Thursday, 29 June 2017

Havisham - Questions

Hello,

Here are some questions to do with this months book club. There may be spoilers in these questions so please be aware of this.

•     Havisham belongs to a literary legacy of books that seek to expand on key characters from classic works of literature, like Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. How would it be a different experience, now that you’ve read this book, to return to Great Expectations?
•     Though Catherine had the business acumen to be a success in today’s world, in her time that might not have been the case. Was Catherine, as a woman, doomed by her times not to be independently prosperous, or was her collapse solely caused by her heartbreak?
•     How do you think Miss Havisham would be treated by society at large these days, in light of her disturbed mental state? Would she, for example, be diagnosed as an agoraphobic and treated accordingly? Are we more enlightened about mental issues in the 21st century?

Monday, 23 May 2016

I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh


We all watched the YouTube video create by Clare specially for our book club where she answered some question that I'd sent her. We all enjoyed the video and found that it gave us a lot of extra background with regards the book and some of its elements.


Please be aware that there might be some spoilers in this review, do not continue to read this review unless you've either read the book or don't mind being spoilt!


The main element of this months discussion focused around how we mostly all fell for the big twist in the very middle of the book! We all loved how it was done, and even if we had slightly guessed at it we were still excited by it and wanted to know how Clare would work the rest of the book so that is kept our interest. We really should not have worried! There was so much more to come, and the real culprit of the crime isn't revealed until right at the end of the book.


The second half of the book was really creepy in contrast to the first half after we're introduced to Ian. We really enjoyed reading about how the relationship between Ian and his girlfriend/wife evolved. It really gave an excellent example of how an abuser can be so manipulative in order to keep their partner with them. The fact that we could see the relationship mature over a long time period made so much more realistic. It made everything that happened afterwards seem so completely believable and understandable in terms of how everyone reacted. Ian was so incredibly creepy as he isolated his wife from her friends and family. He even learnt from his mistakes in previous relationships in order to be a "better" abuser! We had a lot of discussion about how someone could have that amount of power over someone so easily.


We felt that the background Clare Mackintosh has as a police officer dealing with people like Ian and situations like a hit and run really came through in this book. It wasn't cold and factual but you could tell that the basis for the story was real. Having some chapters from the viewpoint of the police was interesting and just enough for us as lay people reading a thriller.


Our final thoughts were for the last part of the book and what that meant, thankfully Clare explained her reasoning in the video which settled our minds a great deal. We then wondered if Jenna would ever be happy given her past. We came to the conclusion that although the things that happened would always haunt her she would probably be happier now than she ever would have been before. We all liked Jenna as a character and felt that this ending was appropriate for her.


Overall we gave this book 9 out of 10.

I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh - Youtube Video

Here is the link to the youtube video that Clare Mackintosh made for our book club. If you haven't read the book please be aware that there might be spoilers.


I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh - Questions

I hope you’ve all been enjoying this months book, and thanks for the questions you sent me for the author.

Don’t forget to vote for the next few months books, i need your votes before Thursday 28th April.


Here are some questions for you to look at after you’ve finished the book, please be aware there might be spoilers in the questions!
  • How does the author pull the wool over the reader’s eyes in preparation for the first major twist? How did you feel when you reached it?

  • The ending is intentionally ambiguous: what do you think happened at the end of the story, and do you think it was the right ending? How would you have resolved the story?

  • The author of I Let You Go is a former police officer. Do you think this is evident in the storytelling?


The Crimson Ribbon - Katherine Clements

Everyone had finished the book that attended book club this month.


The main points that came from our discussion was that we felt that we were following things through the wrong person, we would have preferred to be watching through Lizzie Poole's eyes rather than Ruth. That would have meant we would have some idea as to why she did what she did. We wanted to know why Lizzie became as politically active as she did, it just seemed to come out of the blue for us as readers. Given that there was so little written about Lizzie Poole in terms of first hand evidence the author really could have done a lot more with her in terms of giving her possible reasons for her behaviour.


