Denise from Warwickshire Page Turners in Leamington, has written about their latest read:
Ann Walmsley is a Canadian journalist, who describes her experience with a prison book club in this non-fiction book. I enjoyed it a lot, particularly the insight that it gave into a world that is completely closed to most of us – the world of male prisons.
Ann Walmsley has won several prizes for her journalism and this did feel a lot like a journalist’s book. During our discussion, someone suggested that each chapter would have fitted pretty well as a long article in a Sunday supplement. The book was informative but not in an academic way (there were a tiny number of statistics, right near the end). The characters, in the main, were sketched rather than finely drawn and most of the members of our group had trouble differentiating between them. The book described book clubs in Canadian prisons but I think they wouldn’t be very different here – I know of a charity that raises money to provide books to British prisioners.
The book was easy to read, parts of it were enjoyable while some parts I, at least, found very shocking. But I think I was shocked because the characters seemed like you or me but some of them had committed truly horrible crimes.
This book promoted lively discussion in our group. There were a wide range of opinions on it, but more favourable than unfavourable. We always score our books and a couple of the group thought this deserved 8 out of 10, the majority of the group thought it was a 7 or a 6, while one person gave it a 5.
As a footnote, after our book group meeting, I remembered a short story I once read. In this story, a group of people crash landed on a far away planet and were put in a zoo by the aliens living there. They tried everything they could think of to convince the aliens that they were sentient beings. They failed and gave up. Then, to entertain themselves, they captured and caged some of the brightly coloured alien mouse equivalents running round the people’s own cage. Their treatment by the aliens was transformed – because only sentient beings imprison others.