Here are some unusual books you might have missed!
Marsha, from a Warwick Reading Group, has sent in a review of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. This is a book was first published in 1899, and is widely seen as a landmark of early feminism. Here is Marsha’s excellent review :
We had a great discussion about this book and the issues it raised. We talked about feminism. Race and class, and thought many of us didn’t warm to the character of Edna, the ideas her behaviour brought to the fore caused some interesting debate.
It is a book of it’s time, and an element of this knowledge is needed when reading , but, that said, the author creates an atmosphere of time and place that still draws in the reader. Set in the Gulf of Mexico in the 1890s, the summer’s claustrophobic heat is reflected in the insular lives of the characters.
We have a casual scoring system within the group, and The Awakening scored a mean average of 6—but within this our scores ran from 4 to 8 which gives some indication of the differing opinions about the novel. We all agreed that it was not a difficult read, though not to everyone’s taste.
Ex-libris group from Southam and Harbury, have read Different Class by Joanne Harris. The book is the third in a series of novels set in the fictional town of Malbry, and follows directly on from Gentlemen and Players and precedes Blue Eyed Boy . Having said that, each book stands alone , so it doesn’t matter in which order they are read. They are much “darker “ novels than Chocolat or Peaches for Monsieur le Cure
The group said : Excellent discussion on many varied related topics. The nicknames were confusing, but all the characters were believable and well-defined. The school setting was convincing ( the author spent a number of years teaching at a boys’ school) The book was enjoyable, not predictable, but gripping.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro has been read by the Chatter Book Club at Hartshill. Here is their opinion :
The story is a fable, set in real time and place. It’s full of myth and legend, with fantasy and historical fiction mixed up together. The buried giant in the story is the old hatred between the Britons and the Saxons. It did create a good discussion which promoted one to discover more hidden meanings within the text. It’s not really the love story it purports to be. To get the most out of the book, you need to study it’s hidden meanings.
Lastly, Heart of England U3A reviewed A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale.
We all read it to the end, and a thoughtful discussion was enjoyed. It was certainly different”, with many issues introduced. The beginning we found off-putting, and the setting is upper-middle class in Edwardian times. Rather too many characters and names. Harry’s background was necessary and somewhat sad, although family details were over-done. The details of a gay man’s experiences at the time were interesting, but the life of an immigrant in Canada in pre-war times was perhaps the best part, and a necessary reminder of the experiences of our forebears!
The group would recommend the book with some caution. Perhaps too many important issues were explored in a rather confusing narrative. The main characters in Canada were skilfully presented and examined. Enjoyment?- mixed, Educational?-Yes !!
If you have read any of these rather more “challenging” books, then do let me know… Jan