Munsonville Society for the Humanities  

Each Thursday night, the Reverend Marseilles offered a discussion group, The Munsonville Society for the Humanities, where anyone with even a remote interest or accomplishment in the arts could lounge around his study, drink brandy, smoke cigars, and chat. 
 
Be a part of the chat by leaving your comment(s) below.
Rose Panieri said September 11th, 2017 6:14 am
I'm an avid reader-and no exaggeration -this book is one of the best thrillers I've read in a very long time. Many female authors who write similar stories-Anne Rice included- obsess over the physical perfection or flaws of their characters and nauseum. When writers brandish terms like "slander, soulful blue eye, long shapely legs, flowing blond tresses, etc.," I dump the book. Like Alfred Hitchcock, this author understands the power of imagination. She provides guidelines, but you'll have to "paint by numbers" to see the picture clearly. It's far more satisfying than having everything spelled out. Speaking of imagination don't expect the author to explain the mysteries. You're a grown up, figure it out. Were Melissa's experiences with John and Henry real, or was she dreaming? Was she anemic because her blood was being drained , or was she typical of malnourished teens? Were Melissa's fantasies part of her grieving process? How could one of her teachers also be a vampire? You'll swear you've figured it out...until the next chapter. Yet, unlike classic mysteries, you don't feel the author is playing games to deliberately muddy waters. And skipping to the last page won't help. The symbolism is rich, satisfying and sometimes frustrating. There are myriad psychological twists and turns that ultimately make the utmost sense. Read the book through once at face value. Then, go back for a second read to seek out the hidden meanings. Each character-even the animals- are something more than they appear to be. They're ordinary, but they're also archetypal. There is much Jungian psychology hidden between the lines that transform a seemingly simple story into something else dangerously deep.  
Holly Coop said:  June 4th, 2017 6:00 pm 
Reading "Bryony" has been for me as mesmerizing as Melissa's fascination with the great composer turned vampire, John Simons. Denise M. Baran Unland weaves a tale of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and romance seamlessly with Melissa's time travel fading in and out of the land of the living to a world of the dead captivating her dreams in the wee hours of the night. Her vampire rendezvous' eventually begin to overshadow her daylight hours as well. Denise's storytelling keeps her reader savoring every morsel and craving more - Bryony! Can't wait to sink my teeth into the next book in the series and looking forward to reading the entire series!
Joliet Montessori said: May 22nd, 2017 9:30 am 
Editor's note: The students below read and reviewed "Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone." An earlier draft was inadvertently published. The text has since gone through another copy edit.
Andrew, fourth grade: Thank you for letting me read your book. I loved how it was a mystery story. But it was confusing for me. 
Anonymous: Thank you for letting us read your book. I liked the story line. I didn't like you changed Lucille DuBois name a couple of times. 
Anonymous: Thank you for letting me read "Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone." A couple of things I liked are the plot, your unique ideas, and the unique names. A couple things I didn't like are all the typos, you changed one of the characters name many times, and it was a little hard to follow. Some people liked your book, some people didn't, but I did. Thank You!
Anonymous: Thank you for letting me read "Cornell Dyer and the Missing Tombstone." Some people liked it and some people didn't like it, but I did like the book. A thing I liked about the book is the plot of the story and your unique ideas. Something I didn't like is the typo. Overall this was a great book and I would highly recommend this to a friend. 
Anonymous: Thank you for letting me read your book. It was good, its just that I kinda wish that you didn't keep switching Lucille name in the book. Good luck on making new books. 
Anonymous: Thank you for letting me read your book. I like how it resembled "Scooby Doo." But it confused me with all the typos and the constant name change of Lucille DuBois to Isabelle DuBois. 
Anonymous: "I enjoyed it, although I didn't really take to it. I did find a few mistakes. I thought the beginning and ending were a bit confusing. I also think more time to let everything sink in would be nice.I did find a few typos."
Cam K: Thank you for letting me read your wonderful book. I really liked how it portrayed the old-fashioned murder mystery. I thought the book could have been a little longer ( over  one hundred pages). 
Jackie: First of all thank you for letting me read your book, I found it very interesting. I loved how you set everything up perfectly to the big plot twist where Donald B. Pemberton has a ghost inside him. The only thing I wasn't sure about was at the beginning. I wasn't sure what was going on in the trailer. 
Tommy Connolly said:   June 26th, 2012 7:31 pm
I reaeeeeely liked the book!
 
