Caterham & District


Following are reviews submitted to the Surrey County Libraries site following our Discussions.

The Light of Day by Graham Swift

The novel recounts a day in the life of a private investigator who, two years earlier, had undertaken a job which culminated in a murder. He was deeply affected by the incident and its consequences; the story is told entirely from his point of view as he recalls and tries to make sense of what happened. Opinions about the book were sharply divided: many readers criticised its staccato style, frequent repetitions and final inconclusiveness. Others found it a perceptive presentation of a man with an imperfect understanding of the other characters' motives and actions. We have discovered that "stream of consciousness" writing is not to everyone's taste!

An Officer and a Spy by Robet Harris

This novel is based on the notorious "Dreyfus Case" when at the end of the 19th century an innocent French staff officer was wrongly convicted of selling military secrets to the Germans, imprisoned under very harsh conditions, and finally exonerated after eleven years. The story is told from the viewpoint of Colonel Picquart: the officer who unearthed the evidence which at last forced the French military establishment to admit its errors.
All but one of our members found the book interesting and enjoyable, and admired the author's skill in presenting a complex sequence of events in a comprehensible and readable way. We agreed that Picquart was portrayed as a man of integrity but not a personally sympathetic person. Some members had found information about the case from other sources, leading to a discussion about the relationship between fact and fiction. And obvious parallels were drawn between the "cover-up" strategies described in the book and those still employed by powerful establishment figures over 100 years later.