Classi Conversations Amazing Author / Book Series

Helen Fry in Conversation with Simon Parkin on his book Extraordinary Captives

December 4, 2022
The remarkable untold story of a Jewish orphan who fled Nazi Germany for London, only to be arrested there by the British government and sent to an internment camp for suspected foreign agents on the Isle of Man, alongside a renowned group of refugee musicians, intellectuals, artists, and—possibly—genuine spies.

AUTHOR – Simon Parkin is an English writer. He is a contributing writer for The New Yorker,[1] a critic for The Observer,[2] and the author of three non-fiction books. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the New Statesman1843, and he is a frequent contributor to The Long Read in The Guardian.[3]

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Cathy Tile Review on Fight Night by Miriam Toews

November 28, 2022
Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family. But it is Swiv’s exasperating, wise and irrepressible Grandma who is at the heart of this novel: someone who knows intimately what it costs to survive in this world, yet has found a way—painfully, joyously, ferociously—to love and fight to the end, on her own terms.

AUTHOR – Miriam Toews OM is a Canadian writer and author of nine books, including A Complicated Kindness, All My Puny Sorrows, and Women Talking. She has won a number of literary prizes including the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award for her body of work

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Cathy Tile Review on The Promise by Damon Galgut

October 24, 2022 A modern family saga written in gorgeous prose by three-time Booker Prize-shortlisted author Damon Galgut. Haunted by an unmet promise, the Swart family loses touch after the death of their matriarch. Adrift, the lives of the three siblings move separately through the uncharted waters of South Africa. Reunited by four funerals over three decades, the dwindling family reflects the atmosphere of its country—one of resentment, renewal, and, ultimately, hope. The Promise is an epic drama that unfurls against the unrelenting march of national history, sure to please current fans and attract many new ones.

AUTHOR – Damon Galgut is a South African novelist and playwright. He was awarded the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel The Promise, having previously been shortlisted for the award in 2003 and 2010

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Robin Lustig talks with Helen Fry on his book “Is Anything Happening?: My Life as a Newsman”

August 28, 2022
In this witty and illuminating memoir, BBC journalist Robin Lustig looks back on his life as a newsman, from coming under fire in Pakistan to reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall; and from meeting Nelson Mandela to covering Princess Diana’s sudden death. Astute, incisive, and frequently hilarious, Is Anything Happening? is both an irresistible personal memoir and an insightful reflection on world events over the past 45 years.

AUTHOR – Robin Lustig is a well known British journalist and radio broadcaster who anchored “Newshour” on BBC World Service and “The World Tonight” on BBC Radio 4.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Classi Conversations with Gary Barwin

July 18, 2022
Gary Barwin did a reading and talked about his book Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the CowboyWinner of the 2021 Canadian Jewish Literary Award For Fiction. An imaginative and deeply felt exploration of genocide, persecution, colonialism and masculinity–saturated in Gary Barwin’s sharp wit and perfect pun-play–Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy is a one-of-a-kind novel of sheer genius.

PRESENTER/AUTHOR – Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, and multidisciplinary artist and the author of 23 books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His recent national bestselling novel, Yiddish for Pirates, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour as well as the Canadian Jewish Literary Award and the Hamilton Literary Award. It was also a finalist for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems was also recently published to much acclaim. A PhD in music composition, Barwin has taught creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. His prose and poetry has been published in hundreds of magazine and journals internationally–from Reader’s Digest to Granta and the Walrus. 

Gayle Kertzman in Conversation with Marsha Lederman on “Kiss the Red Stairs”

June 22, 2022
Kiss the Red Stairs is a compelling memoir by award-winning journalist Marsha Lederman and delves into her parents’ Holocaust stories in the wake of her own divorce, investigating how trauma migrates through generations with empathy, humour, and resilience. Marsha was five when a simple question led to a horrifying answer. Sitting in her kitchen, she asked her mother why she didn’t have any grandparents. Her mother told her the truth. Kiss the Red Stairs is a gripping story of Holocaust survival, intergenerational trauma, divorce, and discovery that will guide readers through several lifetimes of monumental change.

