2017 Bookclub Reviews
Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
I remember that heatwave of 1976 very well indeed, but unfortunately the details of the book are now eluding me. I fortunately always do my notes immediately upon finishing so able to recall at least some of the writing. Most of the members felt the same.
We could not discover what the author was trying to say about this strict Irish, dysfunctional family unless it was just that. The mother had never married the children’s father as he was already married, but was always criticising others who did not marry. The father left home abruptly. Why?????? Abruptly I mean. He had a brother who had to be cared for so we found that out. A very sudden ending!!!!!! No real conclusions apart from everyone living happily ever after.
Nevertheless I did enjoy this book. The majority were bored at the beginning but enjoyed the second part. One member did not like the book.
The Lives of Stella Bain by Anita Shrew was a tale set in northern France during WW1, London and USA.
We felt the narrative of life at the front was hard hitting but apart from that, everything seemed too convenient. How does someone with absolutely no memory turn up by chance in London and get taken in by an affluent couple who give her everything she needs. Then the wife conveniently dies in childbirth so that her husband can marry the said person. The names took some believing e.g. August, Meritable, Nicodemus and then Stella Bain's name turned out to be a sort of anagram of her real name.
Most members sort of enjoyed the read, but found the tale far fetched and convenient.
The other book was The Silent Wife by A S A Harrison. Most enjoyed this book but one preferred, if she had to choose, the other one. This tale described amazingly how women (in the main) will endure unfaithful marriages. Why oh why? Well wealth and comfortable living seems to have a large input but perhaps lack of self esteem has another. When the worm turns though!!!!!!! When this particular partner took up with a very young person, although she was beautiful the narrative described exquisitely what it could be like for a middle aged man to live with a teenager.
Constant demands to go out, buy fashionable clothes, have up to date hairstyles and also GET MARRIED. We all (apart from one) laughed out loud whilst reading. I know I did it was described so well. Then the old saying "Hell knows no fury......................." came into play. The reader is not allowed to be told exactly what happens but has to make up their own minds - always a disappointment for our group and considered unacceptable. Hit men, murder, violence were all employed. We had a great time discussing this book.
We won't be able to include our hostess in our meetings for the foreseeable future as she is so ill. We all wish her and her son well. One other member sent a message to say she was not coming any more either, so we are 2 down. Have passed this on to the relevant people so hopefully we can recruit 2 more members very soon. The meetings will be held in my flat from now on.
Our next read is Instructions For A Heatwave and our next meeting is 18.12.17 2pm.
September 2017 - NO MEETING
I had to abort the reading of The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey as I just could not penetrate any meaning or story line. Fortunately 3 others felt the same. Four managed to get to the end but did not enjoy the book apart from one who found it okay/passable.
We read The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend. Some funny parts and comments on society - hated by 3, okay for 4.
The book for June 2017 was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This was a very readable book but we all felt that we couldn't make out what the author was trying to say.
There were issues mentioned e.g. vicarious pressure on children to succeed, jealousy of siblings, favouritism of one child, parents anxious to display western/white features such as blue eyes on there children, homosexuality (hinted at).
Liked by 4, all right for 2, hated by 1
16th May 2017
We've just had our usual meeting yesterday. The book we had read was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
A very thought provoking read about a deadly virus that eliminated 99% of the world, basically collapsing civilisation. We read about cults, gangs, rapes and all the bad things that happen but also about groups supporting each other and people providing others with culture and some other good things in life although these were few. One disabled man committed suicide so that his brother was able to leave him and pursue a sort of normality.
It was enjoyed by all the group apart from one who was unable to finish the book. My breakthrough was finding a novel that not one of the group would have normally considered and then had a jolly good read (apart from one).
The primitive conditions seemed well described and at the end it seemed that somewhere had been able to generate electricity as lights were visible.
The next book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng which has brilliant critiques. Looking forward to curling up with it.
Margaret King was our marvellous hostess as usual. We are down to 7 members at this time as one member has decided to take a break due to bad health.
5th April 2017
We have just read The Kitchen House which was loved by myself and one other. Two did not like it, two were noncommittal and one thought it was "okay". I was knocked for six I have to say but hey ho that's what it's all about.
I felt a bit despondent I have to say as it seems to be getting hard to find reading material that would suit the majority. But never mind, Jenny Brown has given me a fantastic reading list from book clubs at Southend library. I am over the moon.
Margaret King was her usual fantastic hostess with the mostest.
The next book is Station Eleven (hoping) and our next meeting is May 9th. We have also lost one member, at least for the foreseeable future.
20th February 2017
We had just read The Nightingale which is a novel based on the Resistance and the Vichy government during WW2.
My comments were that I loved the novel - it stirred my emotions deeply. Apart from one member we all felt the same and discussed the horror at the cruelty endured, the horror at the cruelty of ordinary citizens collaborating with the enemy. The subject of citizens collaborating stumped us. Would we have "joined in" if our families were threatened. We all agreed that you cannot condone in any way the actual cruelty these collaborators were able to inflict on their own countrymen.
One member felt no emotion about the story at all. The novel was not hated but obviously not enjoyed like the rest of the group.
Our next book is The Kitchen House and is about the slave trade.
Margaret King was our excellent host and we had a very enjoyable meeting.
17th January 2017
We had our first book club meeting of the year and I did the hostessing so that the ladies could see my flat. They all seemed to like it. Different to the book. Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee - an autobiography. I loved it and one other did also but one did not read it and the others really struggled. I was astonished but that's the way it is. The two who loved it, loved the language and the descriptions of places and people. The others had nothing good to say.
Next book is Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Comes highly recommended so let's hope more enjoy it.