So, in between the tennis, cricket and football, is there time for reading on a lazy summer day?

Yes we think so!  I know some of you have a break in the summer, but here’s some titles to whet your appetite , all with good or excellent  reviews from our groups.

Belgravia  by Julian Fellowes.

Thoroughly enjoyed by Scholars Court group in Stratford.  They have written a fabulous review—here is a slightly shortened version:

“It is a long novel with lots going on: a dual romance, a family mystery, a tale of secrets and lies, and exploration of ambition, greed and duplicity, a portrait of social class and social change in Victorian England.

We thought the book well-plotted, found the characters interesting, and the style of writing engaging. Building the dramatic ending, the style becomes almost cinematic, creating tension with short scenes following different characters simultaneously within the same time frame.

The settings, behaviour and context, show how well the book has been researched, as one would expect from Julian Fellows. His evocation of London in 1841 is skilful, and the attention to period detail ,meticulous. The book is eminently readable and engaging, and surprisingly educational”

 Small Great Things  by Jodi Picoult

Farnborough group found this a real page-turner, with thought-provoking discussions.

The Washington Post says:

“Small Great Things is the most important novel Jodi Picoult has ever written. Frank, uncomfortably introspective and right on the day’s headlines, it will challenge her readers.”

The Girl in Berlin  by Elizabeth Wilson    

Alcester library group consider this a good book for reading groups. It is well written  and researched, with a good sense of time and place.

Here is what The Independent says:

“The picture of an earlier era of austerity Britain has a confident sweep and truthfulness that establishes The Girl in Berlin as something rather special in the espionage genre. If the characters are not as rigorously delineated as in Le Carré, that is perhaps an unfair caveat. But as a fascinatingly detailed examination of vulnerable, all-too-human characters and ruthless political creeds, Wilson’s novel demands (and rewards) keen attention.”

Nutshell  by Ian McEwan

Two book groups considered this unusual book “ very good” .The protagonist is a foetus, listening in to everything happening to it’s mother-intrigue ,lies, romance and murder.  One of the groups tried to compose it’s sequel – what happened to this newborn? Was he taking A levels at 6 months old?!

The Guardian :

“There have been plenty of novels inspired by Hamlet –Iris Murdoch’sThe Black Prince,John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius, even David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. And there have been one or two novels told in the voice of foetuses in the womb – Carlos Fuentes’s Christopher Unborn, for example. But Ian McEwan’s virtuoso entertainment is almost certainly the first to combine the two.”

Crisis by Frank Gardner

Shipston WI group think other reading groups would enjoy this one.

They had an excellent and wide-ranging discussion around it, finding that “ life in Columbia seemed frighteningly stark, and made us appreciate our own environment more “

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar  by Suzanne Joinson

Newbold reading group were pleasantly surprised with this book, as many thought it might be a travel guide, by it’s title. It generated a good discussion on several topics, from cultural sensitivities, to pre-conceptions about people.

They would definitely recommend it “ A compelling read with lots of elements to make you think and question behaviour”

My Own Story  by Emmeline Pankhurst

Three groups have recently reviewed this, and are all very positive about it. In this anniversary year, what better time to read it?

The book is considered rather challenging to read, and can easily get bogged down with lengthy reports of speeches, “ but the author is good at using stories of individuals to illustrate general issues, and the tone is occasionally lightened by touches of dry humour”

It is enlightening, illustrating the struggle still going on, and spotlighting Asquith and Churchill who did their best to prevent women’s suffrage.

Kinmond Court group say “every school should have this book in their curriculum”

A Rising Man  by Abir Mukherjee

A debut book, winner of the Harvill Secker/ Daily Telegraph crime writing competition.

Very well reviewed by a couple of groups, the historical setting ( The British in India ) perfectly depicted, the writing poetic and fluid, and a great detective story , which takes the reader along.

A Gentleman in Moscow  by Amor Towles

Shipston library reading group gave this book 10 out of 10.

They say it is a “must read “ book. It is beautifully written with well-drawn characters.

Kirkus review:

“Sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal for writing a poem deemed to encourage revolt, Count Alexander Rostov nonetheless lives the fullest of lives, discovering the depths of his humanity.

A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfils the promise of Towles’ stylish debut, Rules of Civility” (2011).

 The House of Hidden Mothers  by Meera Syal

Canfield group in Alcester found much material for discussion in this well-written and profoundly interesting book.

Topics covering infertility and surrogacy , coupled with a different culture, all make the book challenging at times, “especially as most of us are of an age where adoption was the only real solution”

Happy reading all, and have a lovely summer!