AUTHOR – Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. Before joining The Globe, Marsha worked for CBC Radio, mostly in Toronto, where she held a variety of positions, including National Arts Reporter, morning news editor, and founding senior producer on Q. Marsha also worked for many years in private radio as a reporter, news anchor and talk show host. She was born in Toronto and has lived in Vancouver since 2007.

PRESENTER – Gayle Kertzman is Beth Tikvah’s Director of Programs, Events and Community Relations. This comes after seven years of serving the community as our Program and Lifecycle Coordinator.  In her role, Gayle is responsible for planning a wide range of programs, events and activities across the Synagogue membership, while deepening the connections with our members, the Jewish community and the broader community.  

Pauline Pankowski in Conversation with Eva Stachniak on Eva’s new book The School of Mirrors

June 16, 2022
A scintillating, gorgeously written historical novel about a mother and a daughter in eighteenth-century France, beginning with decadence and palace intrigue at Versailles and ending in an explosive new era of revolution.

During the reign of Louis XV, poor but beautiful teenage girls from all over France are sent to a discreet villa in the town of Versailles. Overseen by the King’s favorite mistress, Madame de Pompadour, they will be trained as potential courtesans for the King.

AUTHOR – Eva Stachniak is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of five novels. The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list in 2012. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. Born and raised in Poland, she moved to Canada in 1981, and lives in Toronto. Her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden, was published in Canada, US, Germany, Poland, and Italy.

PRESENTER – Pauline Pankowski 

Cathy Tile on “The Mystery of Mrs. Christie” by Marie Benedict

May 16, 2022
In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car-strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

AUTHOR – Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than 10 years’ experience as a commercial litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms. While practicing as a NYC lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women — and finally found it when she tried her hand at writing. 

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Helen Fry In Conversation with Tracy Borman on “Crown & Sceptre”

May 4, 2022
Appealing to the intrinsic fascination with British royalty, Borman lifts the veil to reveal the remarkable characters and personalities who have ruled Britain. Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Monarchy has been more ceremonial―a crucial distinction explaining the staying power as the royal family has evolved and adapted, avoiding the storms of rebellion that brought many of Europe’s royals to an abrupt end.

AUTHOR – Tracy Borman is a best-selling author, historian and broadcaster, specializing in the Tudor period. Her books include Elizabeth’s Women, which was Book of the Week on Radio 4 and Thomas Cromwell: the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant. Her highly acclaimed debut fiction trilogy, inspired by the events surrounding the Gunpowder Plot, comprises The King’s Witch, The Devil’s Slave and The Fallen Angel. Tracy’s latest book is Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Cathy Tile on “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War” by Lynne Olson

April 4, 2022
In 1941 a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman, a young mother born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour, became the leader of a vast intelligence organization—the only woman to serve as a chef de résistance during the war.

AUTHOR – Lynne Olson is an American author, historian and journalist. She was born on August 19, 1949, and is married to Stanley Cloud, with whom she often writes. In 1969 she graduated from University of Arizona. Before becoming a writer she worked for the Associated Press and the Baltimore Sun. 

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Helen Fry in Conversation with Robert Hutton on “Agent Jack”

April 3, 2022
Agent Jack is the incredible true story of  Jack King” – in reality, a bank clerk named Eric Roberts. Based in the UK he pretended to be a Gestapo agent and  hundreds of British-based Nazi sympathisers and informers passed their secrets on to him thinking  he was sending them back to Germany. Many were put on a salary by what they thought was the Third Reich and some were even ‘awarded’ Iron Crosses for their services to the Fatherland; they never found out the truth.

