Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Next of Kin - Questions


Here are some questions to guide your reading with this months bookclub book.

- There are a lot of familial relationship in this book, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, and displaced children. What are your thoughts on the different relationships portrayed?

- There are plenty of twists and red herrings in this novel, did you try to work out the ending while you were reading, and if you did try did you succeed?

- Did you read the previous books in the series? Do you think they are meant to be read as a series or as stand alones? How do you feel about reading books from a series in bookclub?

- As a thriller do you think the author paid equal attention to both the plot and the characters, or did he focus his writing energy on one more than the other?

See you all on the 26th!

Questions from PPH Bookclub. Feel free to re-use but don't forget to attribute!

Next of Kin - Richard and Judy Podcast


Here's a quick video of Richard and Judy interviewing David Hosp and his book (and our bookclub book) Next Of Kin. It is a little bit bad with regard to the sound but it is quite interesting.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

The book group have one major thing to say about this book, and that is you must read the prologue to the book! Possibly read the prologue after having read the book as well as before. This ensures that you go into the book understanding that it's a parody and not something that is as funny as a stand alone novel. Having said this there are a few moments in the book that are laugh-out-loud funny but mostly towards the end of the novel. For example, we all found it hilarious when Urk charged out of the farmhouse with Merium.

Once you realise this is a parody there is an awful lot more to laugh at including the massive amounts of references to gothic books of the time with people "taking to their beds" something i  think we would all like to do at one time or another. Also the fact that not all the secrets were revealed is very gothic, we thought more of the time that the secrets were nothing big and scary but just a literary device. For example, the something in the woodshed secret was probably someone making use of the woodshed with their special friend. Also the story changes as Ada Doom thinks about it going from a woodshed to a cowshed to any number of other outbuildings. Maybe nothing happened at all!

The use of *'s is also explained in the prologue, again this would have made the reading of the book more enjoyable had we all read the prologue. Basically the *'s are there to "help" the reader to notice passages of particular literary merit in the eyes of the author!

We all decided that Flora was a bit of a Mary Poppins type character, going into this falling down farm and odd family and tidying it all with what seemed to be little effort. We also thought Flora could be compared to Jane Austens' character Emma with her meddling in the lives and loves of everyone she comes across.

We felt it was a little tricky to date what with the use of video phones and everyone taking planes everywhere. But this was in contrast to the very Austen feel of Flora getting only £100 a year and going down to London to get things like clothes etc. It was, however, easy to place the story in the countryside simply because of the use of strong accents. Some of the book club readers did find it a little taxing to read in those accents especially as many of the words were made up.

We decided to give this book a mark both before and after we had been told that it was a parody. Before we knew we gave it 5 out of 10, after we knew we gave it 6 out of 10.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Cold Comfort Farm - Questions


Here are some questions for you all to think about before our meeting:

- Several 'secrets' remain unanswered by the end of the novel, such as what Aunt Ada saw in the woodshed, what Flora's rights were, and what wrong was done to Flora's father. Were you disappointed that these questions were never answered?

- This is one of the books on the Mood Boosting Books list, did it work for you?

- This book is a parody of many of the books set in the country that were also published at around the same time. Did you find it funny at all? What makes it so funny?

- There are some quite strong accents in the book did you find these helped or hindered your enjoyment?

- Gibbons wrote a few sequels to CCC, would you be interested in reading any of these eg. Christmas at CCC, and Conference at CCC.

Questions by PPH Bookclub. Feel free to re-use but don't forget to attribute!

Cold Comfort Farm - Podcast


Here's a link to the First Tuesday Australian book club video of a discussion of Cold Comfort Farm.


One Day - David Nicholls

Firstly we discussed the book choices for the next few months, these have been added to the blog for everyone to see.

Many of the bookclub members didn't enjoy this book as much as they thought they would. Maybe we had high expectations as it had been made into a film. A lot of us were very disappointed in the ending of the book, it all came as a bit of a shock that we weren't very happy with. It's pretty tricky to talk about the end of the book without giving away a massive plot twist but you will know once you've read it why we weren't pleased.

We discussed the two main characters and why we thought they behaved the way they did. We decided that Dex wasn't deliberately nasty, he just didn't know how to think of others before himself as this wasn't something his mother had taught him. She had taught him to be her little prince so he thought he could do no wrong and didn't appreciate it when he was told he was doing things wrong. His way of dealing with feeling bad in anyway was to go completely off the rails until someone picked up the pieces. Emma was someone who seemed to enjoy being a matyr, doing a job she didn't enjoy and picking up the pieces when a broken Dex came to her. Emma even seemed to enjoy keeping herself looking dull and unattractiveand having very few relationships with men much like a nun! One thing we didn't quite understand was how the two remained such strong friends after only having met on the last day of university term. It was put forward that maybe they remained friends because they didn't get a "moment" during their first encounter so they had that as an extra frisson to the normal friendly relationship. Another interesting suggestion was that they were using each other as a back-up plan in case they turned out to be lonely and unmarried in their old age.

The main bulk of out discussion was around whether men and women can be friends in a platonic sense without anything sexual going on in either ones minds. Luckily we have a man in our group so we could get the story from both sides with some interesting discussion going on. We also wondered whether the same thing happens to homosexuals as with heterosexuals in terms of being friends with someone of the sex that you would generally fall for. We thought that people may behave differently if they're trying to be friends with someone rather than trying to become their partner. We came to the conclusion that sometimes men and women can be friends but it does often happen that things progress beyond the platonic.

We found it interesting to see how Dex and Emma changed their wants out of life from their highly idiological ideas of life after university on their last day at university to the last few entries where they were 30 year olds.

Overall we gave this book 5 out of 10.

One Day - Questions


Here are a few questions for the months bookclub:

- The When Harry Met Sally question: What do you think - can a single man and a single woman ever truly be "just friends," or does one of them always want more?

- Do you think Dexter and Emma would have been happy had they admitted their love and devotion to each other much earlier in their lives? Is their love a product of their long, off and on friendship through the years, or could it have been realized even if they'd gotten together earlier? Do you know people who have had a similar relationship?

- Do Emma’s musings about where life has taken her [p. 381] resonate with you? What do Emma and Dexter at forty have in common with the people they were on graduation night? How does Nicholls simultaneously capture the ways people change and the persistence of individual characteristics through the passage of time?

- What demands does the unusual structure of One Day make on the reader? Discuss how the yearlong gaps between chapters; the focus on sometimes-mundane happenings rather than “big” events; and the alternation between Dexter’s and Emma’s journeys within each section increase your curiosity and engagement with the novel.

Questions from About.com and Random House.