Tuesday, 29 June 2010

This Book Will Save Your Life - June Book Club

Firstly we discussed the new books chosen for the end of 2010, these are:

October - The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent
November - Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant
December - To Kill a Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

We also discussed ideas for the Christmas meeting which will be on 16th December to avoid being between Christmas and New Year. The following ideas were put forward - pot-luck food in the meeting, a secret santa with a book theme, an extra meeting in the New Year at a different location. Discussion of book of the month followed on from this discussion.

Everyone saw the book as not very plot driven, some people liked this driftiness whereas others felt a little adrift with it. It was thought that maybe the whole thing was just a dream because it felt so disjointed and some of the elements were very odd and almost dreamlike or nightmarish.

Everyone felt that the book had a smooth easy-to-read style, we wondered whether it was like this because the author was female. However, a lot of people were initially put off by the self-help style or the title, although the donuts on the front cover of some editions helped draw us in a little.

We discussed whether we felt that people were taking advantage of Richard, or whether they showed their gratitude to him enough when he helped them. We were particularly concerned with how Cynthia behaved towards Richard and whether she should have accepted everything she did from him. It was felt that although Richard didn't get any money or gifts in response to his original gifts maybe people repaid him in friendship.

There was a bit of a split over the ending of the book with some readers thinking that Richard had finally managed to become a better person, while others felt a little nervous at his precarious position at the very end. We discussed whether Richard would go back to his wife, or his original house, or do something completely different after the book ended.

There was a 50/50 split between the group as to whether they would recommend the book to friends or not. This was also reflected in the marking out of 10 with 7 being the overall score but there was a large gap between the high and low marks.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

This Book Will Save Your Life - Questions


Just a few questions today to think about for Thursday:

- This books title makes a grand claim, do you think the book could change you life? Why?
- Do you think A.M. Homes, a female writer, convincingly portrays a middle-aged male narrator? Are there any points you found particularly convinsing?
- What has precipitated Richard's mid-life crisis? Have you experienced a similar turning point in your life?
- "Richard thinks of the house on the hill, of moving back, of being alone. He cannot bear the idea of going back to what was, spending the days home doing nothing." Instead, at book's end, we find him "floating, waiting to see what happens next". What do you think happens to him?

See you all on Thursday!

Questions from PPH bookclub.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - May Book Club

First we have to thank Kathryn Williams for bringing a very delicious cheese cake which was enjoyed by everyone!

Almost everyone got through this months book, some people have even read it twice! On the second reading and after having watched the online bookclub it was felt that more could be found in the book.

We all thought that Jean Brodie was an "interesting" character, she seemed to have some very odd relationships with the men and also the girls in her life. We weren't sure why she seemed to have lots of holiday romances but the two men in the school with whom she could have a proper relationship with she shied away from. We weren't sure if this had anything to do with her first romance, and the fact that he had been killed in a situation outside her control. This lack of control could have then created the creature Jean Brodie became in this novel.

Jean Brodie seems to have been very egocentric, setting up situations to please herself not caring about the lives of those around her. In some cases she seems to be actually living through the girls, especially when it comes to a sexual relationship with the art teacher.

When it comes to the "betrayal" we were sure it wasn't actually a betrayal, but really a protection of the new Brodie set. We felt that the girl who let Miss MacKay know about Jean Brodie's facist side was doing so for the right reasons.

It was felt that the writing style was very sparse with no waste. Some people enjoyed this style along with the lack of a strong plot structure. Others felt they didn't get on with this style.

Overall we gave this book a 5 out of 10 with a pretty even spread of marks from 2-7 out of 10.