AUTHOR – Robert Hutton spent 16 years covering the British government for Bloomberg, taking in five prime ministers, as many elections, and the odd referendum. He is now sketchwriter for The Critic. 
His first two books were both satire: Romps, Tots & Boffins, is about the words only journalists use, and Would They Lie to You? was about the way politicians got around reality without actually uttering untruths (it was a more innocent age).

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Helen Rappaport in Conversation With Helen Fry on Her Book “After the Romanovs”

March 6, 2022
Helen brilliantly evokes the lives and stories of the Russian emigration to Paris…from artistic exiles in the days of the Belle Époque to the mass exodus of political refugees after the revolution of 1917… different country but eerily similar to today! Helen has written about an era where people fled for their lives because they feared the new leadership.. little did she know how like today her book would be!

AUTHOR – Dr. Helen Rappaport is an internationally & New York Times bestselling historian and author of 15 books specializing in the Victorian period and revolutionary Russia. She is a fluent Russian speaker and a specialist in Russian history and 19th century women’s history. Her great passion is to winkle out lost stories from the footnotes and to breathe new life and perspectives into old subjects.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Helen Rappaport in Conversation With Helen Fry on her book “Victoria”

March 6, 2022
Helen Rappaport talks about the life, loves, and relationships of Queen Victoria, about her children, her personal interests, the historic times in which she ruled, and the leaders she influenced, as well as her extended European family whose influence is felt today.

AUTHOR – Dr. Helen Rappaport is an internationally & New York Times bestselling historian and author of 15 books specializing in the Victorian period and revolutionary Russia. She is a fluent Russian speaker and a specialist in Russian history and 19th century women’s history. Her great passion is to winkle out lost stories from the footnotes and to breathe new life and perspectives into old subjects.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Rosemary Sullivan in Conversation with Rona Arato on The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation

February 28, 2022
The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation is the riveting story of their mission. Rosemary Sullivan introduces us to the investigators, explains the behaviour of both the captives and their captors and profiles a group of suspects. All the while, she vividly brings to life wartime Amsterdam: a place where no matter how wealthy, educated, or careful you were, you never knew whom you could trust.

AUTHOR – Rosemary Sullivan, the author of 15 books, is best known for her recent biography Stalin’s Daughter. Published in twenty-three countries, it won the Biographers International Organization Plutarch Award and was a finalist for the PEN /Bograd Weld Award for Biography and the National Books Critics Circle Award. Her book Villa Air-Bel was awarded the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award in Holocaust History. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and has lectured in Canada, the U.S., Europe, India, and Latin America.

PRESENTER – Rona Arato, a former teacher, is an award-winning children’s author with a strong interest in the field of human rights. From 1994 to 1998, she was an interviewer for Survivors of the Shoah, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors. She is the author of Courage and Compassion and the On a Day Story Voyages series, among others. She lives in Toronto.

Andrew Lownie in conversation with Helen Fry on his book “Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess”

February 13, 2022
In this first full biography, Andrew Lownie shows us how even Burgess’s chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years.

AUTHOR – Andrew Lownie  has a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His dissertation at Edinburgh was titled: Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess. Lownie founded his eponymous literary agency in 1988. It specialises in non-fiction, representing some 200 authors, and is reported to have “regularly been the top selling agent in the world.”

PRESENTER –  Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

January 31, 2022
Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

AUTHOR – Maggie O’Farrell (born 1972, Coleraine Northern Ireland) is a British author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones’ 25 Authors for the Future. It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives of her characters. 

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

In Conversation with Eric Jennings on his new book, “Escape from Vichy”
January 26, 2022

The story of the daring escape of Jewish refugees from Vichy France to the Caribbean. The origins of the Jewish Community in the Caribbean.

AUTHOR – Eric Jennings

PRESENTER –  Eric Jennings is a leading authority in the fields of modern French colonial history and the study of France and the Francophonie. His many publications in Canada’s two official languages have contributed to globalizing and de-centering the history of France.  They have spanned and involved archival research on five continents.  

