|Group Leader||Chris Laukaitis||Tel 01604 847818||Email firstname.lastname@example.org|
Book Club Update No. 9 
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
A thought provoking book that had a very mixed response in the group. The novel and issues in it unfolded very slowly, some members were frustrated by this and also by the many unanswered questions. The only perspective we had was that of Kathy who, at the age of thirty-one, was retelling her life story; her perspective was limited and very passive, all of us wanted more information about the society that was controlling the way in which these young people were living their lives. However, the novel proved a good stimulus for a discussion of the moral and ethical issues raised. It had a very poignant ending.
|November 5th||The Choice||Edith Eger|
|December 3rd||Christmas on Lily Pond Lane||Emily Harvale|
|January 7th 2020||Wild Swans||Jung Chang|
Book Club Update No. 8 
Back Home by Michelle Magorian
Most of the group found this an enjoyable and easy read containing many nostalgic descriptive passages. It portrayed the difficulties experienced by different members of a family while adjusting to life at the end of the Second World War. Rusty had been sent to America at the age of seven, here she had experienced great freedom and at the age of twelve found it difficult to adjust to the austerity and restrictions of life in post war England. The adults in the family also had problems to work through and most in the group felt pleased with the decisions taken at the end of the book.
Book Club Update No. 7 
1984 by George Orwell
This was a challenging book to read, particularly the level of cruelty and violence that was depicted in the torture scenes, but most found it an interesting and compelling read. We felt that many aspects of Orwell’s disturbing view have been seen in different countries and cultures throughout the world.
We discussed the techniques of control and brainwashing used by ‘The Party’ that would have such an isolating and dehumanising effect on the individual. We also talked about issues that are pertinent to our lives: technology that seems to read our minds by sending targeted advertising, information overload, how can you spot the ‘Fake News’?
We felt this chilling read was an accurate warning of the future, rather than a simple work of fiction.
Book Club Update No. 7 
Snap by Belinda Bauer
This was an interesting and unusual crime novel by an author that was new to the group. It was gripping from the start but Bauer also managed to inject humour into the story of a shocking crime. The clichéd police officers, after many bumbled opportunities, manage with the help of a local fence and a young victim to finally work things out. At times you had to suspend reality but the book prompted discussion about the nature of crime at different levels and the impact upon victims. Not everybody found the ending satisfying, but if you are looking for something a little different this might be the book for you.
Book Club Update No. 6 
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
This was a beautiful, well-crafted book. The whole premise was laid out in the first chapter but the powerful prose, compelling plot that evoked strong sympathy for all the characters and the moral dilemma they faced and uncertainty as to how the book would be resolved, kept our attention to the end. The vivid descriptions of the settings and natural environment were a joy to read. A book that we would all recommend.
Book Club Update No. 5 
The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani
This book uses the familiar format of a young woman visiting India on the death of her grandfather to find ‘herself’ and also more about her family history, which her mother has repressed over the years.
Some in the group, felt that the portrayal of life in India lacked authenticity, which then cast doubts on the viability of aspects the plot. However, if you are able to move past this you are presented with the struggles of a young woman – her grandmother - to fulfil her dreams within the rigid boundaries and customs of the time. Many in the group found the story of this young woman, heart-breaking and compelling but felt happy with the decision taken by her granddaughter at the end of the book.
Book Club Update No. 4 
Goodnight Mr Tom: Michelle Magorian - Although written in 1981, we felt this well-written novel easily evoked the Second World War era of rationing, blackout and evacuees. It was an enjoyable and life-affirming book despite the fact that it dealt with difficult issues such as bereavement and abuse. Through simple kindness and nurturing, the characters were able to recover and grow.
Book Club Update No. 3 
Animal Farm: George Orwell – A book that many of us had read before that proved to be well worth a revisit. We found it an interesting and moving read; taking a simple context Orwell cleverly and carefully crafts a story of hope that gradually dissipates, laying bare the worst of human behaviour. He shows great insight into society and the human situation, which is just as applicable now as it was in the historic context. We felt great sadness at the plight of many of the animals, who despite hard work, conviction and heroism were ruthlessly exploited by their new masters.
