goodness sake.” I shrugged and dove in.

I spent the entire day immersed in the lives of Jo and her sisters. So vibrant! So entertaining! I could totally relate to them.

Wait a minute — a mid-1970s kid could identify with the Civil War-era March family?

That, my friends, is the magic of the classics. They tell fantastic tales that bridge time and still entertain us today.

Some expose societal ills and warn us against making the same mistakes. Harriet Beecher Stowe showed the evils of slavery in UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. Charles Dickens illustrated what happens when there is a vast disparity between the rich and poor through DAVID COPPERFIELD and OLIVER TWIST.

Others are shining examples of masterful writing, such as MRS. DALLOWAY. Reading Woolf reminds me how beautiful the English language can be. And no one blends a powerhouse storyline with gorgeous prose better than William Shakespeare.

Then there are the epic tales that still amaze me, stories that, although large in scope, still manage to connect to all of us on an individual basis. MOBY DICK, by Herman Melville, comes to mind here, as well as Homer’s THE ILLIAD and THE ODYSSEY.

At their core, the classics reveal universal truths of human nature, truths that do not change from decade to decade, from century to century. They are the very heart of literature.

The first novel the Bibliophiles read in A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One) is James Joyce’s A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN. Edwina Hipplewhite, the book club’s moderator, chose it because of its size, having wanted to ease the newly formed group back into the classics, not overwhelm them, which is a valid point. Some classics can take a lot of work, but they are well worth the effort.

A blurb of Karen's FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM:

Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurt?

Annie Jacobs has dreamed of the day she would become a mother since the first time she held her Baby Tenderlove doll. Unfortunately, biology has
not cooperated with her plan, and she finds herself dealing with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility instead of picking out baby names.

Across town, stay-at-home mom Sarah Anderson is just trying to make it through the grocery store without her toddler hurling a box of rice at a
fellow shopper. She is exhausted from managing the house, a first grader and a toddler, all without any help from her work-obsessed, absentee

When they meet through a Classics Book Club, each thinks the other one's life is so much better than her own. But is the grass truly greener on the
other side of the fence?

A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One) is available in paperback and e-versions at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble:


Karen Wojcik Berner lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right? However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much so that she majored in English and communications in college. Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the society that surrounds her.

The result is The Bibliophiles series of novels illustrating the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The first, A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, centers on Sarah, a stay-at-home mother of two, and Annie, a PR executive with fertility issues, each of whom thinks the other’s life is far superior to her own. The second novel, set for a February 2012 release, is Catherine Elbert’s journey as she bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self.

To learn more about Karen, please visit her website,

And here's Karen's question for readers:

Which work of classic literature would you like to read again or take a stab at for the first time?


Caroline Clemmons said...

Karen, welcome to the blog. Thanks for sharing.

katsrus said...

Your book sounds wonderful. Enjoyed your post. I really cannot remember my first classic book. I know we had to read them in school when I was a kid. Some books just get even better with age.
Sue B

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Hi, Caroline. Thank you so much for having me on your blog.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

katsrus: Thank you for your comments and you are right, the classics do get better with age. It is never too late to delve right in to one.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Karen, what an intriguing concept for a series! My first classic was one of the Bobsey Twins books. After that, it was The Old Man and the Sea. I read it when I was nine, and it really baffled me why that guy didn't cut the fish loose and go home. Why did I choose that book? It was short. LOL