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Group News and Reviews
Next read for May 2019
The Lie by Helen Dunmore.
This was a TV book club recommended book and apparently has many twists and turns. We are meeting 13.05.19.
Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
Had our usual meeting and had a good chat and then got down to discussing Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming.
Myself and four others enjoyed this autobiography. Very sad as it covered child abuse and mental health problems in adulthood.
Not enjoyed by all. As it jumped from past to present, not everyone enjoys this format.
I did not find it difficult as it clearly stated what years were being written about.
Two people just do not like biographies.
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Most people liked the book but found it rather odd. It jumped about in time all the time, which can be very confusing. We could not understand how such a dysfunctional family could survive and could not understand what the author was getting at. Weird but compelling really summed it up. One person did not enjoy the book at all
The New Mrs. Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan
Everyone loved the book. It was absorbing and informative. It covered many subjects but especially the barbaric way that soldiers treat those they have defeated. A phenomenon that I know is common but hard to understand. The officers should prevent it but sometimes join in. The information about how to interrogate people was fascinating. I found the ending very disappointing. That is, nothing was completed and it seemed the reader had to make up their own mind. A sequel would be most welcome.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
Two persons immediately gave the book back as have already tried to read it and failed. Therefore, I gave out Crow Lake by Mary Lawson which was intended for December. I will have to get round the library quickly to get my next order in so that we have a book ready for the next meeting which is 26.11.18. Five of us will read Crow Lake and TRY the other one.
The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.
Our full compliment of 7 members attended this session. Enjoyed by most but generally found to be a light read. Too “Catherine Cookson” was a comment which most agreed with. One person really, really loved the novel.
Road Ends by Mary Lawson
Everyone found it a reasonable read and 5 really enjoyed it. Two found the to-ing and fro-ing between characters not to their liking and felt the story was drawn-out and instantly forgettable. Most enjoyed the story through the characters but wondered how/if these characters actually were “real”.
A completely inadequate mother only interested in young babies and a father who just carried on letting her have children even though the rest of the household was neglected by her. The family was “saved” by the one daughter who kept everyone and everything going, until she decided to leave home when everything went to rack and ruin. One small child was totally neglected and eventually helped by an older brother who “helped” him a bit.
The father seemed oblivious to what was going on - but how can you let a tiny child be totally neglected (he was never really fed or bathed and slept on a wet mattress) and not notice. Everyone was “put out” by this but it led to a discussion about mental health.
Yes, worth reading I think - I read it very quickly and enjoyed it, but when someone discussed it with me before the meeting, I found it hard to recall!!!
Exposure by Helen Dunmore
A rare read for myself and two others - would never usually touch espionage, but in the main this book was thoroughly enjoyed. It did flip from present to past and this could be confusing and it was written in present tense. Both of these points were not liked by the person who did not enjoy the book at all.
I did find that the author liked adjectives very much (a bit too much) but the characters were well drawn and identifiable. There were children in plot and it was mentioned how much responsibility these young ones were given which sparked conversation about how times have changed with regard to what children were/are allowed to do. Very different world now.
Homosexuality did appear which seems very common with this subject, but it wasn’t explained how one gentleman fell passionately in love with another man and then married and had three children and was passionately in love with his wife.
Lots of issues left to the imagination at the end, which was slightly irritating, but somehow we’re hoping for a sequel which doesn’t seem on the cards at all.
A very good yarn and well worth reading.
The Other Side of The Bridge by Mary Lawson
This author was suggested by a group member and proved to be very popular.
A very good read with believable characters. A family with two sons living in rural Canada near to an Indian reservation. Interesting and absorbing. Never guessed the ending. We will definitely read this author again.
The Watermelon Man by Pete Norman. And a visit by the author himself.
This gentleman is an ex-policeman, now retired and one of his pursuits is writing novels and short stories.
An introduction was made to Pete by Jenny Brown and he graciously accepted an invitation to talk to our group. The manager where I live was kind enough to let me use the communal room. It is fairly big, so I invited other residents and members of the discussion groups that Jenny runs and we had an excellent attendance. Pete gave a really lovely, inspiring talk about writing and about his life as a policeman in Southend. Everyone enjoyed the experience.
We all liked Pete’s book and asked him questions before the talk began. I particularly enjoyed all the local references that he uses e.g. Grand Hotel, Victoria Avenue, etc, etc, etc, even going into Barking and Romford that I know well. A good yarn with plenty of twists and turns and an ending that could lead to a sequel.
The Mockingbird Next Door by Maria Mills which is about author Harper Lee.
One person liked it. Three thought it was okay. Two, one of whom was me thought it dull, dull, dull. Marja Mills was a journalist who managed to interview Harper Lee who was a renowned recluse. She eventually moved next door to Harper and her sister. We heard a lot about them going to coffee and meals out but not a lot else. I wonder whether the minutiae of everyday life is dull even if you are a renowned author.
Alan Johnson’s second autobiography 'Please Mister Postman'
Two persons did not enjoy this book at all. Two really enjoyed it but because it was lighthearted and easy to read. One thought she would hate it but didn’t mind it. I enjoyed the book but found it dull. I was disappointed, like I was when I read one of Melvyn Bragg’s novels; really expecting these two lovely men to have produced wonderful reading material but finding both dull.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
I loved this book. It’s about a young black girl in the Deep South of USA. I found the story fascinating in parts and felt the author was able to describe things really well.
Not so for the rest of the group. Two “didn’t dislike” but would not read any more, which is a shame because there’s about 5 in a series; one had to force herself to finish the book; one said it “was not one of her favourites” and one said she could not empathise with the characters.
Hey ho, that’s the way it is. No problems, just different opinions.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.
Guess what - we all liked it.
It kept us guessing all the way through even though some members felt they had already read it. This novel really demonstrates the saying - nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. It also demonstrates what the human spirit can achieve. Lots of sadness but also moments of laugh out loud comedy - when he was met by almost every section of humanity no matter how small the number might be, it reminded me of a BBC discussion show. The descriptions were amazing - his sore feet became so real. Highly recommended.
Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
Three (out of six) hated the book for a wide variety of reasons - boring, not true, being just two.
Three out of six found it amusing and a reasonable read.
I myself was astounded by the exploits this child got up to and wondered how he didn’t turn out delinquent and how the terrible accidents he had didn’t leave him permanently injured. Needless to say, I won’t be getting any more of the books in the series for the group to read.