Andrew Lownie talks about his new book, The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, with Helen Fry
January 16, 2022

The intimate story of a unique marriage spanning the heights of British glamour and power that descends into infidelity, manipulation, and disaster through the heart of the twentieth century.

AUTHOR – Andrew Lownie has been a bookseller, publisher, journalist , writing for the Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal , Spectator and Guardian, and since 1988 has run his own literary agency specialising in history and biography.

PRESENTER –  Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Helen Fry discusses her new book, Spymaster, with Robin Lustig
December 12, 2021
Thomas Kendrick was central to the British Secret Service from its beginnings through to the Second World War. He ran spy networks across Europe, facilitated the escape of Austrian Jews, and later went on to set up the “M Room,” a listening operation which elicited information of the same significance and scope as Bletchley Park. Yet the work of Kendrick, and its full significance, remains largely unknown.

AUTHOR – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

PRESENTER – Robin Lustig is a British journalist and radio broadcaster, who has presented programmes for the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4.

Klara & the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
November 29, 2021
The first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

AUTHOR – Kazuo Ishiguro is known as one of the greatest British authors. He has received 4 ‘Man Booker Prize’ nominations. He has also won a prize for his novel ‘The Remains of the Day’ in 1989. He was also ranked on number 32 on ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ by The Times.

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Andrew Lownie in conversation with Helen Fry on Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
November 7, 2021

Extensive and new research into hitherto unused archives and Freedom of Information requests, it makes the case that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not the naïve dupes of the Germans but actively intrigued against Britain in both war and peace.

Traitor King tells the story of a royal exiled with his wife, turning his back on duty, his family and using his position for financial gain.

AUTHOR – Andrew Lownie has been a bookseller, publisher, journalist , writing for the Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal , Spectator and Guardian, and since 1988 has run his own literary agency specialising in history and biography.

PRESENTER –  Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Anne Sebba returns to talk with Helen Fry about her new book Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy
October 10, 2021

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple with two young sons, were led separately from their prison cells on Death Row and electrocuted moments apart. Both had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. This book is the first to focus on one half of that couple for more than thirty years, and much new evidence has surfaced since then.
 

AUTHOR – Anne Sebba is an award-winning British biographer, writer, lecturer and journalist. She is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics.

PRESENTER –  Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

The Convert by Stefan Hertmans
October 4, 2021

In this dazzling work of historical fiction, the Man Booker International–long-listed author of War and Turpentine reconstructs the tragic story of a medieval noblewoman who leaves her home and family for the love of a Jewish boy.

Based on two fragments from the Cairo Genizah—a repository of more than 300,000 manuscripts and documents stored in the upper chamber of a synagogue in Old Cairo—Stefan Hertmans has pieced together a remarkable work of imagination, re-creating the tragic story of two star-crossed lovers whose steps he retraces almost a millennium later. Blending fact and fiction, and with immense imagination and stylistic ingenuity, Hertmans painstakingly depicts Vigdis’s terrible trials, bringing the Middle Ages to life and illuminating a chaotic world of love and hate.

AUTHOR – Stefan Hertmans is considered to be one of the outstanding Flemish writers of his generation. He has won or been nominated for most of the literary prizes in the Dutch-speaking world (Multatuli Prize, Arch Prize of the Free Word, AKO Prize, Libris Prize, Bordewijk Prize, Prize of the Flemish Provinces, ‘State’ prize of the Flemish Community, Paul Snoek Prize, …).

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Susan Ronald, author of The Ambassador, talks to Helen Fry
September  26, 2021

Acclaimed biographer Susan Ronald reveals the truth about Joseph P. Kennedy’s deeply controversial tenure as Ambassador to Great Britain on the eve of World War II.

Through meticulous research and many newly available sources, Ronald confirms in impressive detail what has long been believed by many: that Kennedy was a Fascist sympathizer and an anti-Semite whose only loyalty was to his family’s advancement.