Book Club Update No. 2 
The Good People by Hannah Kent. This was the second title we have read from this young Australian author. Based on a true story; the book was set in rural Ireland at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Kent’s powerful writing clearly portrays the hard, impoverished lives of the characters and their unquestioning faith in an ancient belief system full of superstition and ritual. The strength of their belief would lead two women to defy the advice of their Parish Priest and in their quest to rid themselves of a ‘changeling’ would subject a child to abuse and ultimate death. Although bleak and hard hitting, we all felt the quality of the writing, and the thoroughness of her research meant we would welcome another title by this author.
Book Club Update No. 1 
Our first book of the new year was Fellside by M R Carey. This was a difficult book to reconcile, although there were many aspects that we strongly disliked it was also a compelling read. We felt sympathy with the heroine Jess, and felt that the horrific portrayal of her time in prison was a mostly authentic description of the criminality and violence found in such institutions. We had difficulty relating to the supernatural element; it was far-fetched and detracted from the original story. The ending contained much gratuitous violence and did not provide a satisfying end to Jess’ story. So not a book we would recommend.
Book Club Update No. 9 
Our book for December was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This was an interesting and enjoyable read. It was well written, taking the reader through a wide range of emotions. The book had depth and was not frightened of discussing difficult issues but was interspersed with humour often based on rye observations of the human condition. A compelling read with an unexpected twist at the end.
Book Club Update 8
Our book for November was The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. We were all impressed by the quality of the writing; his beautiful imagery creating atmospheric detail of this glamorous, decadent, frivolous and superficial time in American history. We had lively discussions about many themes: ‘The American Dream’ and how tarnished it had become, the ‘carelessness’ that wealth and privilege afforded to the characters. However, we felt that at times the plot lacked substance and we wanted more information about many of the characters especially Gatsby and his associates.
Book Club Update 7
Our book for October was Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. In this book, the author retells the story of a double murder which happened in 1828 in Illugastadir, Iceland. It is a very well researched and a beautifully written book. Her descriptive prose clearly evokes the hardships of isolated communities living in difficult and impoverished circumstances. The attention to detail when describing the structures in which the family units lived and their daily routines is very evocative. The characters are interesting and gave rise to lively discussion about their actions and motivations. We found this book so absorbing that we have decided to read another title by the same author.
Book Club Update 6
Our book for September was Inside the Whale by Jennie Rooney. This is a beautifully written book giving delightful detail of family life and society in the 1930’s and 40’s and extending into the modern day. The book is narrated alternately by Stevie and Michael, which gives great insight into their feelings, emotions and motivations. Their lives, like so many others are changed fundamentally and both are traumatised by the impact of the war. Although they find care and love from others, they continue to feel a bond and a deep sense of loss. We were a little puzzled by the title, but research indicated that the author felt Stevie gained safety and security and Michael gained forgiveness.
Book Club Update 5
Our book for August was The Silk Factory, by local author Judith Allnatt. It is a well written book with excellent descriptions of the characters and settings. The story centred on Weedon Bec, had two interwoven plots, one in the modern day and one taking the reader back to Napoleonic times when the Military Ordnance Depot was built. We felt the modern day plot, depicting the problems of divorce, were a little cliched but the nineteenth century characters seemed very real and we all wanted to know more about their lives, the hardships they experienced and the consequences of events. There was great personal tragedy and memories of this echoed forward in time. Many of us will be looking out for more titles by the same author.
Please note that the book club is currently full (I can’t fit anymore in my front room!). I will start a waiting list and then contact you when a place become available, and / or if, I get enough names I would be happy to help a second group establish itself.
Book Club Update 4
Our book for July was The Child by Fiona Barton. This was a well written story that brought all the characters together. It held our interest to the very end, helped by many red herrings. All were surprised by the unexpected ending. It was a good read and one we would recommend.
