Interest Group Contact
Please contact Pat Cluness using the Book Club email contact link.
If this Interest Group is full and you would like another created, please contact the Interest Groups Coordinator.
Local Libraries August 2020:
I have been able to get books from the library, so from next month we will all be able to read the same book and compare views. Pat.
Group News and Reviews
Due to the Coronavirus the group will not be physically meeting. However, the book and reviews will continue on schedule via email.
Next read for review for 2 November 2020: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Eternal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Most of the members found the book to be a goodish read apart from the tedious lists of names etc. A common issue with biographies I find.
The subject matter is so interesting that I think we’re all glad that we’ve read it and feel informed. Many issues were covered apart from the incredible removal of cells from an ill person without her knowledge or consent. Lots issues within the black community were also raised and also family issues and problems.
One member absolutely loved the book and found it extremely interesting.
One thing I have found “interesting” is that most of us were not aware of this story prior to now!!!!
SEPTEMBER 2020 - back to a single book review by all members
The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
It was enjoyed by everyone and the comments were very similar. The barbarity, the inhumanity and the contrasts between the two girls’ lifestyles were astounding.
Slavery, in all its forms is a complex issue but it is hard to understand the unbelievable brutality. Based on the true story of two sisters, a thoroughly recommended book.
AUGUST 2020 Individual reviews of each book chosen by the group member.
Clinging To The Wreckage by John Mortimer
This is the first of five autobiographies from this much admired and highly regarded author and lawyer.
This was read and enjoyed many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed again. Obviously biographies tend to have tedious lists of various names, places etc and this was no exception (not too many though). A privileged life that covered childhood and up to first marriage. John Mortimer comes across as a lovely, kind and thoughtful person. Delightful read
Sisters At War by Millie Adams
This novel is about two sisters living on Jersey during WW2. They were very different personalities. One very kind and thoughtful and and one totally self centered. The latter married a Nazi officer and had a baby by him and needed support from family when he was killed on the Russian front. Thoroughly enjoyed.
The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy by Barbara Vine
Starts with the death of a popular author. His elder daughter is asked to write a biography and discovers that he has lied about his early life. The book follows her progress in uncovering the truth in tandem with his widow’s memories of their marriage. An absorbing tale. Barbara Vine is better known as Ruth Rendell. Reader prefers the more psychological Vine books
Lockdown by Peter May
This book was written in 2005 but not published until quite recently. It’s about a viral pandemic and how the authorities handled it by arming troops to keep people at home. In the tale, it is known where the the virus comes from but it’s more brutal with murder involved. Reader thought how uncanny it was for an author to write about a pandemic similar to the present one so long ago. It was also commented that this book was not as enjoyable as his other many novels.
The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley
Rags to riches story about a young girl from Naples who becomes a famous opera star. She is infatuated at a young age by an older opera star and eventually has a disastrous marriage to him. The story takes the form of a letter to their son to be read after her death.
The complications of her life and her family and friends covered everything from illegitimacy, fraud, passionate love affairs with Roman Catholic priests, fatal breast cancer and unrequited love. Easy read but difficult to believe in characters. Not particularly recommended.
In A House Of Lies by Ian Rankin
This book follows the pattern of his other thrillers except that he has now retired his detective Rebus from the Scottish police force. Rebus cannot stop interfering in his old colleagues’ latest investigation especially as his old sidekick is on the case and picks his brain for any ideas he may have. Many red herrings as usual, but satisfying conclusion and thoroughly enjoyed.
JULY 2020 Individual reviews of each book chosen by the group member.
Patronising Bastards by Quentin Letts
A re-read of a book originally heard about on television.
The reader has always thought this author to be a disagreeable person. However he covered a multitude of subjects, Politics, Royalty, Religion, Education, Health and lots of his views were thought to be quite acceptable. As the book entered the halfway point his views were hard to take on board and quite unpleasant. Nothing was exempt from criticism and it certainly covered views about all political parties.
Thoroughly enjoyed and recommended.
The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory
This tale was about Henry VIII. Lady Margaret Pole tells her story of how Henry grew from a lovely little boy into a tyrannical King. She felt threatened, so kept quiet but her head ended up on the block for being guilty of being from the Plantagenet Royal Line.
Reader found this book fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed
Lunching at Laura’s by Claire Rayner
This is about a woman who runs a Hungarian restaurant in Soho and a Canadian who has come to London to trace his family. The restaurant is owned by a family trust set up by Laura’s grandparents and the story follows what happens when property developers become interested in the area.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This is an account of a psychotherapist’s attempts to get a patient to speak again after being accused and charged with the murder of her husband.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that therapist and patient both had very abusive childhoods and are both really damaged. The woman eventually starts to speak and gives her account of the murder and what led up to it. Running alongside is the therapist’s account of his personal life.