We also wanted to have more from the other characters in the book like Joseph, as he was one of the only characters we actually liked. We would have liked a little more of his history as it did seem interesting to do with the printing presses etc.


We all felt that Lizzie was a very spoilt character who seemed to do everything she could simply to get attention with little thought as to how it would affect those around her or even how things would pan out for her. We honestly could not see what Ruth did in Lizzie, why did she follow her like a little puppy dog into so much trouble? Lizzie seemed to think of people as simply things to acquire to make her feel special. She wanted Ruth so she just took her and took advantage of her, and this happened with a few other people in the book as well.


Considering when this book is set we didn't really feel any kind of fear either to do with the politics of the day or to do with the witch trials, both of which Lizzie and Ruth were mixed up in. We all wanted more background in these elements put into the book because to be honest it really could have been anywhere with the amount of historical detail we felt we'd been given. The witch trials especially could have been a really interesting element given how the book started. We felt that there was a lot of missed opportunities in this book overall. We came away from the book with not much more knowledge about this period in history than we had going into it, not the sign of a good historical novel.


We really didn't like the insta-love between characters and the love triangles that happened. This just made it feel like a badly written YA type book relying on the typical love tropes.


We gave this book 5 out of 10.

The Girl On The Train - Paula Hawkins

Everyone in the meeting had finished the book. This was probably because it was quite a short book written in an easy style. But we did not think this was much of a page turner, it didn't grip anyone.


As this book was sold as a tense psychological thriller we were all looking forward to reading it, but we found that we got a little confused with all the jumping backwards and forwards in time. Especially as a lot of the characters felt very similar and quite 2 dimensional. Plus we felt that there really wasn't much of twist as some of us had worked out what was happening and the rest just weren't taken that much by surprise.


A lot of the book was written as if we were in the characters minds so we didn't get a lot of interaction between the characters. This meant we felt a little put to one side with little connection to the characters. We also felt they were a little dull and we didn't really empathise with them very much. We weren't given enough background to feel anything for them at all. We felt that the story wasn't very well developed, and the characters and the plot could have been much better with a lot more polish. It felt like we were reading just facts, maybe the outline of the book rather than a completely realised book. There just wasn't enough depth to the book, and it lacked the creepy factor that is needed in a psychological thriller.


We did find the use of the "rear window" trope to be interesting as it is something that everyone does either on a train, bus or simply out for a walk. To see a lit window and not glance at it is unusual. We thought about how the things we might see through that window might look like a perfect life as a beautiful domestic scene but we never know what's lurking beneath.


We discussed the issue of domestic abuse, both physical and emotional and the reasons that people in abusive relationships might or might not stay.


Overall we gave this book 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Girl On The Train - Paula Hawkins - Questions

Here are the questions for this months book club:
  • The chapters alternate between the three narrators – Rachel, Megan and Anna – and move back and forth in time. How did this structure help to maintain the twist and the secrets? How did you find this added to the suspense and intrigue?

  • At the end of the book everything is revealed to the reader, and the characters explained. Did it change how you felt about Rachel? Or Megan? Did it affect the way you thought about all of the events leading up to this moment?

  • A crucial question in The Girl on the Train is how much Rachel Watson can trust her own memory. How reliable are her observations? Yet since the relationship between truth and memory is often a slippery one, how objective or "true" can a memory, by definition, really be? Can memory lie? If so, what factors might influence it? Consider examples from the book.

  • Other characters in the novel make different assumptions about Rachel Watson depending on how or even where they see her. To a certain extent, she understands this and often tries to manipulate their assumptions—by appearing to be a commuter, for instance, going to work every day. Is she successful? To what degree did you make assumptions about Rachel early on based on the facts and appearances you were presented? How did those change over time and why? How did your assumptions about her affect your reading of the central mystery in the book? Did your assumptions about her change over its course? What other characters did you make assumptions about? How did your assumptions affect your interpretation of the plot? Having now finished The Girl on the Train, what surprised you the most?