Mary Lynn Maloney said:   June 26th, 2012 3:34 pm
A fresh and original approach to the vampire tale. Focuses on the sometimes dangerous fuzziness between fantasy/reality. And, more importantly, encourages young people (and old!) to pay attention to their gut or instincts and stand their ground. Nicely done, Denise!
 
Vicki Thompson said:   April 28th, 2012 10:34 am
"Bryony" is a wonderfully suspenseful novel leaving the reader guessing and wanting more. After moving to the Simons' estate, Melissa becomes obsessed with the life of Bryony, the young wife of the Victorian composer, John Simons. As her obsession grows, the lines between reality and fantasy blur, when she is visited by the now Vampire composer and offered the opportunity to play the part of Bryony...for a price. As Melissa wakes up each morning, she is left wondering just how much of her experience was real and what was just a dream. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series! 
 
Dragon Alexander said:   April 21st, 2012 3:20 am
Unland performs brilliantly in “Bryony”, successfully combining multiple views of modern perceptions of vampires. She retains the monstrous horror of the creatures of the night not needing to display scenes of intense violence and gore, as well as presenting their seductive and sensual side without illustrating acts of unnecessary sexuality. At the same time, she weaves a tale of a girl on he cusp of womanhood attempting to decipher what her true perceptions and emotions are complicated by what may or may not be illusions granted to her by a vampire who shows a unique interest in her. It is definitely a fascinating read that I was unable to put down, and has me eagerly waiting for what will be revealed in the upcoming additions to the Bryony series. 
 
Sue Hovanes said:   April 3rd, 2012 10:37 am
Great reading!! Not your usual vampire book. The author does a great mix of vicotorian life, drama and suspense. 
 
Bobbi Towery said:   March 14th, 2012 9:27 pm
Great reading! Not your typical "I know what's coming next:" kind of book, no, the author keeps you in suspense from beginning to end. Very unpredictable...... Five Star!
 
Colleen H. Robbins said:   March 2nd, 2012 12:32 pm
Mixed in between the family drama and Melissa's growing love for John Simons are some subtle nods to vampires of the past: Barnabas Collins of the Dark Shadows television series, Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, and the 1922 silent movie Nosferatu. But Bryony is more than a ghost story, more than a vampire novel, and more than a coming-of-age tale: it is a cautionary tale where dreams don't always come true, and sometimes become nightmares. 
 
Colleen H. Robbins said:   March 2nd, 2012 12:31 pm
The bryony flower is beautiful but poisonous, and Melissa soon sees the darker side of Victorian life. Baran-Unland's character shuttles back in forth through time, contrasting Victorian Michigan with the mid-1970s. The two begin to blend together even during the day for Melissa. Are the vampire visits and time-travel just dreams? Even Melissa begins to wonder as the evidence grows. She has no fang marks on her body, but is struck by severe anemia. A music box from her grandmother's nursing home may be the same box described in old journals as belonging to Bryony. Her English teacher somehow invades her dreams of vampires and Victorian society. 
 
Colleen H. Robbins said:   March 2nd, 2012 12:31 pm
Her first assignment in school is to research composer John Simons, original owner of the mansion, and his young wife Bryony. Melissa is fascinated with Bryony's life. It seems as beautiful as the climbing bryony flower planted over much of the Simons estate. She awakens one night to see John Simons sitting in her bedroom, and they strike a deal: Melissa can continue to relive Bryony's life during her dreams in exchange for sips of her blood. Like her namesake flower, the life of Bryony begins to take over Melissa's dreams. 
 
Colleen H. Robbins said:   March 2nd, 2012 12:29 pm
Like Toni Morrison's Beloved, Denise M. Baran-Unland's Bryony blurs the line between reality and the supernatural. Melissa Marchellis, seventeen and suddenly transplanted from her suburban home to a small town just before her senior year, becomes fascinated with the abandoned Victorian mansion that looms over Munsonville. Odd things happen on the grounds, like the mist that follows Melissa whenever no one is looking and faint piano music heard in her bedroom at midnight. Then there are the missing hours on her way home from the library.
 
Kristina Skaggs said:   February 12th, 2012 8:28 pm
A wonderful glimpse through the eyes of a young girl of Victorian life. The balls, the food, and the mundane. As she slowly starts to realize that all is not what it seems, the reader rides along wanting to convince her that she needs to pull her head high, and leave the monsters alone. 
 
Kyanna said:   December 24th, 2011 3:33 am
It's wonderful to have you on our side, haha!