The final chapter reveals a final twist that reader didn’t see coming despite clues.
The reader enjoyed this book
The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
This book had been passed to reader by her grandson who had been recommended it by his English teacher.
It is about two teenage boys. David, who clearly wants to be a girl but has not shared his problems with anyone and Leo, born a boy who soon realised he was a boy in a girls body and is receiving counselling and awaiting gender reassignment when he comes of age.
The book is about their friendship and their struggles with acceptance.
No happy endings. Readers have to make up their own minds. Found to be overwhelmingly sad at times but mixed with humour. A very good read
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for J K Rowling)
A great murder mystery with lots of twists and turns. Gripping and in-put-downable.
Really, really enjoyed
JUNE 2020 Individual reviews of each book chosen by the group member.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Suffered for O Levels and reread. Didn’t enjoy but did appreciate Austen’s observation and humour
When All Is Said And Done by Anne Griffin [thought that was an ABBA song?]
Reminiscences of an elderly Irish man who is talking in his head to his son in America. Found to be very believable and moving
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
A reread of a book read by the group approximately 5 years ago. Not enjoyed by many, but it fascinated reader then as now. The story exposed the horrors of the cultural system that allowed young girls to be sold and brought up to be solely for the pleasure of men. Repulsive. Despite above, it was enjoyed
MAY 2020 Individual reviews of each book chosen by the group member.
A Lady’s Diary by Rachel Johnson
This book covers the time when author was asked to edit The Lady magazine and try to increase circulation and bring up to date. She had to deal with sabotage and bad feeling and had a battle on her hands most days. I did enjoy but it was tedious in parts, due I think to diary format. I would not, “not recommend” this book.
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
An historical story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville and later wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. Thoroughly enjoyed and recommended.
The Walls Came Tumbling Down by Babs H Deal.
The story began with the discovery of a baby’s skeleton within the walls of a sorority house. It continues with the the events of a group of women who stayed at the house for a summer course and long vacation 20 years previously Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended
I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May
Takes place in Outer Hebrides. Descriptions of scenery are magnificent. A married couple who live there make highly regarded tweed and are famous for this the world over. He is killed in a car crash with another woman in Paris and wife believes that he was being unfaithful to her. Really enjoyed
Tidelands by Philippa Gregory
Historical fiction in era of Charles 1st when he was eventually beheaded. The story revolves around a very poor widow with two children who becomes infatuated with a young Catholic priest. A good read and highly recommended
Gower Street by Claire Rayner
This author was new to the reader and she felt it showed unexpected depths with the subjects of homeless children and petty crime on the streets of London in early 1800s. A first novel in a series of twelve. An interesting introduction to the reader of this novelist and a recommended read.
Homegoing by Yoa Gyasi
Everyone found the book hard going. The style of writing gave rise to confusion and spoiled the narrative. The differing names of people and where they fitted in he story was hard to remember.
One person enjoyed the book but was horrified by the cruelty. One person found the book choppy and uncomfortable. One person has not quite finished the book, but has found it an interesting read and felt that everyone should read about the horrors of slavery. One person was affected by the repulsive atrocities but felt she was aware of these whilst being glad she has read the book Two persons recognised the atrocities but were affected by the atrocities inflicted by the black communities on their own people
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
A strange novel for me. Very odd in parts and so many adjectives made it a tedious read in parts. However, others found it quite enjoyable and felt that the issue of AIDS was dealt with very well. What was it all about I wondered, but others did not have a problem. A 14 year old in love with her uncle who died of AIDS and his partner who got the blame incorrectly. She then fell in love with this person. Possibly extreme hero worship. Definitely a hit with some.
In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott
This book was an autobiography about her life growing up in the cult known as The Plymouth Brethren. Controversial subject but the book group basically had the same feelings. Clever, intelligent people, suicide very common, no place for equality especially with women - why oh why does it happen?
The punishments inflicted on those who questioned or deviated from the rules were phenomenal e.g a woman separated from her dearly loved sister, whole families ostracised, unbelievable cruelty.
It was a very thought-provoking book, causing anger but also a fascination with something so different to our own lives and upbringing.
Daughters by Elizabeth Buchan
A very ordinary book, soon forgotten. Quite enjoyed but not overly so. One person found it boring. Covered issues of step families, betrayal, extended families etc etc etc. We went on to discuss politics, the royal family Christmas, families etc etc etc.