“Ronald’s lucid narrative… not only examines United States resources, but also enhances the story by reviewing a multitude of British documents that few have included, resolving any ambiguities [and] leaving the reader with the inescapable conclusion that The Ambassador was a Nazi and fascist appeaser as well as a blatant anti-Semite.” — Irwin F. Gellman, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Secret Affairs.

AUTHOR – Susan Ronald is a British-American biographer and historian of eight books, including Conde Nast, The Ambassador, A Dangerous Woman, Hitler’s Art Thief, and Heretic Queen. She lives in rural England with her writer husband.

PRESENTER –  Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Genevieve Graham on her book “Letters Across The Sea”
August 11, 2021

Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that’s perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

AUTHOR – Genevieve Graham is the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child, Letters Across the Sea, Tides of Honour, Promises to Keep, Come from Away, and At the Mountain’s Edge. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure.

PRESENTER –

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Gayle Kerzman with Rachel Beanland on her book “Florence Adler Swims Forever”
July 28, 2021

Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets.

AUTHOR – Rachel Beanland is a writer of uncommon wit and wisdom, with a sharp and empathetic eye for character. She’ll win you over in the most old fashioned of ways: She simply tells a hell of a story.” 

PRESENTER – Gayle Kerzman

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Jonathan Kaufman talking to Rabbi Louis J. Sachs on his new book “The Last Kings of Shanghai”

July 21, 2021

Free Event
An epic, multigenerational saga of two rival Jewish families, the Sassoons and the Khadoories, who flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era.
A fascinating and easy read about the intrigues, passion, and remarkable history of how these families ignited an economic boom and opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country’s deep inequality and to the political turmoil on their doorstep.
In spite of their rivalry they combined their efforts to save hundreds of Jews in Shanghai & Lisbon during WWII.

AUTHOR – Jonathan Kaufman is Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, editor and author. He is currently Executive Editor for Company News at Bloomberg News. Projects he has overseen at Bloomberg have won numerous awards including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, several George Polk Awards, an Overseas Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award and Education Writers Association Grand Prize. 

PRESENTER – Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

Classi Conversations: Edward Rutherfurd talks about his new book “China”
June 21, 2021

This seventy-year family saga starts in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Through the human stories of British, American and Chinese families, the novel tells the sweeping and dramatic tale of how the West met the exotic Empire of China and humiliated her. The history it relates led directly to the tragic events of the twentieth century and the attitude of China towards the rest of the world today.

AUTHOR Edward Rutherfurd is best known as a writer of epic historical novels which span long periods of history but are set in particular places.

PRESENTER – 

Kate Vigurs in Conversation with Helen Fry on her new book “Mission France”
May 16, 2021

Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE

Formed in 1940, Special Operations Executive was to coordinate Resistance work overseas. Kate Vigurs interweaves for the first time the stories of all 39 female agents. Tracing their journeys from early recruitment to work undertaken in the field, to evasion from, or capture by, the Gestapo, Vigurs shows just how greatly missions varied.

Among them was Noor Inayat Khan, best known for her heroism as a clandestine Allied wireless radio operative in occupied France during World War II.

AUTHOR Dr Kate Vigurs is a professional freelance historian whose PhD at the University of Leeds was entitled ‘The women agents of the Special Operations Executive F section – wartime realities and post war representations’.  Her extensive research included interviewing agents, historians, actresses and script writers, as well as visiting France several times and undertaking an extensive tour of memorials to the women of F section including Ravensbrück and Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camps.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Emily Urquhart in Conversation with Carol Bishop Gwyn on “The Age of Creativity”
May 6, 2021

When Emily and her family celebrated the eightieth birthday of her father, the illustrious artist Tony Urquhart, she found it remarkable that, although his pace had slowed, he was continuing his daily art practice of drawing, painting, and constructing large-scale sculptures, and was even innovating his style. It has long been thought that artistic output declines in old age. Many well-known visual artists completed their best work in the last decade of their lives, Turner, Monet, and Cézanne among them.

