Book clubs are great places of discussion and debate. Reading is considered a solitary pass-time, so in the forum of a book club it is a joy to voice the inner critic, reviewer and fan.
There are quite a few book clubs dotted across this county and here is what they are currently reading:
Carrick Cineplex: What Happened? -Hilary Clinton
Leitrim Village: The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
1. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
2. Beneath a Scarlet Sky – Mark Sullivan
If you are interested in joining a book club or indeed setting one up please call in – happy to discuss and recommend.
The Reading Room Bookshop Book Club
Isabel Archer’s main aim in life is to protect her independence. She is not interested in settling down and compromising her freedom for the sake of marriage. However, on a trip around Europe with her aunt, she finds herself captivated by the charming Gilbert Osmond, who is very interested in the idea of adding Isabel to his collection of beautiful artworks…
This novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend.
Edith Wharton set out `to draw life as it really was’ in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Through the eyes of a visitor from the city, trapped for a winter in snowbound Starkfield, readers glimpse the hidden histories of this austere and beautiful land.
Piecing together the story of monosyllabic Ethan Frome, his grim wife, Zeena, and Mattie Silver, her charming cousin, Wharton explores psychological dead-lock:frustration, longing, resentment, passion. First published in 1911, the novella stunned its public with its consummate handling of the unfolding drama, and has remained for many readers the most compelling and subtle of all Wharton’s fiction.
The Romans have long departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. The Buried Giant begins as a couple Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land for mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. The expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly- but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
19 year-old Chani lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of North West London. She has never had physical contact with a man, but is bound to marry a stranger. The rabbi’s wife teaches her what it means to be a Jewish wife, but Rivka has her own questions to answer.
Soon buried secrets, fear and sexual desire bubble to the surface in a story of liberation and choice; not to mention what happens on the wedding night
Businessman George F. Babbitt loves the latest appliances, making money and the Republican party. In fact, he loves being a solid citizen even more than he loves his wife. But Babbit comes to resent the middle-class trappings he has worked so hard to acquire. Realising that his life is devoid of meaning, he grows determined to transcend his trivial existence and search for a greater purpose.
Review of Babbitt
A slow detailed read but as relevant now as a satire, as it was when it was first published in 1922.
One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery. ‘I need to have an abortion’, she announces. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life. Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul.
Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya’s beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya’s Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey’s turbulent past begin to emerge.
Review of The Bastard of Istanbul
This is a writer that has a lot to say and it was thought that her need to try and expressed ALL of that here, in this book and through these characters, was too much. Her writing is engaging however spending time on characters and scences that are not returned to or developed was frustrating.
But there is a lot to like. Her writing is , as mentioned, engaging and she isn’t afraid to satirise the accepted opinions while applying a light touch of humour. More focus would have been preferred on the historical story to lead to the present.
Not loved. Not hated. And not put off to read more.
Every Monday evening, Felix Funicello sets up a new film at an old vaudelville theatre for his weekly movie club. But one night, as this sixty-year-old scholar prepares the projectionist booth, he is confronted by an unanticipated guest: the ghost of Lois Weber.
Once a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era, Lois invites felix to sit back and watch a new feature on the big screen – scenes from Felix’s life.
Although unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois. And as these magical movies play before him, he begins to reflect on the trio of unforgettable women who have profoundly affected his life: his troublesome yet loving sister; his generation Y daughter; and Verna, a fiery would-be beauty queen from the 1950s.
Review of I’ll Take you There
The majority considered this a disappointment. Structurally all over the place with an aimless narrative. Best comment sums it up – ‘the more I read the more I had to suppress my irritation’. However not to recognise one members like would be dishonest – she enjoyed it thoroughly and described nuanced levels that most, well all of us had missed. So not all bad for Mr. Lamb
At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.
Review of The Outrun
This was universally liked. Clever and tight writing under-score this memoir of alcoholism and island living. She has no pity for the drunk while capturing the chaos of her life and beautifully evokes the nature, landscape and ruggedness of living on the Orkney Islands. In an era of ‘bare all’ this felt honest but not at the expense of her own or her families’ privacy and her clear eyed unsentimental telling makes this an absolute must.
Born in Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father’s racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father’s work will lead to a memoir that will solve their financial woes.
But when his father is killed in a drive-by shooting, he discovers there never was a memoir. All that’s left is a bill for a drive-through funeral. What’s more, Dickens has literally been wiped off the map to save California from further embarrassment.
Fuelled by despair, the narrator sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
The Dark Flood Rising by Margaret Drabble.
She has often suspected that her last words to herself in this world will be ‘You bloody old fool’, or, perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of night, ‘you fucking idiot’. As the speeding car hit the tree, or the unserviced boiler exploded, or the smoke and flames filled the hallway, or the grip on the high guttering gave way, those would be her last words. She isn’t to know for sure that they would be so, but she suspects it…
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerey
Maureen didn’t mean to kill a man, but what can a poor dear do when she is surprised by an intruder and has only a holy stone to hand? Lucky that she’s just reconnected with her estranged son Jimmy because, as the most feared gangster in Cork, he certainly has the tools to sort out the mess.
So Jimmy enlists his boyhood buddy Tony who, with six kids and love of the bottle, could certainly do with the money, even if his teenage son, Ryan, is far too keen to grow up so he can become a gangster himself. And all is going to plan until Georgie, the girlfriend of the hapless intruder, starts to woner where he went…