Book Club Update 3
Our book for June was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This was a bittersweet story containing humour, pathos and romance. Although light in style; the story about a quadriplegic contained the challenging issue of assisted suicide. We enjoyed the depth of her characters and insight into family life. We were both gripped and moved by events in the book.
Book Club Update 2
Our book for April was Barkskins by Annie Proulx. We thoroughly enjoyed this book; which was ambitious in the both the centuries and continents it crossed. We found her characters interesting, but at times were disappointed not to hear more about their lives. Many of whom were living through hard, dangerous times with no recourse to justice or modern medical facilities. They were ruthlessly exploited by people whose only motive was profit and protecting their own livelihood. At times, the book felt disjointed; this was possibly due to the scope of the book, but also reflects the nature of society before modern communications. Journeys lasting months, if not years to keep in contact with distant family or to undertake a business meeting were common. A strength of the book was her descriptions both of the environment and the conditions the characters were living in; a strong sense of peril was very evident – human life was cheap. We felt great injustice and loss. Parts of the book were shocking and saddening and the issues are ones that regrettably we are still struggling with today.
Our May title was Autumn by Ali Smith. The response to this contemporary book was mixed, with many finding her prose a challenge, definitely not an ‘easy read’. However, it was a thought provoking book, with some beautiful and vivid descriptions that created images that required understanding at different levels, but sometimes left the reader feeling a little bewildered. There was humour in several sections that lifted the book. There was also a lot of play on words that some felt gave meaning to her themes but others felt added little. So, a deep book suitable for those who enjoy exploring themes, images and ideas rather than plot and characterisation.
Book Club Update 1
Our book for March was Now We are 40 by Tiffanie Darke. This book created a strong reaction and prompted vigorous discussion. The author, who has worked as an editor for a glossy Sunday magazine presented an image of Generation X (usually accepted as the cohort born between mid 1960s – early 1980s) that we found difficult to recognise and very opinionated. We felt the book was self-absorbed and London orientated. There was a lot of celebrity name dropping and it was written from the perspective of someone who was privileged and had a large disposable income and therefore bore little resemblance to the experiences of the majority. Sweeping generalisations were made that painted a very positive image of this generation with little evidence to support and equally made quite negative judgments of previous generations, many of which we strongly disagreed with. Very stimulating, but not a book we would recommend.
Our book for January was When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall. The book is set in a future where society has suffered from a catastrophic virus and subsequent problems with fertility, and also severe weather change with significant flooding. It is a gentle thriller, where an isolated family whose main contact with the outside world is through the internet are confronted by the arrival of a charismatic stranger. Should they celebrate the end of their isolation or be wary of this enigmatic young man. We enjoyed discussing how probable some of the changes to society were, both with regard to the virus and the severe weather patterns. Many found the book compelling but all were surprised at the rather abrupt ending.
This new group for 2017 met for the first time on Tuesday 1st August.
From then onward, the group will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at the leader’s home (in Kingsthorpe) from 1.30 – 3.30 pm.
We are a small friendly group. Our aim is to read and enjoy a wide variety and genre of books.
The members will choose a different title each month to read and then discuss at the next meeting. Refreshments will be provided at a charge of 50p. Please contact the leader for further details and our current book list.
Book Club Review 2017
Over the past months we have read and discussed four very different books:
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – set in a ruined castle, which was home to an impoverished and eccentric family. There was romance in the air with some very comedic scenes.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – a racy romp back in time to 18th Century Scotland.
A Five Year Sentence by Bernice Rubens – the shocking behaviour of the elderly protagonists which disturbed, entertained and depressed us in equal measure.
Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson – the group was surprised that the author was a man. Watson carefully captured the emotions of a woman struggling with traumatic memory loss. This, combined with a rising sense of danger, made for a compelling read. Who could she trust…
Not everybody has enjoyed all of the books, but they have stimulated interesting and lively discussion.