With the curiosity of a journalist, Urquhart began an investigation into late-stage creativity, asking: Is it possible that our best work is ahead of us? Is there an expiry date on creativity? Do we ever really know when we’ve done anything for the last time?

AUTHOR – Emily Urquhart has a PhD in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes, was a Maclean’s bestseller and a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015. She teaches creative nonfiction at Wilfrid Laurier.

PRESENTER – Carol Bishop Gwyn is a former arts producer at CBC Radio and journalist. Her first biography, The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

Lesley Wyle in Conversation with Helen Fry on “Becoming Lesley”
April 25, 2021

At the age of 100, Lesley Wyle published her amazing memoirs.
She grew up in Vienna and after making it to the UK, worked for the BBC.
At the end of the war she worked for the Americans in Germany before coming to Canada and becoming an editor.
A heartwarming and true story of resilience.
 

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

An Evening with Mystery Thriller Writer Robert Rotenberg
April 15 2021

Robert Rotenberg is the criminal lawyer and novelist who’s made his fictional Toronto detective, Ari Greene, one of the top homicide sleuths in the world of contemporary mysteries.

Downfall” is his latest crime thriller. A page turner filled with references to places in the city you know well!  In “Downfall” he also explores the disparity between rich and poor and the homelessness crisis.

AUTHOR – Robert Rotenberg is the author of several bestselling novels, including Old City Hall, The Guilty Plea, Stray Bullets, Stranglehold, and Heart of the City. He also writes for television and teaches writing.

“ …being a writer makes me a better lawyer and being a lawyer makes me a better writer. Both are about the endlessly fascinating journey that we go through in our lives. That’s the story that I always strive to tell.

David O’Keefe In Conversation with Helen Fry on his new book “One Day in August”
March 21, 2021

The groundbreaking, thrilling, ultra-secret story behind one of WWII’s most enduring mysteries, which fundamentally changes our understanding of this sorrowful event in Canada’s past.

Classi Lectures provides a wonderful range of virtual talks and events on all periods and aspects of history. As a published historian specialising in the period after 1945, I cannot recommend them highly enough to anyone interested in the subject.” Trevor Barnes, Author

AUTHOR – David O’Keefe is an award-winning historian, documentarian and professor at Marianopolis College in Westmount, Quebec. He worked as a Signals Intelligence research historian for the Directorate of History and Heritage (DND). In 2002 he joined forces with Emmy award-winner producer Wayne Abbott; among the television documentaries they have made is Dieppe Uncovered, which aired simultaneously on History Television in Canada and Yesterday TV in the U.K. on 70th anniversary of the raid, to major acclaim.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Anne Sebba with Helen Fry on her book “Jennie Churchill – Winton’s American Mother”
March 14, 2021

Part of the Churchill The Man Series. In 1874 Brooklyn born Jennie Jerome moved into the British aristocracy to become Lady Randolph Churchill. At a time when women had few freedoms, she became a cornerstone of high society and a political behind-the-scenes dynamo. With unprecedented access to private correspondence Anne will tell the stories of Jennie – a woman known for her sexual freedoms and love life.

AUTHOR – Anne Sebba is an award-winning British biographer, writer, lecturer and journalist. She is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

The Kennedys in the World: How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America’s Empire
by Lawrence J. Haas
March 1, 2021

The Kennedys in the World tells a new, rich, fascinating, and consequential story about Jack, Bobby, and Ted Kennedy. From an early age the brothers developed a deep understanding of the different peoples, cultures, and ideologies around the world; a keen appreciation for the challenges that such differences created for the United States; and a strong desire to reshape America’s response to them.

AUTHOR/PRESENTER – Lawrence J. Haas is an award-winning journalist and former senior White House official, is senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, a columnist on foreign affairs, and a TV and radio commentator. 

