Here’s what some of our Reading Groups have been reading on the theme :


Two books by Charles Cumming (follow the link to see Leek Wootton WI reading group review of a Foreign Country):



A Foreign Country  was read by Alcester W.I. Group.

All of us generally enjoyed the book, even those who wouldn’t normally pick a spy thriller.. Well written and taut, with an exciting plot . The characters were well-drawn, and were sympathetic and very realistic. A very good read.




1A Divided Spy, reviewed by Marsha of the PECC Group.

Overall, the group enjoyed this book and thought it above average. A spy novel in the style of John Le Carre, it kept the reader’s interest, and was easy to read. The book is the third in a series, and members felt they would like to read more by the same author, although this book could, and did, stand on it’s own. It raised issues regarding national security and the impact this has on personal feelings and individual morals, in an ever changing world. The terrorism strand of the story was well interwoven into the rest of the plot.


1A God in Ruins  by Kate Atkinson is a breathtaking, beautifully written book , says Kinmond Court Group in Leamington

It is the story of Teddy Todd—the narrative flits back and forth during his life from his childhood in 1925, revealing as it goes, the ups and downs of all the characters depicted. The section describing Teddy’s role as a bomber pilot in the 2nd World War, depict extraordinary vivid scenes of death and destruction, about which the author has made extensive research.

This book is about war and the shadows it casts over generations to come. The ending is ambiguous—did Teddy live his life to the end, or did he die in that final hideous raid?  


 1Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg

This is the detailed story of the Peasant’s Revolt, dense with period details and true characters. However, it is fiction, although the events were true. Wat Tyler is pictured vividly, as are other characters. It is a book which takes commitment to read to the end, but is worth the effort. Bookworms Group in Stratford found opinions varied—some people liked all the facts included, others felt there was too much. The book generated a good discussion, and people who knew less about the period, learnt quite a bit.

It took Bragg 15 years to finish it!


1A Commonplace Killing  by Sian Busby

Alcester W I agreed that this was an excellent read. Good story, characterisation of the time, immediate post-war London, was beautifully invoked. The ending was the weakest part and caused some confusion, but was a very good book, and greatly enjoyed on the whole.




1The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

This won the Man Booker Prize 2014.

It is set in a POW camp on the Burma death railway, and inspired by his father, who was there. Leek Wootton W I group found it moving and compelling, not an easy read, but worth sticking at . So do try it—well worthwhile.




1The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

Leamington Literary Society reviewed it :

The book was very skilfully constructed, in terms of it’s complex plot , and most especially in terms of the way it re-creates a period from the past. We were most impressed by the depth of research implied in this vivid recreation of the Great Fire and it’s aftermath. In terms of characterisation, discussion focused on Cat and the credibility of her violent behaviour and her ultimate success in achieving her aims. Some members of the group found the twists and turns of the plot, a little too complicated to follow with ease. Nevertheless,  a highly readable and a plausible re-creation of a historical period.