Monday, 20 April 2015

The Girl With All The Gifts - Questions

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re all enjoying this months book. Don’t forget that the meeting will be on 30th April. Here are some questions to think about while you’re reading:

-    What difference, if any, does the use of the present tense for the narrative voice make to our experience in reading the novel? Why do you think the author chose it?
-    This book provides the reader with a moral dilemma, do you side with Dr Caldwell in her experiments to save the human race, or with Helen Justineau and her difficulty with separating the children from what they really are?
-    How does the book portray the relationship between Melanie and Miss Justineau? Do you find it unsettling or reassuring? Does it change in the course of the novel?
-    How did the explanation for the apocalypse make you feel, did the scientific basis leave you impressed or terrified?
-    Do you view the ending as tragic or hopeful? And what do you think will happen next?
-    Did you enjoy this book, and would you recommend it? If you would recommend it would you let that person go into it blind?

See you all next week!

Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff

Only two members of the book group have actually finished this book and of those that haven't not many felt they wanted to continue with it. Everyone found this book incredibly hard going, it was dry, confusing, and in fact we found that we didn't actually leanr that much about Cleopatra. The language used caused some confusion as there were highly intellectual words used in the same sentence as much more parochial words which we felt clashed a little. We honestly weren't sure what kind of book this was meant to be, was it a highly intellectual history book, or was it trying to be a little more readable. Whichever it was trying for we felt it definitely missed.

We were all very disappointed that we didn't learn very much about Cleopatra, at least nothing that stuck in our minds given the odd language and writing style. We felt that we learnt much more about the male characters in the book, and even about the people who wrote about Cleopatra rather than the woman herself. Some of the facts that we did read we felt were things that the author could not possibly know, and she had no evidence to reallt back up, for example the fact that Cleopatra only slept with two men. Cleopatra did come across as someone very suited to the age in which she lived, she seemed to able to do almost anything to ensure that her name went down in history and that she and her children survived.

Along with the confusion of everyone having the same name and also changing the year when it suited them we felt that having some kind of simplified timeline would have helped the reader get their head around when everything was happening and how things interacted.

Overall we gave this book 1 out of 10.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson

The main problem most book club members seemed to have with this book was the hopping backwards and forwards in time. It was felt that these bits might be slightly superfluous to the main story, but without them the book would have been much shorted, and possibly more interesting. The only thing we learnt from the historical parts of the book was that the protaganist had been around for a very long time and happened to meet a lot of the great historical figures from the past 100 years. It was interesting to have that timeline to see what things had happened during his lifetime but it didn't really add anything more to the story.

Moving on from the historical passages in the book we though that they were pretty far fetched and wondered whether the protaganist was making them up as there is no-one around to be able to check with. We also wondered whether he had some kind of mental health issues related to lying and story telling. We then went on to wonder if he had actually run away at all or if it was all just a dream, or he was just telling himself a story to pass the time in the nursing home.

We wondered whether the reason we didn't enjoy it as much as we anticipated was because it has been translated from Swedish. They might have a very different sense of humour than we do, it certainly seemed to be a lot drier than we're used to. We came to the conclusion that the Scandinavians definitely do have a wierd sense of humour evidenced by this book and also the Moomins!

Overall we gave this book 5 out of 10.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared - Questions

Hello everyone,

As we have a book club meeting on Thursday of this week i should probably be sending out some questions for you to think about. Please let me know if you’re unable to come along to the meeting.

•    The One Hundred Year Old Man is a novel with the topic of ageing at its core. What are society's expectations of how the elderly should act? Talk about the ways—obvious and not-so-obvious—in which Allan defies the usual stereotypes. What are your own experiences, either as an older person yourself...or as someone who worries about an older friend or family member? Does society do a good job in terms of how we treat our older population? Have you read other novels that explore (and shatter) a strongly held societal belief?
•    History and politics sit lightly within the framework of this novel. When it comes to international relations, what worldview would you say the author seem to hold?
•    A definition of "satire" is "a literary composition in which vices, abuses and follies, etc are held up to scorn, derision or ridicule" (Macquarie Dictionary). Do you think this novel is a satire—and what is being satirized?
•    At 100, Allan’s life is filled with important moments. And yet he does not seem to see these encounters as momentous. Is he na├»ve? Innocent? What does Allan’s own attitude toward his past and his present tell you about him and his view of life? Do you hold a similar perspective?

Hope to see you all on Thursday for books and cake!