Head of the Mossad: In Pursuit of a Safe and Secure Israel
February 21, 2021
Free event sponsored by CL & Beth Tikvah

In this exciting and engaging book, Shavit combines memoir with sober reflection to reveal what happened during the seven years he led what is widely recognized today as one of the most powerful and proficient intelligence agencies in the world.

Shavit offers a broad sweep of the integral importance of intelligence in these historical settings and the role that intelligence can and should play in Israel’s future against Islamist terrorism and Iran’s eschatological vision.

AUTHOR – Shabtai Shavit was the seventh Director of the Mossad, and served from 1989-1996. He was born in pre-State Israel in 1939, and grew up in Nesher.

PRESENTER – Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

Carol Bishop-Gwyn on her new book “Art and Rivalry”

February 1, 2021

“She painted as if with pure light, radiant colours making quotidian kitchen scenes come alive with sublimated drama. He painted like clockwork, each stroke precise and measured with exquisite care, leaving no angle unchecked and no subtlety of tone unattended. Some would say Mary Pratt was fire and Christopher, ice. And yet Newfoundland’s Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (or Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner…) presented their marriage as a portrait of harmony and balance. But balance off the canvas rarely makes great art, and the Pratts’ art was spectacular.”

AUTHOR – Carol Bishop Gwynn is a former arts producer at CBC Radio and journalist, published in The BeaverToronto LifeChatelaineMaclean’s and The Globe and Mail.  Summering in Newfoundland for over a decade, she developed a deep knowledge of the province’s visual arts scene, along with an excellent general knowledge of Canadian visual arts. Her first biography, The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and named a Globe 100 best book of the year.

That Woman

Author, Anne Sebba, in conversation with Helen Fry – January 24, 2021​

AUTHOR – Anne Sebba is an award-winning British biographer, writer, lecturer and journalist. She is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Eva Stachniak in Conversation with Pauline Pankowski

The Chosen Maiden – January 11, 2021
The Ballets Russes – January 18, 2021

AUTHOR – Eva Stachniak is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of five novels. The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list in 2012. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. Born and raised in Poland, she moved to Canada in 1981, and lives in Toronto. Her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden, was published in Canada, US, Germany, Poland, and Italy.

Red Sea Spies​
December 27, 2020

Raffi Berg, author of Red Sea Spies, talks about the true story of a daring Mossad operation to smuggle Ethiopian Jews from Sudan using a fake holiday village as cover.

AUTHOR/PRESENTER – Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website. A journalist for nearly 30 years, he has a particular interest in events in Israel, from where he has reported extensively in times of war and peace. He graduated in Modern and Medieval History from the London School of Economics, and was a student of Jewish and Israel studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Raffi is based in London, where he lives with his family.

PRESENTER- Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

War: How Conflict Shaped Us
December 14, 2020​

Drawing on lessons from wars throughout the past, from classical history to the present day, Margaret MacMillan reveals the many faces of war—the way it has determined our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves.

AUTHOR – Margaret MacMillan CC CH is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College, Toronto and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University. Macmillan is an expert on history and international relations.

PRESENTER – Iain Scott is perhaps one of Canada’s best-known and most popular opera educator and tour leaders. He now regularly teaches courses at the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, George Brown College, Jewish Community Centres, etc. … and increasingly in private homes.

Book Review Series with Cathy Tile​

A Woman Is No Man – by Etaf Tum – November 23, 2020
The Secrets We Kept – by Lara Prescott – January 4, 2021
A Long Petal By The Sea – by Isabel Allende – February 22, 2021
Go, Went, Gone – Jenny Erpenbeck – April 12, 2021
Apeirogon – by Colum McCann – May 31, 2021​

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Helen Fry in Conversation with Robin Lustig

M19 – November 8, 2020
The Walls Have Ears – November 29, 2020
The London Cage – December 13, 2020

AUTHOR – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

PRESENTER – Robin Lustig is a British journalist and radio broadcaster, who has presented programmes for the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4.